Posted On
January 22, 2018

Google Issued Patent for Determining Value of an Online Review

Google Issued Patent for Determining Value of an Online Review 1

What’s an online review worth? How long do online reviews stay relevant to potential customers? Can I predict who is going to leave a negative online review?

These are all popular questions with anyone who is concerned with their online reputation. The problem is the answer to each of these questions is usually, “it depends.” That makes it a bit of a challenge to get some to buy into an online reputation management program.

Fortunately, a new Google patent shines a ray of hope that we can sound more definitively answers these questions. A little over a month ago Google was issued a patent for a online review system that leverages a users location history and frequency of visits to determine the “decay point” of an online review.

Channeling my inner Bill Slawski, who regularly digs into Google’ search patents, I dove head first into User Location History Implies Diminished Review, USPO Application 20170358015, to look for answers.

Here’s what I found:

    • The patent focuses on three main items; user location history, frequency of visits, and recency to determine the value or weighting on an online review.
    • The more the user has visited the business location, and the areas surrounding the business location over a period of time, the more accurate that online review is for the location. This indicates the online review should be more heavily weighted.
    • The less frequently a user has visited a business location, and the area surrounding the business over a period of time, the less accurate that online review is for the location, in relation to other online reviews left by users with more frequency.
    • The a decrease in frequency of visits, or recency of visits to a business location over a period time, also indicates a diminished value to the online review.

What this means:

  • Google is using actual Google account location history (and probably whatever it can get from the device) and attempting to weight (or assign value) to online reviews left on your GMB profile.
  • Google knows that online reviews are not all the same and that users want greater context to the rating. Google understands that over time as online review volume grows, they have to figure out to display reviews by more than when they were left or what rating was selected.
  • Online reviews left by your best customers, the ones who frequent your business the most, are likely to be the highest weighted or valued online reviews. This means Google is likely to show these reviews in their review snippets and more highly in the list of all reviews for your business.
  • Leveraging the user location data and history, Google may also be able to better filter out fake online reviews. Since the majority of fake online reviews tend to come from overseas or outside of the area of the business, this seems to be a way one could filter out fake online reviews left on GMB profiles.

Google doesn’t believe much in human intervention to solve their problems, thus a programmatic solution must evolve. It appears from this patent filing that given enough user location data and history, they can programmatically weight the various online reviews on your profiles, offering better information to those looking at your reviews, and also potentially eliminate the threat of fake online reviews.

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Garrett Smith
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