Google’s official blog had a post titled, “Making Review Rich Results more helpful” on September 16th. In a nutshell, they said moving forward they would reduce the number of scheme types allowed to make sure self-serving reviews were not a part of the count.
The result is that ratings and reviews previously displayed for organizations, local businesses, and articles/blogs have disappeared from the SERPs.
Google’s motivation is to ensure that rating and reviews are an honest reflection of a user’s experience versus a reflection of the organization’s ability to impact the reviews themselves.
According to Google, “To explain more, in the past, an entity like a business or an organization could add review markup about themselves to their home page or another page and often cause a review snippet to show for that page. That markup could have been added directly by the entity or embedded through the use of a third-party widget.
We consider this “self-serving” because the entity itself has chosen to add the markup to its own pages, about its own business or organization.
Self-serving reviews are no longer displayed for businesses and organizations (the LocalBusiness and Organization schema types).“
What is Schema? According to Schema.org “Schema is a semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs.”
Here is a sample of the code for a book:
What Should You Do?
- Continue to use schema markup (aka structured data) to ensure that search engines explicitly understand your content so that you can be found in organic and voice search
- Continue to display ratings and reviews on your website, and include the “name” property for “ItemReviewed”
- Continue to gather reviews using a 3rd party site (e.g. Google My Business, Yelp, etc…) so you get their rich result for your company for that site’s URL in SERP.
- Pay attention to the now-supported schema types