Google announced on Monday (September 16th, 2019) a change to how they generate review rich results – the search results that include star ratings based on reviews, and look like this:
They’re more visually appealing, stand out on the page more and, as a result, they tend to drive a higher click-through rate, so it’s something that we as SEOs often focus on. Google uses structured data to understand things like what is being reviewed, what the review score is, and how many reviews the score is based on, and the star ratings in search results are granted based on what it finds.
But Google have announced that they’re going to be limiting the types (and sub-types) of things that can earn review rich results to:
And the larger change is around the LocalBusiness and Organization types (and sub-types of those):
“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. That’s why, with this change, we’re not going to display review rich results anymore for the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (and their subtypes) in cases when the entity being reviewed controls the reviews themselves.”
For clarity – products (and your own products) are fine – so in this example of a Dyson V11, the review ratings would stay:
There’s quite a lot of discussion on Twitter about this, and the self-serving reviews change in particular is causing some confusion, but our understanding is this:
If you’re marking up reviews on your site using LocalBusiness or Organization schema (or a sub-set of those types), and those reviews are about your local business/organization, then Google will see that as a self-serving review and won’t show star ratings. It doesn’t matter if you’re integrating reviews yourself or if you’re using an embedded widget from someone like Trustpilot or Feefo.
Slightly confusingly though, pages on Trustpilot.com or Feefo.com that are about your local business listing should still be allowed to have star ratings in search results – however, your site won’t be eligible if those same reviews are embedded on your site.
It’s worth reading the full details of this change in Google’s announcement here – and we’ll update this post when we know more.