The Key to Understanding Google’s Robots

It’s virtually impossible to avoid using Google as part of any marketing strategy.

But as every business that uses Google knows, the rewards to be reaped from its services are huge yet dealing with the technology behemoth can be absolutely infuriating. This frustration with Google often reaches its crescendo when it comes to dealing with Google Reviews.

There are a lot of things for the marketing pro to explain. Some helpful tips might even help understand how Google works, but they may not totally remove that feeling of frustration.

Things to know about Google and the online/tech industry in general:

    • Tech giants are not like traditional industries. They never release a finished product. Everything is a big test. They launch broken services (beta) and fix things along the way. New products and services almost never provide a seamless working experience. For example, Google Places, Google Maps, Google+, and Google Reviews were conceived as separate services and when Google decided to merge them the result was complete chaos. Google tries to prioritize and fix problems according to what brings them the most revenue, not what is the best for the users of the service. Frustrating, but understandable.


    • Google (the company with employees) is different than the Google we all use every day. The Google we use to search or post a review is really made up of a bunch of computers that work using algorithms that are so complex they would confound us mere mortals. To the average human being, the logic seems completely random and without sense. But there is logic to it. Thousands upon thousands of people at Google work on those algorithms and nothing else. But once the algorithm is instituted, as it were, the robots make decisions about content posted by humans (posts, reviews, etc.) and those decisions are made without any human intervention.


  • Let’s just scratch the surface on the review algorithm, for example. The Google computers do a deep background search on the person posting the review. They look for information such as:
    • Is the person posting related to the business in one way or another?
    • Where is the location of the computer used to post the review?
    • How many reviews has that person posted before?
    • Is that person actively using other google products (like YouTube or Gmail)?
    • Does the review contain a specific sequence of words or turns of phrases that have been deemed of low value by Google?

There are literally millions of questions like these that the algorithm is trained to consider when analyzing a review.

The previous paragraph may help to explain why it takes so darned long for Google to post reviews and also why there isn’t really an ETA on when reviews might be posted. All the reviews written about all the businesses on the planet are put on a giant queue. It is impossible to know how long it takes for the Google robot to analyze a review as it depends on all of the above factors, and no human eyes, to know how many reviews are waiting to be posted ahead of the one submitted for your business (could be three thousand or five million).

Then there’s the robot factor. If the review contains something that the robot has been programmed to recognize as spam (not what we think of as spam as the Google definition is a very broad and generic term), it will be dismissed without any notification and without a way to appeal. The algorithm is literally judge, jury, and executioner.

Is the Google system perfect? Absolutely not.

Is Google broken? It sure seems like it sometimes, but let’s not go that far.

Is someone working on it? Yes the humans working at Google understand the value of reviews and their impact on businesses. Furthermore, as the whole, Google Places and Google Reviews represent a HUGE vector of growth for THEIR business and they are working hard on refining the process and making it more efficient for everyone. It might not be relevant to your business in particular, but as an example the Google Places batch verification process is something that didn’t exist not so long ago.

The whole notion of Google is hard thing to wrap one’s head around. Imagine driving a car that is morphing as you hurtle down the freeway. It’s a sedan then it’s a convertible. The size of the wheels is randomly changing. You have no control on the accelerator or the brakes. You’re just a pair of hands on the wheel, doing the best to maintain keep it between the ditches and moving forward. You’re not really the driver.

Frustration with this opaque process is completely understandable.

But there are concrete things you can do to best position your business for success in a Google world. It begins with a basic understanding that the internet is a great equalizer – which puts the start-up, the independent, and the big guys equal footing. There us a huge opportunity for all businesses to reconnect with their customers in a whole new way that inspires engagement and sharing, organically, naturally, and in a way that earns attention of the robot.

In the meantime, talking with experts who live and breathe this connected environment can often make this process smoother and be that missing human link you’re looking for while figuring out how to deal with that faceless monolith.

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