Google+ Local Reviews Now Showing Descriptive and Not Numerical Scores

Update: Google not only changed the output of the review content but they changed the interface at the time of review creation to have users select from the descriptive phrases as well. See photo below.

Last week at Getlisted Local U Advanced in NYC, Googler Joel Headley noted that “descriptive terms (poor, good, very good excellent) are going to be integrated into Zagat review interface more going forward”.

Reader Kerry Fager just pointed out to me  that they are now doing just that on the overall annotation on each review on the G+ Local page.

Will the descriptive terms make it to the front page? Certainly the descriptors are more meaningful and if we take Joel’s comment at face value, then we might see this elsewhere.

Why the change? One assumes that “it improves the search experience”. It makes the otherwise obtuse Zagat numbering system into something understandable by mere mortals. :)?

Note: As noted in the comments, there appears to be a concurrent problem with displaying owner comments on the reviews. Most, perhaps all owner comments, are missing in action. Search teams are being dispatched.

Update (10/12/2012 9:00AM): Reports of missing owner responses came in via Twitter within minutes of the release of the product on 10/10. These reports were funneled to Google who fixed this bug by mid afternoon yesterday (10/11/12).

When more granular detail is available (ie Quality, appeal & service or Food, service, decor) Google is now breaking those out individually as well:

The new review creation options:

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google+ Local Reviews Now Showing Descriptive and Not Numerical Scores by

35 thoughts on “Google+ Local Reviews Now Showing Descriptive and Not Numerical Scores”

  1. Hi Mike – This change has occurred to my client’s Google+ Local Reviews. However, now that the descriptive scores are showing, my client’s “Business Owner” comments have disappeared. I’m curious as to whether this is happening to others? I also am wondering if Google will roll over the “Business Owner Comments” or if will it be necessary to manually go back to each review and enter the comment again.

    Any help and insight would be appreciated.

    1. @Jenna

      Usually owner comments disappear because Google is confused as to the owner of a particular listing ie it is claimed into two dashboards or the G+ Page is verified under a different email than the Dashboard claimant. Is that the case with you?

      It could be that the interface update has a bug and all owner comments have disappeared. I do not have a large enough sample to know. Have others lost their owner comments?

  2. Thanks Mike – We have only claimed our client’s listings under the Google Places dashboard, so Google should not be confused as to who the particular owner is.

  3. @Jenna & Kim

    I just checked on Twitter and many are reporting that owner comments are MIA. I also attempted to add an owner and it did not show. I have alerted Google and am awaiting a response.

  4. Thanks for the mention, Mike. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Local U in NYC — is there anything pointing to the overall numerical scores being removed completely?

  5. Two observations:

    1. At the bottom of the page, where it says “Reviews from around the web,” there are no longer numbers in parentheses that show how many reviews come from third-party sites. For instance, instead of “ (3),” it’s just “” The numbers of third-party reviews don’t show up on the front-page “preview” area now, either – which is a little odd, given that the numerical ratings still show up on the front page.

    2. I find it interesting that there are only 5 “descriptors” to indicate the rating of a review: Excellent, Very good, Good, Poor to fair, and Poor. As in 5 stars. I don’t think it’s a coincidence (why else would there NOT be a descriptor for “Fair”?). I wouldn’t be surprised if Google eventually brings back the star ratings in one form or another.

  6. @Phil
    Thanks for the info on the other additional changes.

    While it is the equal of the 5 star, it does cover as many as 3 different sub areas. I think that granularity is actually valuable going forward.

    We only know that Google has been testing the return to a 5 star system. No clue if the numerical scores will be replaced once again with stars or with this new verbiage.

  7. We’re so excited that Google is now spelling this out for us. You see we didn’t know before what the original 5 star rating system meant. Some super smart people suggested that:

    5 stars = excellent
    4 stars = Good
    3 stars = average
    2 stars = fair
    1 star = poor

    But we really weren’t certain.

    I’m personally glad that the 1-30 scale was abandoned after a few short months, and I’ll be glad in January when they abandon this current new strategy as well and go back to the industry-standard 5-star rating system that was working so well before.

    Mike, thanks for the update as always. Sorry for the sarcasm, but I really can’t help myself.

  8. I have always feared that something would happen when the listing is verified in two different dashboards. The first thing is that it has apparently confused Google as to who is the “owner” of the listing. If this is the only problem that arises from multiple dashboards, I would be happy. Most of my clients(auto dealers) have multiple dashboards or they have no clue who has the logins so new verification had to be done. I have had some problems with posting of pictures or changing information when they move or a change in the phone numbers from a toll free to a local number. @mike Have you heard/seen problems of multiple dashboards causing or delaying changes? A client of mine moved down the street about 2 months ago and I changed information the day they moved, In the dashboard, everything is updated. When I click to see it on Google it takes me to the page with the old information. Have done multiple null edits too? Weird…

  9. @Jorge

    1)Data from the dashboard is on deep delay these days due to the transition to Plus. Photos can take a month or more
    2)Claiming a listing in multiple accounts has and will continue to cause difficulties
    3)You can’t “move” a business by changing the data in the dashboard. It doesn’t work most of the time. You need to “close” it in Maps and then reopen a new location

  10. @mike Sometimes these dealerships will have 100+ reviews and they don’t understand why they have to start over. “Why can’t you just change the address” then months down the line I get “Why is the address the same?” It’s my next move with this client anyway. Thanks for the feedback.

  11. @Jorge
    In the ideal world they could but unfortunately it is not ideal. With Google’s current set up the reviews are attached to the location not the business. There is no reliable way in Google’s architecture to do it any other way.

    Tell them not to move. 🙂

  12. I got 2 calls this week of people who mentioned all their comments were gone. I am not seeing missing comments from my clients GP listings nor my own.

    I hope they bring back the 5-star. I am not holding my breath. They more money on Ads now that it’s there and not in organic. If you owned Google which is business that is business to make money, would you bring more attention to the free part of your site or the “paid” section….? Exactly.

    We can hope and pray, but I wouldn’t stand around waiting for it.

    Obviously. this Zagat review system sucks. They should just suck up and bury it, no one likes it. I don’t think I’ve read 1 positive post about the benefits of the Zagat rating system…. has anyone seen a post on this…?

  13. Having read this article I glanced at some places where I had placed reviews. In one of them the owner had responded and the owner response was there. In fact I saw 3 owner responses for that particular smb.

    Of interest. I clicked on the reviewers in all cases. The click on the person’s name took me to the google+ persona. I did this while not signed in.

    On two of the reviews where I saw a response, the person had written a number of local reviews. On one of the owner responses the person was still anonymous within google+.

    Well, could it be that if people sign into google+ the owner responses are showing up??? Possibly.

    Of 2 of the people wherein the owner responses had shown….one was me…and the other was self identified as a google employee.

    Maybe there is a different internal algo element to maintaining owner responses on reviews.


    If the reviewer is connected to google and/or has a big mouth and whines (kvetches) about google the algo kicks in and the owner response shows up.

    Just an idea 😀

    1. @Dave
      I updated my post above. The reports of missing owner responses came to me via Twitter shortly after the release of the product. I forwarded those reports and my tests that verified that the feature was not working to Google. A fix was in place by midday yesterday and it was visible to most by late afternoon.

      Owner responses should be working. If they are not let Google know.

  14. Hi Mike, seems like since this change reviews being left for our clients are showing immediately however, reviews that were left a month to three months ago are still stuck in some mysterious Google limbo. I posted a review two months ago which still has not published and the one I did today showed immediately. Any idea what is going on with those older reviews?

    1. @Emery
      They are caught in the Google spam review filter. It is possible that the new filter is “nicer” or that the previous behavior that triggered the filter is no longer there. Have you tried re-editing the old reviews?

  15. @ Mike
    Yes we have tried editing and resubmiting, even tried deleting and writing a new one. Our clients are dental practices as such it is difficult to find paitents who we know have left a review and who are willing to go through these extra steps so our sample size is limited to only a handful right now.

  16. @Emery
    Dental practices have been under particular scrutiny and likely candidates for review take downs and reviews not showing since Google tightened up the review spam filter in early August.

    It is possible that Google has loosened the rules since the review change, regardless those old reviews are toast.

  17. Hi Mike,

    We have a plus page for our business and recently over HALF of the reviews (which were real – I know the people that posted them when we asked) were removed. Based on your comments above would you say that they appeared as spammy and Google removed them? That is VERY disappointing, seeing as how they were REAL. Is there anything we can do about this? Can I ask the clients to resubmit them, or will Google ‘slap’ them again because it has already associated those e-mail addresses as (incorrect) *spam*? Any advice is appreciated.

  18. I prefer the 5-star rating system as well. Not to copy Yelp, but I wouldn’t mind some sort of color-coding… makes it easier when searching for a good rating in a hurry… not a big deal though.

    I dislike the new phrases, but it’s better than the individual 0-3 point score. It was unfair when a “1” score showed up as “1/3″… a 1 out of 3 appeared to be the lowest possible score, when, in fact, it was not.

  19. That’s a confirmation to what we heard during workshop at SMX NY 2012 where JOEL HEADLEY from Google pointed to the 4 ratings : poor – good – very good – excellent. Hope this will work at least for a year as we’ll not ask reviewers to change their copy every month !

  20. Yet another example of Google complicating things in an attempt to be more “user friendly” or “helpful” (note the quotations and thick layer of sarcasm here).

  21. Thanks for the updates on this one, Mike.

    Really good to see Google taking action so quickly and rectifying bugs in the system.

    Perhaps we could push them to make reviews available from mobile devices? Now that would make for a better user experience.

  22. One million $ question. I created a personal account and created a Google + business page. When I go to my dash board it asks me to claim another page. I heard that places old one is dying. How will I use the dash board for indexing stats, offers, etc?


  23. I have been noticing this happen with quite a few of our clients, however I have also noticed a few reviews disappearing which is really odd. These have happened on really honest listings i.e. the reviews are genuine from real customers. Not quite sure if its related but definitely something I have picked up on. Anyways neat update:)

  24. @Jonathan – you need your reviews to look natural these days – a burst of reviews on a short time period doesn’t, and google has been taking action to remove any that it deems suspicious.

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