Last year, Google made it easier to manage location extensions by linking My Business listing information with AdWords accounts. Now, with this update, there’s a new AdWords option to include ratings from My Business listings as part of an ad. The placement will appear next to the location data included in the ad, along with a link to the reviews listing. It is important brands understand the value ratings can play in a customer’s decision process and develop strategic search campaigns to increase exposure and ROI.

This update to location extensions is a powerful way to increase click-through rates and search performance. Ratings are meant to make it easier for users to search for local businesses that will rotate tires efficiently or brew the best coffee in Phoenix. But this is nothing new to PPC and SEO experts. With the product seller ratings AdWords extension, four- and five-star reviews from reputable, third-party directory sites triggered an extension to showcase the aggregate star rating directly under the URL and above the ad copy. Under seller rating rules, businesses must have at least 30 reviews in the past year in order to feature this option, so strategies for optimizing seller ratings are used to build credibility and links. The same rules apply to location extensions. Google’s My Business pulls ratings information from Facebook, Yelp, CitySearch and the like.

Reviews can make a huge difference in competitive local markets, and the targeting is a part of what makes your paid search placement more cost-effective. Stars enhance the visuals of the ad and high ratings signal to potential customers to make a purchase. Half a star can make the difference between browsing and buying.

It’s no secret that Google values location data, and that includes reviews. Increasingly, locals and tourists alike run at least one longtail search before they make a visit or even a purchase. The assumption is that if a user is somewhere unfamiliar or in just a densely populated city, they ask Google (or Apple’s Siri) for help. Both positive and negative reviews provide context for users to identify where to go, what to avoid or even what to order when they get there. Almost a year ago, with Google’s Pigeon update made it easier for users to find useful and relevant local pages in their search results. The algorithm tweak enhanced distance and location ranking parameters. With Pigeon, aggregate and directory sites have become essential to local SEO. Many business sought placement in high-ranking directories like TripAdvisor.