Google Review Snippets – More Impactful by Half

With the rollout of review sentiment snippets to the Knowledge Panel in Local search, Google has again elevated reviews another notch in their visibility and impact. These “review synopses” are not just more visible but in being just one sentence and clearly highlighted they are more capable of having greater affect on the reader.


In the previous incarnation of sentiment snippets (still extant on the about page) Google amassed a jumble of words that really had little affect and was easily ignored. The graph is clear but the sentiments provide little of value and no context :

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 8.27.40 AM

The new review synopsis on the other hand stands out and guarantees, by both the brevity and boldness, a higher likelihood of being read and a higher likelihood of impacting the searcher attitude:

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 4.35.19 PM

We know that a negative review or two in a list of positive reviews is often a benefit and increases the likelihood of a purchase. We also know that a negative review corpus is more likely to hurt a business than a positive review corpus is to help.

What we don’t know is if this new, brief treatment in a complete sentence with words bolded and people’s photograph will change those dynamics. I think that it is very likely that they will.

By assembling 3 summaries that are highly visible, highlighted and impactful, Google has minimized the need for many searchers to dig deeper. If searchers learn to trust this algo based “reviews for dummies” summary, Google could very well change searcher behaviors to rely on fewer reviews in making a decision about a place.

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11 thoughts on “Google Review Snippets – More Impactful by Half”

  1. Ho do you think the algo goes about choosing ‘which’ snippets to display? In the “horrible”, “terrible” Holiday Inn example, it didn’t pick from the first review, nor did it add anything from the third review; “awful”.

    Any ideas?

  2. Andy
    Great question. I haven’t a clue. In most examples I have looked at there has been a number next to the snippet indicating the bolded word had shown up several times. But this bolds “pubic hair”, a phrase unlikely to show more than once. That’s for sure.

  3. This is definitely a huge deal and already personally using it to make food choices whilst traveling myself, it was very weird before so now it makes way more sense to have the callouts, it will be interesting to see what comments are highlighted and if specific profiles of more active G+ peeps will be featured or if it’s based on most recent… Personally love the direction and hope to see more like the tips on Yelp which is super great as well.

    1. @Layla
      I am curious how Google decides to put negative or positive snippets out there as well. I am seeing that when I go under 3 review stars I am more likely to see really negative stuff highlighted. But even in the 3-3.5 range I have not yet seen a real negative. That may be a conscious choice on Google’s part to keep from pissing too many SMBS off?

  4. I do like the expanded comments, but the loss of the graph? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense to me as a good way to give users an idea of the quality of the place. I’m guessing (and maybe this is the tinfoil hat talking) that maybe it has to do with making fake starred reviews less relevant…?

    Visually I thought the graph was very powerful and helped moderate the outliers in reviews by showing the sheer number of X star reviews. Having room for just one or two sentences instead of the graph means that the individual reviews that *are* chosen will have much more impact.

    I mean if all a place has showing is one good review and one bad review, it comes across as “50% of users hated this place.” even though the reality might be that one user out of 70 hated this place, but his is the review that was selected.

    Not complaining at you, Mike. Just thinking out loud.

  5. Agreed that this has the potential to alter user behaviour, but to a lesser degree when it comes to more ‘important’ decisions, such as say travel accommodation. Looking forward to this rolling out in Oz so it’s easier to demonstrate to clients the benefit of G+… Uptake in Australia is still woeful!

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