Posted by Chloe Zabicki, SEO Analyst We already know what the Human Algorithm is, so now it’s time to understand why participants are motivated to look outside of traditional search results. As a cupcake blogger, before I venture out to review any miniature confection, I always do a quick search of the place I plan to visit, mostly so I won’t get lost on the way there. Sometimes, in my search, I catch a glimpse of other reviews. Of course, being a professional and completely unbiased cupcake reviewer, I would never let this sway my opinion of the culinary delights I have set out to evaluate. However, to the lesser trained eye, it could certainly present a problem if the bakery you are about to review has been given a whopping review of “Terrible cupcakes” and one star on Yelp. Who would honestly feel inspired to eat there after reading that? This leads us to ask, why do we place our trust in sites like Yelp or Menupages to begin with, rather than traditional search engines for a recommendation? When I reflect on the fact that actual humans have been to these places and can tell me a first hand experience if this place “sucks,” it all begins to make sense. You don’t know these reviewers, and yet it’s hard to ignore the strength of their opinions. For example, look at the above Yelp review. The reviewer highlights the smell, and how several times they have attempted to give the restaurant a try. Based on the review alone I, myself, would be quite compelled to go somewhere else. However, it’s not all negative. I have found shopping online for clothing to be nearly impossible due to the inconsistency in women’s sizes. One trend that I have started to identify on certain sites is customer reviews that comment on the fit of the garment as opposed to whether or not they liked it. For example, did it run true to size? And how so? Was the color brighter or darker than what they saw onscreen, etc. This serves as valuable information that search engines cannot provide.
If we could read this woman’s thoughts, she might be saying, “Thank goodness I found just the right dress to wear when taking a walk with my horse. If not for these customer reviews, I never would have known to order a size up as their ‘fits generously’ description is totally inaccurate!” Let’s be honest. While many searchers seek reviews, comments, and look at “likes” to make a purchase decision; how many participants simply search reviews for amusement? The Human Algorithm doesn’t always have to serve a purpose. Sometimes it’s just entertaining, for example, the sarcastic reviewers of Amazon.