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Rich Snippets/Poor Execution For Google Places Testimonials

November 3rd, 2010
13 Comments


While putting together the Top 10 Reviews Sites In Google Place Search report, we noticed what we thought were testimonials from a business’ website showing up in the reviews section of the result. See the below screenshot from a SERP for “Los Angeles Car Dealers“:

In its FAQ on Rich Snippets, Google states that testimonials from websites using microformats such as hReview will show up this way.  The strange thing is that FelixChevrolet.com doesn’t use microformats and the so-called testimonials from its website are not testimonials.

Here’s one of the “testimonials” that is showing up from FelixChevrolet.com:

For a low interest rate car loan in Los Angeles, visit the experts at Felix Chevrolet Cadillac. We’ve helped people get the car loans that fit their budget so that they could drive away with a new or used car quickly. Regardless of your credit status we can help. No credit or bad credit? No problem. Come down to 3330 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007 and speak to a financial professional. An affordable car loan or lease is within reach at Felix Chevrolet Cadillac.

I was checking this out with David Mihm and our conclusion was that the presence of the address in the text may have been what is causing this.  The potential for spamming Place Pages using microformats seems pretty easy.  Given this example, it may be just as easy to spam them without using microformats.

Anyone else got any ideas why this is happening?




Tags: Google · Google Maps · Google Place Pages · Google Place Search · Online Maps · Online Reviews

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Justin Smith // Nov 3, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I’ve been seeing the same thing in local searches. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on reviews that appear in local serps to see if there is any kind of association with hreview and I can’t make heads or tails of it.

    Whenever I look into reviews that come from obscure places (not yelp, YP.com, etc.) none of them seem to be using any kind of microformating for reviews/testimonials… and yet, somehow they are appearing all over in Places.

  • 2 Mike Blumenthal // Nov 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I think it is the address in the body copy that led Google to interpret it as a review as well. There was probably some word in the paragraph that caused the sentiment analysis to kick in as well.

    Why would Google distinguish between an owner’s site and any other source of of non traditional reviews. It does look like their sentiment analysis went astray.

  • 3 Seo Joe // Nov 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    The “Top 10 Reviews Sites In Google Place Search ” link at the top of the page is broken.

  • 4 Kerrie // Nov 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    saw the same thing as seo joe, looks like there is an extra http:// in there

  • 5 Urban // Nov 3, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Andrew,

    This link is broken Top 10 Reviews Sites In Google Place Search X2.

  • 6 Seth // Nov 4, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I think it’s a mistake on Google’s end, since place search is just new, perhaps a few fix and adjustments will be made sooner.

  • 7 Yousaf // Nov 4, 2010 at 1:22 am

    That is a very interesting find andrew!

  • 8 Jim Rudnick // Nov 4, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Um….Andrew…I took the link and clicked on the Place Pages URL…and found THIS as the first testimonial/review –

    “Jul 29, 2010
    Another Positive Review – Oh wait…..‎‎ WARNING: DO NOT USE THIS DEALERSHIP – DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH FELIX. It should be obvious to anyone with a bit of logic that the google reviews for this car dealership are crafted by the very hands of the individuals WORKING FOR FELIX.My favorite bogus review is the following. The lack of attention to detail is incredible: “Wow keep it simple they do…” By Steve on Jun 3rd of 2010. [...]Thanks Steve and his Sales Staff for such a great sales experience it was Awesome.. See you soon when I am ready for my first service David D.‎ — Google says it is “By Steve” and yet the review is praising “Steve” and “his Sales Staff” for their hard work. The review is then signed “David D.” So the cut and dry is this guy Steve, wrote a positive review – about himself….”

    Seems like someone else, back in July noticed this a bit too, eh!
    and aint KARMA great….

    Oh — do the rest of you see this too? or just cause I’m up here in canuckland maybe only we Canadians do?
    :-)

    Jim

  • 9 Andrew Shotland // Nov 4, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Link fixed. Thanks for the quality check guys!

    Jim, I didn’t notice the slam when I posted this, but hopefully my readers understand that this post is not an endorsement of Felix Chevrolet. I recommend Oscar Chevrolet for all your car needs.

    BTW looks like since I posted this, the Place SERP doesn’t show up for this query anymore. Coincidence?

  • 10 Jim Rudnick // Nov 4, 2010 at 10:40 am

    “Oscar ChevOlds?”

    LOL!!!!

    and yup, that Place serp is gone when viewed from up here too, Andrew….

    and I now notice that Toyota/Scion has a Sponsored tag too, but cant remember if that was there earlier this am….

    …sigh…changes, eh!
    :-)

    Jim

  • 11 Trish // Nov 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    The Place SERP is back (at least here in the LA area).

    Anyway, I think that the address just needs to be on the page rather than in the “review” text block itself. I’ve found an instance where the business address was higher on the page (part of contact info) and the text block was lower (part of business overview) but didn’t contain the address. The business overview was pulled into the place page as a review. It contained words like “choice” so I’d say sentiment analysis is kicking in too.

  • 12 Drew // Nov 5, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I have found that even when I purposefully put a hReview on a website that the information shows up about half the time.

    I had to go check out the reviews after reading what Jim said… yep hilarious what’s going. I think you may have hurt ol Steve’s feelings… I don’t see his name listed on the reviews anymore.

  • 13 Andrew Shotland // Nov 5, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Drew, GOOG appears to have removed reviewer names in the past couple of days.

    http://blumenthals.com/blog/2010/11/05/google-places-reviewer-names-no-longer-showing/

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