Tim Coleman from ConvertOffline.com has written an interesting speculative piece: Is Google Filtering Reviews or Reviewers? in response to my piece last week noting the loss of CitySearch reviews from Google Maps. Tim did some interesting research on the volume of each reviewer’s reviews and theorized that Google might be attempting to filter out “spammy” reviews on this basis. There was also some interesting discussion from David Mihm, Matt McGee & Miriam Ellis and others about this and other theories (Matt asked whether it might be age based) to explain the decline in reviews.
My comments summarized the questions outstanding on the dissapearance of reviews:
Certainly it makes sense if Google could actually develop a way of indentifying more trust worthy reviews and your idea might actually workâ€¦
I will play the devilâ€™s advocate. If Google were doing that (ie keeping reviews from more active reviewers) then we could assume that some CitySearch reviews would still be in their index. I havenâ€™t poked around to look but that should be something we can ferret out.
I also like Mattâ€™s idea of time as a criteria. Certainly reviews become stale and worth less over time as businesses change. The bugaboo with that theory is that Google removed some their own reviews as well which are all very recent. But it would be interesting to look and see if the review dates are more recent than they were. To quote from an old Buffalo Springfield song: â€œSomething is happening here, what it is ainâ€™t exactly clearâ€â€¦
I would encourage others with ideas to join the discussion at ConvertOffline and help figure this out.