When people need answers, a quick Google search makes life fast and easy. Today, we rarely need to click on a search result to find the answers we’re looking for. Instead, Google often provides snippets to reveal the answer for us.
In fact, a little less than half of all websites use schema markup or structured data. This rate continues to increase as more companies learn about how to use Google rich snippets. Companies can even display reviews on their websites using schemas for Google reviews.
However, that’s about to change.
Google recently announced an algorithm update that’s changing the game.
So what’s changing with rich snippets for Google reviews, and why should you care? Keep reading to find out more!
The Google reviews star rating, or Review Rich Result, is the star rating that appears alongside organic results on Google search pages.
Before, companies could display organization-level rating markups across an entire website. However, these reviews didn’t always match the content displayed on the page.
To respond to these inaccuracies, Google used structured data penalties. However, enforcing such rules on a mass scale proved too difficult. Instead, Google is using this update to maintain a stricter ruling.
The Google reviews snippet update now allows Google to determine when they will or won’t respect ratings structured data.
As a result, the Schema.org property used to trigger these search results is changing as well.
For example, you’re no longer allowed to use a rating widget to display reviews on your company website. These widgets include hardcoded and Trustpilot.
When Rich Results Reviews Display
Google’s announcement also revealed it’s limiting when rich results reviews will display. Any reviews outside of these will no longer appear as Google review snippets:
The list removes the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (along with their subtypes). Before, companies could add a review markup to any page on their website. However, Google considered this “self-serving” because the company added the markup to their own website.
Removing the LocalBusiness and Organization types means businesses and organizations can no longer display self-serving reviews.
Technically, companies can still attach a review markup to any schema type. However, many don’t provide value to the searcher when it doesn’t match the content.
Google’s change allows them to limit which schema types trigger for review rich results.
With this list, Google can provide content that’s in the best interest of the searcher.
The “name” Property
Google reviews for rich snippets also require the “name” property in featured snippets.
This property ensures websites will now specify the name of the item associated with the review displays.
If you’re using a plugin for your schema structured website data, check to make sure it’s already including the “name” property. However, if the “name” property isn’t included, check for an update to the plugin.
If the “name” property is missing from your structured data, contact the plugin creator.
Google didn’t indicate what would happen if websites failed to include the “name” property within the structured data. However, Google’s update did say the name property is now mandatory.
What’s Google’s Goal Here?
Google’s main goal is to improve the Google rich snippets functionality for searchers. This update creates limits that determine where and when rich results will appear. As a result, Google schema is now able to limit the inaccurate implementation and use of these reviews.
Previously, the use of Google reviews across company websites was sometimes considered misleading. When a rating displayed on a page didn’t match the content, the review didn’t accurately represent the product or service displayed on the page.
Structured data allows companies to speak directly with their potential customers.
By improving the Google reviews rich snippets, Google makes it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for. Improving user experience can help companies attract new customers. When information is easy to find, searchers are more likely to make a decision about their purchases.
What Should I Do?
Google only recently announced this update. However, we may start to see changes to the algorithm take effect as early as next week.
So how should you prepare?
First, take a look at the Google reviews star ratings on your site. If they’re localBusiness or Organization type schemas, there’s a possibility you’ll lose your star ratings. However, it’s not yet clear how the update will impact these reviews.
If the schema type does impact existing Google reviews, it’ll impact your competitors as well. This will give you a chance to make the necessary updates.
But if you’re up-to-date with your schema, you’re already good to go!
However, you may want to double-check if you’re using a plugin or platform. Make sure everything’s set to reflect Google’s update.
In the meantime, don’t remove Google reviews from your website. Reviews provide your website with social proof, which can help customers learn to trust your business. Reviews are still important; however, this update might change the star ratings that appear in your organic search engine result pages.
This update also shouldn’t change your Google search engine rankings or cause penalties. You may, however, notice the star rating won’t appear alongside your search results anymore.
In the meantime, we’re still waiting to hear more about how the algorithm update will change Product schemas.
5 Stars for Schemas: How Rich Snippets Are Changing Google Reviews
Overall, Google’s goal is to improve the user experience for searchers. The Google reviews rich snippets update will help Google ensure the review ratings display more accurately for the content they represent.
With the update expected to roll out soon, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest Google news.
Keep up with the latest updates by exploring the Search Engine Updates section of our blog!