Google & Reviews Snippets – If It Can Go Wrong It Will Go Very Wrong Category

Update 3/5: Dan notes the response he received from support: “We attempted to retain the review itself and could not do so as a “snippet”, though it still stands as a wonderful review for your business. We removed the confusing snippet from your account.”

Update 2:27 PM (PST) 2/27: Googler Jade Wang just posted this on Dan’s original post: We are working to correct or remove this snippet. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Last  year Google added review snippets that represent general sentiment to the Knowledge Panel. These snippets are determined by algo and are intended to represent the public’s attitude about a business . Like all Google algos sooner or later they screw up and in inimitable fashion Google is unwilling or unable to fix it.

Dan Petrovic of DejanSEO in Australia reported a case on G+ yesterday where a positive review of his business was mangled into a negative snippet.


I, in my best Boy Scout behavior, suggested that he might want to contact the group that dealt with business snippets and see if they would take it down.

Here is Dan’s reply from Sylvia B. :

Thanks for contacting Google Places for Business support regarding the descriptive terms associated with your business on the local Google+ page for your business. At this time, we do not remove terms for reasons such as being unclear or negative. These terms are a piece of our search results and we try to avoid editing or creating bias in what we show.”

If Google’s head were any further up their arse than this they could still pull it out 12″ and have another 12″ to go.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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15 thoughts on “Google & Reviews Snippets – If It Can Go Wrong It Will Go Very Wrong Category”

  1. Ah, Murphy’s Law. Google breathes new life into it.

    Google’s been trying to muscle in on Yelp’s review-mindshare for a while now. Quite successfully, I might add: they’re on the way to becoming every bit as loathed. Take that, Jeremy!

  2. I’ve witnessed a similar situation but instead of negative I’ve seen incorrect data in a snippet. How did you contact the group that deals with business snippets?

  3. We ran into the same response with one of our clients. Google decided to create two snippets from the same negative review and display it on the client’s knowledge panel.

  4. The issue is the original review is written with a double negative. (your screenshot) If the reviewer spoke/wrote proper English, then I’m sure Google could parse a proper snippet.
    And users (customers) aren’t stupid, the human brain can parse sentiment fairly easily. Stop being a google hater.

  5. @Al
    While it is understandable that this might occur, it is a machine after all, there are good reasons to critique Google in this situation.

    Critique is not hate. If you knew me you would know that I really do want Google to do better and be better. You may not like my tone but at my age I have earned the privilege of being cranky once in a while.

    While a user could dig deeper and ferret out the error, that is very unlikely to happen. The review snippet is showing on the front page of Google for a brand search. That would require a second click to analyze all of the reviews, read through them and find the one that this references.

    Google in presenting this information on the front page for a business is attempting to be accurate and has a responsibility to do so. They are not perfect so to their credit they have added support staff to fix these sorts of issues.

    The answer from support was from a human. And proves that humans can be even dumber than a machine. In this case, it should have been obvious to them that the machine had in fact not been able to parse this double negative well and should have taken the initiative to act.

    Dan is more persistent than most, he was lucky in that he had access to the contact form and was able after the above stupid response to get Google to reconsider. Most small businesses do not have that luxury.

    If Google is going to profit by using SMB data and the business is to develop ads and marketing around that effort, then Google should take the time to fix these sorts of errors in a timely fashion with no bull shit.

  6. With a little tweak, Google could have taken advantage of a real opportunity here:

    “Please stop your search, without fail you will not find a more successful Search Engine…”

    But of course, they don’t want to create bias in what they show.

  7. I work with a volunteer group that has something called the “Common Sense Clause”. In short, it essentially says, “Our rules are guidelines to follow but not a replacement for common sense.” Seems like Google (and others) could use this clause in their companies.

  8. @mike – it’s all good man, I like your often snide comments – it’s one reason I enjoy your blog.
    And we’ll have to agree to disagree on users and seeing review snippets. i still think people know intent even in a poorly parsed snippet. Plus, sometimes that negative could stimulate a further click (cuz ppl like negatives) and get them actually dig into the reviews further – which would be good for the biz.

    Lastly, Google profiting off SMB data – that can be looked at in a couple ways as well. Those SMBs wouldn’t have near the access to traffic they do if it wasn’t for Google being generous. The local cards (as large as they are now) used to be just ad space. Google literally gave up revenue in order to display larger, more robust cards for the betterment of the user experience (and in turn betterment of the small business). I don’t know many large companies that would do that.


    1. @AL
      Certainly Google has sent much more business to local businesses than they have turned away. That doesn’t change their responsibility to get it right.

      As far as I can tell a very, very small percentage of folks ever leave Google’s main page and head into Plus. I can’t imagine (although I might be wrong) that review exploration is much higher.

  9. What a difference a few words make … that’s a bad scenario and I’m really glad Jade is going to take steps to correct it. Completely agree with you, Mike, that this is the only right thing for Google to do. Yikes!

  10. Hey Allyn,
    I get what you’re saying, but I’ve been looking at Google’s local results for something like a decade, and if I had only read that snippet, I would have perceived it as a negative remark about the business. Not because I’m a dope, but because the language indicates dissatisfaction. Glad you get it that Mike, far from being a Google-hater, is actually one of the greatest authorities any of us know on Google’s evolution in the local arena over the past 10 years. Like you, I really love Mike’s reportage – depend on it, in fact.

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