We love Google and rightly so. It gave us so many freedoms and made our lives easier in a huge number of ways. We find ourselves relying heavily on Google search engine and maps simply because they work.
Many find that the easiest way to search for the nearest fast food restaurant for example would be to open Google maps, type in the desired search item and then just scroll through results. It´s easy and it works most of the time. This over-reliance on Google maps has brought about additional habits. I am noticing that more and more people are switching from TripAdvisor to Google to get a suggestion on a place to eat or drink or stay overnight, etc. And it is as anything a two-sided coin if you look at it. With Google you get everything in one place and it saves time not having to check reviews on other platforms. I would be wary of doing this every time though. Google is very honest about it: it tells you loud and clear that their reviews are not verified and it certainly means something. Google does make an effort and apply a number of policies to moderate the content, however let’s not forget that Google maps is a free platform that does not directly profit from customer´s ratings, which means that there is a limit as to how far they are prepared to go to ensure the authencity of those reviews. I cannot tell you how many times as a booking manager I have received offers to get a hundred or so of 5-start reviews for a moderate-size fee. I always said ´No´ however I can assure you there are businesses out there that do not shy away from such practices and would use the mentioned service to ramp up their ratings. I am hearing that Google is planning to clamp down on such practices, however how distant that future is, nobody knows.
I say keep your wits at it. Do not let the star rating alone sway you towards one or the other business. Check how old the reviews are as well as the time gap between them. If you see a great number of 5-star reviews received by a business within a short space of time, question the integrity of it. If you see a younger business having more reviews than an older business it could be a sign that the owners of the given business were on top of customer follow-up but it could also mean that some of those reviews are not genuine. Have a look at Trip Advisor and Facebook for reassurance, if there is consistency then you are in the right place.