Google Using Review Snippets to Answer Specific Questions

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

ljh images / Shutterstock.comThe global marketplace makes it possible for people to buy items from manufacturers and retailers from around the globe. This is good for consumers who want choices, but it can be problematic when deciding which product to buy or what retailer to use. Reviews can help people make sense of all the various offerings on the net. Google is making small changes to their search engine results to include specific information about a product given in the form of clips from written reviews.

Google has used review in search results for certain cards on the Knowledge Graph, but this new plan uses reviews to answer specific questions about the product. For example, on the information about a specific product model, the Review snippets could show  parts of user reviews that discuss the product’s price, size, ease of use, etc.

These sections with information on “What people are saying” about a product are now appearing frequently in branded searches and Google is displaying them prominently, These “Product Card Units” as Google calls them, are accounting for a large area of the visible spaces in product knowledge panels.

According to the report from SearchEngineLand, which first reported this new feature, “the occurrence of these snippets is prevalent across a wide array of products that have a sizable number of reviews”.

Unfortunately, there’s little that business owners can to do to use these new ad placements to their benefit. The scores given for each of the product card units are based on aggregates that come from reviews sources that Google hasn’t disclosed. Searchers can click on a link in the review to visit a page with a full review of the product (such as a link to a product review on OfficeDepot.com), but it doesn’t show where the Review snippets come from.

According to SearchEngineLand, the aggregate is based on 14 different sources and the individual snippets used to answer the questions aren’t soured. This is possibly for the best, because it reduces the likelihood that marketers will try to skew the results by adding reviews to the sites Google uses as sources for the aggregate score.

The lack of identification on the ads may limit the potential of this new feature. Research has shown that knowing the source of reviews make people more likely to accept the information within. So even though there’s a snippet of a review that says the it’s a great value, not knowing who says it makes the information as useful as the marketing slogans on the side of the package.

Regardless of these shortcomings, these new cards can make Google even more useful for marketers who use the platform for PPC ads. The reviews give consumers valuable information about the product at a glance. Consumers would be more likely to click on an ad for a product that they know has a good review (which they can instantly see on the search result pages) rather than take a chance on the unreviewed products shown at the top of the page.

This feature may increase the Click Through Rates for advertisers on Google. Clicking on either of the “reviews” links in the panel takes you to the reviews page for the product in Google Shopping.

Learn more about recent changes that affect Google by reading this article on Yahoo’s test of Google Search results on certain pages on Yahoo.


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