Google Can’t Take an Average

I did a search on Google for “nike shoes” and saw the following results:

(click image to enlarge)

One ad on the right is for FinishLine.com and Google says that they are rated 4+ stars. So, I clicked on the word ‘rated’ and got the following reviews page:

(click image to enlarge)

You can view the full-sized image, but the important things to notice are that:

  1. The seller is rated 4.4 stars (out of 5 stars). But…..
  2. Two out of the 6 featured quotes at the top of the page are negative. And,
  3. Seven out of the top 10 ratings are 1-star.

OK, this is like bait-and-switch. Google’s telling the user that FinishLine.com is a great retailer, but then showing them lots of negative reviews. (If I was FinishLine.com, I’d be pretty upset about paying for an ad where Google rates me as 4+ stars, only to have users get taken to a page where 1/3 of the featured quotes and 70% of the reviews about me are negative.)

Also notice that there is a colored bar at the top of the page that says (when a searcher mouses-over on the actual page, not my screenshot):

  • 1-star ratings: 18
  • 2-star ratings: 2
  • 3-star ratings: 0
  • 4-star ratings: 5, and
  • 5-star ratings: 17

Riddle me this, Batman. How in the world can eighteen 1-star ratings, seventeen 5-star ratings, five 4-stars and two 2-stars possibly result in an overall seller rating of 4.4 stars (out of 5)?

A weighted average of these numbers is 3.02, not 4.4.

Is Google weighting positive reviews much more than negative reviews? It is weighting reviews from some websites as more important than ones from other websites? Why doesn’t Google just say right on the review page how that score is calculated?

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