If one stops and counts how many times the word review or the star ratings show on the front page of Google one can only conclude that Google not only thinks they are important but that they are of tantamount importance in local searches.
On the Local Carousel search, the word review was used 15 times and the rich snippet rating stars showed 7 times. Additionally 8 of the links take readers to more reviews. Given that this is some of the most valuable internet real estate in the world, one has to assume that Google tests these results aggressively and has given a fair bit of thought to this. If not a “tell“, certainly a very clear expression of Google’s thinking.
The count is less on a branded search or a 7-pack but still amazingly high.Google: Reviews, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. by Mike Blumenthal