Testimonials and reviews are important for businesses. This is especially true in the online market since users can’t have physical interactions with the products or services they’re intending to buy or pay for. Which is why most of us rely on the reviews and testimonials of the people who had physical experience with the product and we let these reviews affect our decision to proceed with the purchase. This is where the review rich results play an integral part. But with the recent update that Google made, we, as SEOs and webmasters, need to adapt immediately.
Review Rich Results
The review rich results have been available in the search results for a considerable amount of time now, and most business and services websites use these to affect a user’s buying process. This is what the review rich results look like:
Review Rich Results components:
- Star Rating – Signify the degree of satisfactions reviewers had while using or experiencing the product or service
- Votes – The number of users that had experience with the product or service
- Price Range – Symbolized by the dollar sign “$” that is meant to let users know the price range of the product or service
For the longest time, we’ve been creating review schema codes for all our clients since it’s much better for SEO and to further assist a user’s buying process. However, Google’s recent update to the Review Rich Results necessitates that we need to edit or tweak the markups that we’ve used and so should you.
Review Rich Results Update
Yesterday, Monday (September 16th), Google published a new post on their blog that details on the algorithmic changes they made to the reviews in rich results. The update aims to make review rich results more helpful and meaningful. They also want to address some invalid or misleading implementations that us, webmasters, have flagged to them such as this one:
I found this schema markup in the search results. See the 5000+ review count? I was extremely doubtful of the reviewCount so I investigated it and from their Business listing, Facebook page, and other review sources, the review count doesn’t even reach 100. I immediately reported it to Google, but so far, no action has been taken and this review rich result is still in the search results.
Applicable Schema Types
Historically speaking, you can attach the review markup in any schema type. But the update, Google aims to limit the schema types that can potentially trigger review rich results. This is because they don’t want random review rich results appearing in a keyword or topic that doesn’t add much value to the user’s journey. Here are the updated types that review markups are applicable:
I’m assuming that if you apply a review markup in any other schema type, then your review rich results has little to no chances of showing up since they limited it to the types mentioned above.
Self-serving reviews, by its very name, are your reviews to your own products or service. This is misleading and it doesn’t add much value to the users, hence, Google will not count self-serving reviews anymore. Here’s how Google defines “self-serving reviews”:
“Reviews that can be perceived as “self-serving” aren’t in the best interest of users. We call reviews “self-serving” when a review about entity A is placed on the website of entity A – either directly in their markup or via an embedded 3rd party widget.”
Although, it is important to note that this change to self-serving reviews is limited to LocalBusiness and Organization schema types and their subtypes.
Lastly, this update involves Google requiring webmasters, SEOs, and developers, to include the name property to their review markup.
“With this update, the name property is now required, so you’ll want to make sure that you specify the name of the item that’s being reviewed.”
They did not specify what would happen if you didn’t put in the name property, but I suggest we put it in any way since we don’t have anything to lose by adding it.
How the Review Rich Result Update Affects SEO
We all know that Review Rich Results are is not included in the top ranking factors. Your website can still rank well without having the review markup but this doesn’t mean that it’s not an important factor to increasing sales, assisting users, and serving information to the search engines (and users).
Review markup is only a small part of SEO and even CRO, but little changes like these goes a long way. Take the character limit for title tags. It was a small change, but it affected the bigger picture of SEO. Review markups are the same, these little changes that Google makes can, potentially, have a bigger effect in the future. I suggest we adjust accordingly and not suffer the consequences in the future.
This update primarily affects publishers and webmasters, but we, as SEOs, still need to take note of this change. One of the core values that SEOs must have is experimentation and the ability to adapt to the constantly changing algorithm. So, if we can’t even adapt to this minor change, we’ll have difficulty adapting to the bigger changes.