Why does Amazon show more “Ratings” than ReviewMeta shows “Reviews”?
UPDATE JULY 2020: Amazon has taken even more steps to hide the true number of “Reviews”. You’re now required to click through to the reviews page to see how many actual written reviews there are. We’re making some changes and will be updating this guide soon.
Ever since Amazon’s addition of the “One-Tap Rating” feature back in October ’19, I’ve been seeing more and more questions asking why our original review count is often lower than what is being displayed on Amazon. The key to understanding is paying attention to when Amazon uses the word “Ratings” versus when they use the word “Reviews”. Most shoppers conflate the two, and I don’t blame them. However on Amazon, there’s an important distinction. A “Rating” is simply the number of stars someone gives to the product (1 through 5). A “Review” is an actual piece of text that are written about the product.
On October 3rd, 2019, I posted an article criticizing Amazon’s update: Amazon’s One-Tap Review System: Another Step Backwards. The summary is that Amazon now allows people to submit “Ratings” without writing an actual “Review” (of course you can still write “Reviews”). Unfortunately, this one-tap rating system makes it impossible for us (or anyone else, including everyday shoppers) to see any detail on the ratings and thus makes it impossible to get any sense of whether or not these ratings are real or not. We can’t see the dates the ratings were submitted, which users submitted the ratings, what other products those users rated, etc. This has already led to abuse:
This pair of headphones boasts 5,068 5-star “ratings”, but not a single review. What are the odds? @Amazon, we told you that your “One-Tap Rating” system was going to lead to more abuse.https://t.co/y5a47ATSH4pic.twitter.com/V9xIZut2Os
— ReviewMeta (@ReviewMeta) November 14, 2019
So let’s take a look at an example and see how it could be a bit confusing. Say you are looking at an Amazon product, and you see:
1,321 Ratings. (Note that it says “Ratings” and not “Reviews” here.)
You run the report through ReviewMeta, and you see this:
Wait! What’s going on? ReviewMeta is only showing an original score of 475 Reviews! (Note that it says “Reviews” here, not “Ratings” – we’re trying to stay consistent with Amazon’s terminology.)
Now you flip back to the Amazon product page, scroll down about halfway (most shoppers will overlook this) and see:
Ok! There’s that 475 number and it says “Reviews” this time. Let’s continue.
Back up to 1,321 but has the “Ratings” label again. Now if we scroll ALL the way to the bottom, we’ll finally get some clarification:
If we click the link to see all reviews, it will become even more clear that there really are only 475 Reviews that one could actually read:
So it seems Amazon is technically differentiating the “Ratings” and “Reviews” terminology, but it’s easy to see how the average shopper might not notice the slightly different wording. Again, Amazon does NOT show any data behind their one-tap ratings, so it is impossible for us (or anyone else) to analyze these ratings and estimate their authenticity. The only thing we can look at is the “Reviews”, so that is exactly what we will continue to analyze.