Google restaurant and hotel user review numbers don’t add up

Aug 17, 2012 1:09 pm

Skift Take

C’mon Google: You shouldn’t be using fuzzy math when boasting about your user-review numbers. You are better than that.

— Dennis Schaal

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Playing catch-up to Yelp in restaurant reviews and TripAdvisor in hotel reviews, Google has figured out a new math sort of way to inflate its user-review numbers.

For example, Yelp has 1,483 user reviews written about Cascal, a Latin restaurant in Mountain View, California, about four miles from Google headquarters.

And Google.com boasts that it has 1,081 reviews of the restaurant written by Google users.

A review is often not a review

Google’s review gap with Yelp then appears to be not very wide considering Google arrived very late to the idea of collecting reviews written by ordinary people.

But, when you click on Google’s link to 1,081 Google reviews and navigate to Google+, you discover there are only “472 reviews from everyone and 609 scores without reviews.” 

Google clearly has a different definition of “review” than its local competitors. The majority of the reviews are from users who merely scored the food, decor and service in a cryptic manner, and perhaps added a sentence or phrase.

So, in reality, Yelp, has upwards of 1,000 more full-fledged user reviews of the restaurant than does Google, but Google is trying to make it appear that the shortfall is not as severe.

And, Google is doing the same thing in its hotel reviews, misleadingly buffing up its review numbers in a similar manner, so its much smaller stockpile appears to be much closer to TripAdvisor’s trove than it is in reality.

If you are searching for the truth in restaurant and hotel user-review numbers, Google is making it difficult to find.

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