How Google Might Choose High Quality Reviews to Display for Products and Businesses

If you want to write a review that more people might see, and that might be selected by a search engine as a “representative review” to display for a business or product or service, there are probably a few things that you might want to keep in mind while writing. At least according to a patent filing from a couple of Google employees. It isn’t officially assigned to Google at this point, but it lists a Google patent application that I wrote about last November on Reputations for Reviewers and Raters as a related filing.

The patent is filled with descriptions of “quality” signals that describe the ideal review, and it provides some good advice regarding what Google might look for in a review.

Run your review through a spell checker and grammar checker – chances are that Google will.

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Google Research Paper on Online Reviews for Merchants and Products

People often search the Web for reviews of products they might buy and merchants from whom they might purchase goods and services. It’s easy to lose track of time reading reviews on sites like Amazon, where people seem to enjoy sharing their opinions about almost anything. It’s not so easy to find online reviews of merchants surrounding me in a somewhat rural community.

Reviews are interesting when it comes to how they might be treated by search engines, how they could possible impact local search rankings, how a search engine might identify review spam, and the potential impact of those online reviews upon word of mouth and the reputations of businesses and the sales of goods and services.

For instance, Google Rich Snippets allow snippets to show the number of stars a place might have received in reviews from a particular resouce such as Yelp:

A screenshot of Google search results showing results for two different restaurants in a search for [pizza] in New York, indicating a number of starred reviews.

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Google Quality Scores for Publishers: The Carrot and the Stick?

Google’s Panda update has web publishers concerned about how Google is ranking their pages based upon features found on those pages that Google might use to “measure” the quality of those pages. A Google Webmaster Central blog post published earlier this month from Google Fellow Amit Singhal, More guidance on building high-quality sites, tells us:

Our site quality algorithms are aimed at helping people find “high-quality” sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content. The recent “Panda” change tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality.

The blog post includes a large number of questions that publishers might ask themselves about the quality of the content and the user experience on their websites, to give them some ideas on how they might improve both the content and the user experience. In some ways, this reranking of lower quality content has been a stick from the search engine, but what if Google used a carrot instead?

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Will Google Pursue Chillaxn’s Social Application Patent?

Last August, Google announced that they had purchased social network application creator Slide, in a post titled Google and Slide: building a more social web. Since then, Slide appears to have been running independently of Google, to the point where they’ve launched a Group Texting application named Disco.

While searching through patents granted this week, one of the titles grabbed my attention. System for targeting third party content to users based on social networks (US Patent 7,941,535) was granted on May 10, 2011 and originally filed back on May 7, 2008. It’s not assigned to Google, or even Slide, but one of the inventors named on the patent, Doug Sherrets, has been a Slide employee since 2007. His LinkedIn profile also discloses that he has been a Facebook Shareholder since 2005.

A social search and networking interface that includes a column showing where friends had recently visited, and where they've left comments or ratings or posts.

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Google’s Paraphrase-Based Indexing, Part 2

Paraphrases happen.

People write news exploring a particular event, and use slightly different words to convey the same or a similar meaning based upon their own personal style, different levels of expertise or background knowledge, or a desire to try to be somewhat unique.

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Bloggers may cover a particular concept or story and add their own unique touch to a headline or post about a topic.

Ecommerce site publishers may craft their own description of a product that shares some words and ideas with others.

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Google’s Paraphrase-Based Indexing, Part 1

Imagine if Google could identify similar snippets of text when it comes across them in its index and recognize that they might be related in a meaningful way. For example, the search engine might see a headline on a news article that says, “Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan,” and another one noting that, “Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan.” Is Google capable of understanding paraphrases like that?

Is paraphrase-based indexing influencing the search results below?

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Microsoft’s Approach to Identifying Quality Search Results Based on User Feedback?

When we see a change at one of the major search engines like the Panda update at Google, it’s not a bad idea to look at whether or not one of the other search engines has done something similar, or at least published some research on a similar approach.

A flowchart from the Microsoft patent showing how patterns involving user-behavior might influence dynamically improving search results.

Interestingly, a patent granted to Microsoft this week (though originally filed back in 2004) describes how the quality of search results might be judged, and those results possiblity changed, based upon user feedback. The patent is:

Automated satisfaction measurement for web search
Invented by Oliver Hurst-Hiller, Eric Watson, and Susan T. Dumais
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent 7,937,340
Granted May 3, 2011
Filed March 22, 2004

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The Google Video Patent

Back in 2005, Google filed a patent application on Ranking video articles which gives some insights into Google’s future plans for what they might do with video, and some of the possible ranking algorithms they would consider using.

Google Video search went live in January of 2005, and its focus was in helping people find videos on the Web and on television, and providing a place for people to upload videos that could be watched from the service or embedded on other sites. The patent shows a screen that would allow you to enter your local TV provider:

A Google Video Preferences set up screen that would allow you to enter your zip code and TV listings provider.

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