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Review Rich Snippets: What They’re For & What They’re Not For

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When it comes to ranking, everybody wants to get ahead. Review snippets have become a hot topic of late, and as with any hot topic, there are some common misconceptions that need debunking. Learn how review rich snippets can benefit your clients’ websites, as well as what they can’t accomplish.

Quick Crash Course

First, here’s a quick recap of what a review rich snippet is. This code is embedded in the HTML of your website around reviews of the business’ products or services. When the review markup is placed correctly on a page, a star rating can appear next to that page’s URL in organic search results, which can help you stand out among your competition.

How Review Rich Snippets Can Be Used

There are two main ways you can help local businesses use review rich snippets:

  1. You can help them use review markup to showcase relevant customer testimonials of their products and services. For example, an electrician can use review schema on their Circuit Breakers page to display testimonials from customers who have specifically used the electrician’s circuit breaker repair or replacement services.
  1. If you serve multi-location businesses or businesses that service customers in many cities, you can help them use review markup on city/location pages. For example, a lawyer with separate location pages for their offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton could use review schema to mark up reviews from clients of each particular location. The Dallas page would then show review stars in search results because you marked up Dallas client testimonials on that page, and so on.

When used correctly, review rich snippets are an excellent way to create a more personalized experience for your clients’ website visitors and entice them into becoming new customers. Let’s take a look at the benefits you should and should not expect to receive from these snippets.

What They’re For vs. What They’re Not For

What they’re for:

  • Showcasing reviews: You can use review rich snippets to draw attention to reviews of specific products, services, or business locations.
  • Boosting click-through rate: People may be more inclined to click on search results that have stars next to them as opposed to results that do not. A higher click-through rate means more website traffic, which could equate to more new customers.
  • Building trust: Research shows that consumers heavily lean on reviews when choosing goods and services. According to a study by Dimensional Research, 90% of online review readers say positive reviews have impacted their purchasing decisions in the past, while 86% say negative reviews impacted their decisions.

What they’re not for:

  • Boosting organic rankings: Review markup is not a ranking factor. For example, placing a snippet on a URL that ranks on page 2 won’t boost that URL to page 1. What it can do, however, is improve click-through rate for URLs already on page 1.
  • Marking up reviews sitewide: Google’s review snippet guidelines ask that you “refer clearly to a specific product or service” and “provide review and/or rating information about a specific item, not about a category or list of items.” Because each page on a website likely features a unique product, service, or office location, you should ensure the reviews you embed on these pages match the context of the page, rather than marking up the same reviews sitewide and showing the same reviews on all pages.
  • Showing reviews from third-party sites like Google: Google is somewhat vague when it comes to whether or not it’s okay to feature reviews from third-party sites on your own, but we believe the safest bet is to only mark up reviews that are unique to your client’s website. Google’s review snippet guidelines for local businesses say that “ratings must be sourced directly from users” and “sites must collect ratings information directly from users and not from others sites.” While you may be able to get review stars to show after marking up third-party reviews, our strategy is to keep these unique.

Expert Tips for More Effective Snippets

Now that you have a clearer understanding of how review rich snippets work, let’s review some tips for making them work more effectively for your clients’ websites.

  • Testing reveals that Google doesn’t display review stars on home pages, so place your markup on relevant product, service, or location pages.
  • Use the structured data testing tool to ensure the markup was implemented correctly.
  • Ensure the reviews are visible and not hidden using “display:none” or a similar tag. Google guidelines ask that you “Make sure the reviews and ratings you mark up are readily available to users from the marked-up page. It should be immediately obvious to users that the page has review or ratings content.”
  • When checking to see if review stars are working, search in incognito mode (logged out), using the keyword or phrase you know the URL ranks for. For instance, if you implemented review schema on a page you know ranks for “Pasadena plumber,” search the term “Pasadena plumber” to check if the stars are showing up.
  • Use Google’s “fetch” tool and then select “submit to index” once the markup has been added. With the fetch tool, we’ve seen review stars start showing up on the search engine results pages (SERPs) as soon as minutes after implementing this markup.
  • Google does hand out penalties for “Spammy Structured Markup.” Unlike a manual penalty for spammy links or low-quality content that harm a site’s ability to rank, this penalty would only affect the site’s ability to display stars in the search results. Still, you want to avoid a Spammy Structured Markup penalty and can do so by following the best practices covered in this article.

Don’t let your clients’ business reviews and testimonials go unnoticed. Leverage their power with review rich snippets—and make sure to do so with the right expectations and tactics!

2 Responses to “Review Rich Snippets: What They’re For & What They’re Not For”

  1. Andy Kuiper says:

    Google guidelines stipulate: “Snippets must not be written or provided by the business or content provider unless they are genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.”

    *Independent is the part that is critical here.

  2. Scorpion says:

    Definitely an important point to make! We would recommend anyone check out the “Local Business” tab of Google’s critic review guidelines before implementing any review markup on their site as an extra quality control measure to ensure compliance with Google guidelines. There are seven guidelines listed there, including the one you mentioned about independent reviews.

    https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/reviews#local-business-reviews

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