Google Reviews – New Quirks

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 8.41.35 PMLast week, with the rollout of the Places Review Monitoring system, we started to see some quirks in review count difference between the monitoring dashboard and the + Page.

Subsequently business owners, like Barbara Oliver, reported review count declines on their + Page and in the main search results. Barbara’s reviews went from 65 to 58 and then back up to 62 and today returned to 64. It has happened so frequently it has stopped being newsworthy.

However a new anomaly has been reported both in the forums and on G+ where the rating averages have dropped despite having nearly all 5 stars reviews and are different between the monitoring system and the + Page. Barbara’s rating dropped from 4.9 to 4.6.

Google does sometimes (arbitrarily?) knick your review rating so that the math doesn’t always add up but these reports do seem different.

We calculate an overall rating based on user ratings and a variety of other signals to ensure that the overall score best reflects the quality of the establishment. 

It’s often difficult to know whether these changes are just temporary bugs or reflect some new normal. Given the recent rollout of the monitoring system, my money is on the former but the spread is small.


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12 thoughts on “Google Reviews – New Quirks”

  1. I’ve always imagined that the average rating is not calculated the same way =AVG() would be in Excel. You can easily go to any listing out there, add up the ratings and then divide by the number of reviews and the number is rarely what you would expect.

    This definitely seems like Google is working through some things to figure out a balance.

  2. Mike – You do a great job of identifying the problem. Our G+ rating has fallen despite having all 5 star reviews, and our 30/30 score was always a 30 before that. So it is very difficult to follow the logic (or lack of it). What puzzles us is that now other businesses in our category can score higher, despite having the minimum # of reviews. Seems quite unjust.

    1. @tom

      Never take Google personally. If you do you will drive yourself crazy. They process big data and with that comes big errors and big inaccuracies.

      In this case, given the major changes going on, we need to sit tight, wait for the dust to settle and see if this sorts itself out.

  3. @Mark

    True, but the math used to work out. Also, it’s Google’s we’re talking about here…perhaps a little better at number-crunching than the rest of us 🙂

  4. On some issues:

    First to quote Mike: “Never take Google personally. If you do you will drive yourself crazy. They process big data and with that comes big errors and big inaccuracies.

    How true in the general sense. Except of course if one of those glitches hits your own business or client, and it persists. Then it messes with your visibility, connectivity to customers, ability to earn money. Then it is personal. (Of course google doesn’t look at it that way…but it is to you!!!).

    On the changes in reviews, the fluctuations on numbers, and the changes in calculated review score.

    In our experience it is the overall perspective that we put out to the market place, as measured and evaluated in many places and ways, google being a rather large and visual way in which we can be evaluated.

    From our experience if we have a relatively large number of reviews and they tend to reinforce that customers like our services….it works. Customers read the reviews, get comfortable with the service(s) and choose us. We have heard that repeatedly over many years. Frankly years that preceded the web and web reviews. These days we often hear it associated with web reviews.

    Periodically web review services have “lost” our reviews. Google of course being one of them. If we start with a relatively large number and a couple are “lost” “not showing” we don’t see a material difference in results.

    If they are all lost. Its a disaster!!!!! And when that occurs Google: for G-d’s sake get them back up ASAP. When google gets glitches and doesn’t fix them pronto it has immeasurable affects on businesses.

    Finally, on a parenthetical note, it appears yelp has changed its description and access to “filtered reviews”.

    At the bottom of the reviews on yelp instead of calling them “filtered reviews”….they are now called “…xxx (a number) of reviews not reccomended.

    Its yelps old “filtered reviews.” There is a link there. One can click on it and instead of requiring the visitor to fill in a captcha it takes one right to those reviews.

    From just appearances sake it would seem to me that filtered reviews in yelp (a bugaboo that endless smb’s have hated) are now somewhat more accessible than in the past.

    I suppose the yelp filters are still there; and quite active as it applies to new reviewers, especially. I just suppose they are somewhat more accessible to visitors.

  5. What can I say Google is Google. The reason, why it’s so popular maybe is the wind of change, which sometimes unfortunatelly blows you away without any clear reason…

  6. I’m having issues also with the reviews.

    I used to have 22 reviews (must of them from more than a year a go) then a week ago I saw only 4, and today I saw 11… so I think they will come back some day.

    The weird thing is all my reviews are good but I’m showing with 4.5 starts and I used to have 5, I don’t know what’s going on with google review system.

  7. Mike: Have you ever gotten feedback from smb owners as to which review sites customers read?

    Are they reading google reviews, reviews on the site, yelp reviews, reviews on other 3rd party sites?

    We are surveying customers for this info. The process is just beginning. We hear a good bit that customers decide to use our services because of positive reviews…but to date we’ve never checked on WHICH review sites are viewed most often.

    Do you have any data on this??

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