Google Giving Less Weight to Reviews of Places You Stop Visiting?

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Google Timeline Reviews

The Weight of Google Reviews

I don’t consider myself paranoid, but after reading a lot of Google patents, I’ve been thinking of my phone as my Android tracking device. It’s looking like Google thinks of phones similarly; paying a lot of attention to things such as a person’s location history. After reading a recent patent, I’m fine with Google continuing to look at my location history, and reviews that I might write, even though there may not be any financial benefit to me. When I write a review of a business at Google, it’s normally because I’ve either really liked that place or disliked it, and wanted to share my thoughts about it with others.

A Google patent application filed and published by the search engine, but not yet granted is about reviews of businesses.

It tells us about how Google reviews can benefit businesses:

Furthermore, once a review platform has accumulated a significant number of reviews it can be a useful resource for users to identify new entities or locales to visit or experience. For example, a user can visit the review platform to search for a restaurant at which to eat, a store at which to shop, or a place to have drinks with friends. The review platform can provide search results based on location, quality according to the reviews, pricing, and/or keywords included in textual reviews.

But, there are problems with Google reviews that this patent sets out to address and assist with:

However, one problem associated with review platforms is collecting a significant number of reviews. For example, a large majority of people do not take the time to visit the review platform and contribute a review for each point of interest they visit throughout a day.

Furthermore, even after a review is contributed by a user, the user’s opinion of the point of interest may change, rendering the contributed review outdated and inaccurate. For example, a restaurant for which the user previously provided a positive review may come under new ownership or experience a change in kitchen staff that causes the quality of the restaurant to decrease. As such, the user may cease visiting the restaurant or otherwise decrease a frequency of visits. However, the user may not take the time to return to the review platform and update their review.

The patent does have a solution to Google reviews that don’t get made or updated – if a person stops going to a place that they have reviewed in the past, the review that they submitted may be treated as a diminished review:

Thus, a location history associated with a user can provide one or more signals that indicate an implied review of points of interest. Therefore, systems and methods for using user location information to provide reviews are needed. In particular, systems and methods for providing a diminished review for a point of interest when a frequency of visits by one or more users to the point of interest decreases are desirable.

The pending patent application is at:

User Location History Implies Diminished Review
Inventors: Daniel Victor Klein and Dean Kenneth Jackson
US Patent Application 20170358015
Published: December 14, 2017
Filed: April 7, 2014

Abstract

Systems and methods for providing reviews are provided. One example system includes one or more computing devices. The system includes one or more non-transitory computer-readable media storing instructions that, when executed by the one or more computing devices, cause the one or more computing devices to perform operations. The operations include identifying, based on a location history associated with a user, a first signal. The first signal comprises a frequency of visits by the user to a first point of interest over a first time period. The operations include identifying, based on the location history associated with the user, a change in the first signal after the first time period. The operations include providing a diminished review for the user with respect to the first point of interest when the identified change comprises a decrease in the frequency of visits by the user to the first point of interest.

Some highlights about Google Reviews from the patent description:

1. Location updates can be received from more than one mobile device associated with a user, to create a location history over time.

2. Points of interest can be tracked and cover a really wide range of place types; or a point of interest such as a shopping mall may be treated as a single point of interest.

3. A person may control what information is collected about their location, and may be given a chance to modify or update that information.

4. Not visiting a particular place may lead to an assumption that a “user’s opinion of the point of interest has diminished or otherwise changed.”

5. A Diminished review might be a negative review or a lowering of a review score.

6. A reviewer may also be asked to “confirm or edit/elaborate on the previously contributed review,” if they don’t return to a place they have reviewed in a while.

7. User Contributed Reviews could be said to have a decay period, in which, their influence on search or rating systems wanes.”

8. Other factors besides a change of opinion about a place may be considered, such as a change of residence or workplace to a new location, or an overall change in visitation patterns for all points of interest. These types of changes may not lead to a diminished review.

9. Aggregated frequencies of visits from many people may be considered, and if many still continue to visit a place, then a change by one people may not be used to reduce an overall score for a place. If visits by many people show a decrease than an assumption that something has changed with the point of interest could affect the overall score.

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20 thoughts on “Google Giving Less Weight to Reviews of Places You Stop Visiting?”

  1. what is actual work for google review? bcz people generally come on google and search what they are looking for. but never found the review is better source for search engine ranking. Is it?

  2. Wait a minute, why not let the date of the reviews dictate the accuracy of the quality of the business, rather than assume an older review is inaccurate? I don’t think this is fair to the business or the user. Am I missing the point here?

  3. Hi JL,

    I think it is a safe assumption when a review has aged a bit that a newer fresher review would be more reflective of what the business is like now. Reviews aren’t necessarily supposed to be fair to a business, but instead are supposed to be helpful to people who might visit that business. Allowing a decay element to affect older scores is likely reasonable, as is giving a reviewer a chance to update or amend older reviews, which is an ideal situation. It is possible for a great restaurant to lose an owner, a chef, or staff that helped make it very successful, and places do change over time, sometimes getting better, and sometimes getting worse. An updated review is ideally the best way to approach that.

  4. Hi Jina,

    People often search for reviews of places that they are thinking about visitiing and using. Even if a review doesn’t affect ranking (it is possible that it could, but we don’t know that for certain), it may affect whether or not people visit and make purchases. I’ve dined at places that I’ve found good reviews for, without being too much concerned about how highly they were ranked in search results (the rankings don’t seem to affect the flavor of food.

  5. I understand that a review made in 2016 should not have the same relevance as one in 2017, time can be a fundamental factor (especially in the development of business). But, if a user did a good review at a specific time, he should not lose interest just because he does not return to that place…
    Thanks for sharing the information. Very interesting.
    !

  6. Hi Gemma,

    They did make some interesting comments in the patent, like saying that if someone returns to the area where a restaurant is located, but doesn’t go back to that restaurant, it is possible that there is a reason why they haven’t. It could be difficult capturing everything in a patent, but creating something that is reasonable should be possible. I would be wondering why someone would just stop going to a specific place.

  7. Diminishing a review because it’s not getting repeat visits doesn’t make much sense for many business types. You might see a lawyer for a specific service just once in your life. You’re not going to go back and visit him at his office all the time. Or service area businesses that come to you. Or if you’re travelling and buy something at a retail store. There are so many businesses that are not going to have repeat visits.

    Rather than diminishing when you don’t get repeat visits, it would make more sense for it to be a booster when you DO get repeat visits. Maybe I’ll apply for a patent on that reverse concept. 🙂

  8. Hi Darren,

    It’s possible that for some business types this may not make a lot of sense, such as lawyers or accountants. But, for restaurants, hair salons, and other places you might reasonably return to on a regular basis, wondering why you aren’t does seem like a good thing to be concerned about. Most patents are written to “people learned in the art” that is being discussed. The point you raise is likely an obvious one to most people who know about the value of reviews. I think this patent has a lot of merit. When I come across reviews that are 3-4 years old, or older for a restaurant, I don’t think they have much value because restaurants do change over time; that is likely common sense, too. Applying a decay factor to the scores of those older reviews sounds reasonable.

    A patent on boosting sites that get return visits sounds like a good idea, and might lead to a really strong review site.

  9. I’m concerned about certain reviews that are not of quality when it comes to how they are written. Certainly, there are nuances about every customer’s taste and preferences.

    I would also take into consideration a reviewer’s lifestyle if we take into account repeated visits. For example is a review from a traveler who constantly visits restaurants weighted more or less than a person who is stationary and visits the same place every day? I think that’s a nuance that should be discussed as well.

  10. Dear Bill, thank you for great explanation!

    What about the business where clients have single purchase in lifetime? For example I work with wedding dresses designer and helping her business with local SEO, and marketing.

    Brides visits her wedding fashion studio only once/few times.

    What about patent in this case? Do we need to think, how to invite them back after wedding … and later on?

    Thank you for your opinion.

    Kind regards from Lithuania!

  11. I wonder if there’s also an assumption built into this that distance between a person’s home and the place, in combination with their infrequency of visit, will be an exception to the diminished reviews. Or if they will make assumptions with that data to classify the user in context with their visit. For example, places visited during a vacation.

  12. Hi,

    i Just want to say thank this post was awesome and fulfill with lots of information i have been reading many blogs but your blog has good and informative content that really attract i will be coming back to read more interesting tips from you keep up the good work.

  13. Thanks, Bill Slawski for information about Google because everyone wants to know about Google guidelines and Google review methods and I still find it. Thanks a lot again please keep sharing this type of Information.

  14. The cause is the review filter, that runs periodically and takes down tons of reviews at once that they deem illegitimate. The filter does not run in real time which means you could have
    a review stick to your listing for months and then vanish at the same time as several other reviews.

  15. Another awesome articles and i find more new information, i like that kind of information, not only i like that post all peoples like that post, because of all given information was very excellent.

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