Google Maps Counts CityVoter Reviews Backwards

Update 4/26: It appears that all of the reviews have been removed from Google. It is a little hard for me to understand how these reviews can be removed so quickly from Maps but can not be updated with equal speed.

Reviews from are heavily referenced in Google Maps with over 1,113,968 instances. However, it appears (pointed out by Avante Gardens – Florals Unique Anaheim, CA) that a positive review in CityVoter knocks down your star rating in Google Maps.

Here is a screen shot of the first sites referenced when searching for in Maps. Note the glowing reviews but the low star ratings:

I clicked through to one of the entries. Note its affect on in San Jose. He obviously worked pretty hard at fabricating reviews (ok so maybe this isn’t the best example) to get a single star. Take a look at his Maps record:


Their Authoritative OneBox (ouch):
Hi-Techbikes+San+Diego OneBox

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Google Maps Counts CityVoter Reviews Backwards by

15 thoughts on “Google Maps Counts CityVoter Reviews Backwards”

  1. I appreciate you posting about this. I am the founder of CityVoter, and want to make sure you and others know that we continue to put the pressure on Google to update their feed. It usually takes 2-3 weeks for this to occur. In the meantime, we’ve made the difficult decision to remove all these references in Google maps. That should happen shortly and remain that way until Google correctly pulls star ratings from our system in a few weeks.

    1. @Josh
      Thanks so much for stopping by and explaining this problem. It is clearly a Google error but one that so negatively impacts businesses and can be disastrous to their income.I pointed this out because I am hoping that Google resolves this quickly.

      Removing the listings must be painful. There are quite a few.

  2. Mike –

    It looks like the Jan. 1, 2005 date on City Voter reviews is part of the bug. A spot check on a few of my friends’ listings shows the same date pattern.

    The local Fox TV affiliate in Los Angeles has used City Voter as a platform for ‘Best of Local’ competitions. I’ve received several review/vote requests from local businesses during the voting periods so it strikes me that much of the City Voter participation in our local area has been driven by the local businesses themselves.

    I believe other Fox TV affiliates have also used the platform in a similar way.

    A post in the Google Maps Help Group may explain how the review snafu happened:

    “ used to use a five star system for rating businesses. They have recently changed to more of a Twitter format, granting businesses a cumulative “tips” rating based on how many people post comments to your entry.

    This has caused Google to revert all our five star listings leeched from Cityvoter to one star listings!

    Reviews look like:

    Great store! (one star)

    Five stars is not enough! (one star)”

    Some of the businesses have reported now being fixed, although there are still plenty of examples of this bug in action.

  3. @Cathy
    Thanks for the update and insight (as always)! In a different life you could have been Sherlock Holmes but better. You get the magic decoder ring.

  4. @Josh
    With Mother’s Day in two weeks, this is horrible timing for the florists with a lot of CityVoter reviews. Most are in large metro areas.

    I’m already seeing some of them drop in Ten Packs and review removals may drop them out entirely. 🙁

    A quick correction would be so much better.

    @ Mike
    Thanks! And thanks for getting the word out. 🙂

  5. Gosh, this is pretty much the wonkiest wonkiness I’ve ever seen in Google’s reviews…and that’s saying an awful lot. Josh’s tough decision to pull the reviews says a lot about Google’s responsibility and power to influence whole business models as well as countless business owners. I can’t see this as anything but crummy for everyone involved. What a shame. Good luck, Josh. And good catch, Cathy & Mike. I agree…Cathy deserves a decoder ring, or at least a big bouquet 🙂

  6. @Miriam
    It is wonky and it is pretty far out there on the wonky scale. I sent Cathy a special deocder key ring which she richly deserved.

  7. everyone is making this sound as if it is google’s mistake. This is cityvoter’s mistake. They didn’t correct their data they give to google when they made an update

    1. OK Mike. so lets assume it was CityVoters mistake to start with. How long does it take to push new data out to correct it? How long should it take?

      Even if this was cityvoters error it should be fixed right away as too many merchant’s have their incomes at stake.

      At the end of the day, Google controls the switches and they need to pull this one faster. The merchant’s shouldn’t pay a price for cityvoters mistake or even the slightest delay on Google’s part in pushing this data out.


  8. @ MIke

    Am I reading too much into this or does the time frame suggest that Google is not really making any effort to speed this along? Or are there other factors that make this difficult for them to toggle that switch?

  9. @ Wayne
    At the end of the day, Maps is a black box and Google has made very little public effort to clarify how it works and how changes are pushed through. Typically we can only surmise or take info from tidbits of information that has to be dragged out of them. Why that is, is beyond me.

    Here is what the owner of CityVoter said in his blog post on the matter: Apparently, the last time that Google pulled information from our site, it did so incorrectly. Google is a big company, and despite their error, it is a lot to ask a big company like Google to make changes quickly. We’re being told it will be another 2-3 weeks before they can fix the problem.

    Poster #10 who seems to imply knowledge of the situation, did not respond to my question about how long it should take. Thus we are left with Josh Walker’s assessment and implication.

    Given what we know then I would agree that Google is not really making any effort to speed this along but since it is a black box and we have not heard all sides, I am holding out final judgement.


  10. Thanks Mike. Yes, they are a big company but it strikes me that “3 weeks to fix the problem” is double speak for “the problem will fix itself as part of normal operations”.

    That has always been one of the biggest problems in dealing with G. The example of the impact on the florists is a scary one and highlights the need to make sure your efforts at promotion are as balanced and widespread as possible.

    Once again, great post and thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

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