Natural Search Blog

Google Maps Introduces User Review Snippets in Listings

The Google Lat Long Blog announced today that they’ve introduced little snippets of a user review with each business listing for which they have reviews data:

User Review Snippets in Google Maps
(click to enlarge)

To me, this seems like a bit of an experimental feature, since I tend to want to see a sampling of multiple reviews to try to get a balanced picture of what to expect from a business. Of course, one can click through and view multiple reviews, but why would I only want to see one sample — is there something being done to try to select the most-typical review for the business, or are they only selecting random ones?

Google Map Reviews Snippets - Detail
(click to enlarge)

Since I prefer seeing a few reviews to get a sampling, it seems like an experimental interface to me — but it must have passed through usability testing for them to have introduced it, so perhaps other users don’t mind having the real estate taken up by only a single review snippet.

I’d love to know what the criteria is for which snippet displays. While many/most samples I’ve seen are showing very positive review snippets, some are displaying one of the negative review snippets. It may be that random snippets are displayed, or it could be that the snippet comes from the first review of the first review provider for them. I think it’d be great if Google were actually doing some algorithmic evaluation to try to display a snippet from the most-typical review rather than the apparently-random choice.

What’s your opinion? If there’s only limited real estate to display business information in listings, what info would you prefer to have listed that isn’t already, if review snippets were not there? I’m thinking business hours of operation, but there’s other stuff as well. What would be your choice?

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