This article was updated Oct. 27. As Google review rich results start to reappear for some businesses, including healthcare, we are adding responses to FAQs about these updates.
What are Google review rich results?
A review rich result (formerly called a rich snippet) is a short excerpt from a review website on Google search results, usually averaging the combined rating from many reviewers. When Google finds reviews or ratings markup on your webpages, it might show rich results including star ratings and other review summary text.
Review rich results may appear as stars and numerical ratings in rich results or Google Knowledge Panels. You can add markup to your site for nine content categories, but the most important are “Local Business” and “Organization.” Here is an example:
Keep in mind that updates to rich results do not affect your Google My Business listings – just organic search results. And it may take time for the search engine to trust that your page’s reviews are valid.
Where are my company’s rich results on Google search?
Google is constantly monitoring your site’s eligibility for displaying rich results.
You won’t be notified about Google review rich results appearing on search results, and they are not guaranteed, but you can monitor them. Use this tool to see if your pages support rich results.
Pages using LocalBusiness or any other type of Organization structured data are ineligible for star review feature if the reviews are “self-serving” – meaning you control them manually. Ratings must be sourced directly from users and not from other sites.
After Google has indexed your pages, look for issues using the relevant rich result status report.
How do I get review results back on my business listings?
There’s no magic bullet for these features to appear – they are up to Google’s discretion. But here are a few ways to troubleshoot your rich results:
Google recommends that the reviews and ratings you mark up are readily available to users from the marked-up page. It should be immediately obvious that the page has review content.
To keep Google informed of future changes, we recommend that your listings management vendor submits a sitemap. Some platforms can automate this with the Search Console Sitemap API.
From September 2019:
How have review rich results changed?
In fall 2019, Google updated its organic search algorithm to significantly limit the schema types that will trigger review rich results in a search.
While goods like movies and books will still show star ratings alongside their Google Reviews, any first-party ratings for businesses and organizations will likely be removed. This is because Google believes there are too many “self-serving” first-party reviews created by businesses to artificially boost their own ratings.
The Google Webmaster further explains, “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.”
Although first-party reviews will not be displayed on a company’s organic SERP, third-party review sites like Healthgrades or Apartments.com will continue to be allowed to display star ratings for that business.
What does this mean for my search strategy?
Although businesses and organizations must recognize Google review rich snippet changes and make adjustments, the algorithm updates are not expected to drastically impact your overall search strategy.
Listings and reputation management experts from Binary Fountain have identified a few areas of concern as rich snippets evolve:
Search Visibility – First-party reviews often represent a low-effort way to provide a constant flow of fresh, localized content for each specific business listing. Removing these ratings could diminish this benefit.
Click-Thru Rates (CTR) – The biggest advantage of review rich snippets is the impact on CTR from SERPs. Without the star ratings from rich snippets, companies may see a decline in click-thrus and will have to find other drivers to meet their goals.
Conversion Rates – On-page review content has been shown to increase conversion rates due to increased trust. The absence of the review snippet may negatively impact how a business builds trust online.
What else impacts my Google search results?
1. Content is (Still) King
Content, especially when localized with landmarks and attractions frequently mentioned in reviews, can quickly improve a company’s ranking in organic search results. This benefit remains regardless of Google’s changes to rich snippets.
2. Visibility of Rich Results Doesn’t Change Rankings
Though SERP information about a company may change, that ultimately does not affect where a company is ranking on Google. Businesses must still dedicate time and effort to SEO and high-ranking content to improve search visibility. Likewise, even though first-party ratings may not display, the content helps SEO overall.
3. Conversions are Influenced by Many Review Factors
Businesses are already benefiting from higher conversion rates from customers that see and interact with reviews hosted on third-party widgets. But regardless of whether a review is from a first-party host or third-party host, if the content of the reviews is primarily negative, the conversion rate will still decrease. Ideally, brands will respond to all negative reviews on all platforms to demonstrate their concern for the customer experience and their willingness to improve based on feedback.
Don’t be afraid of Google review rich snippets
While people are often quick to panic once Google announces a sweeping change to their policies, there is no need for alarm with the implementation new updates. Many of the things that companies are already doing, like investing in listings solutions and optimizing content for the web, are things that will continue to work and avoid any pitfalls.
Binary Fountain is committed to monitoring Google updates as they arise to ensure they don’t negatively impact our customers, and we will provide service and support if anything changes for our clients.
Want to learn more about how Binary Fountain can give your online reputation a boost?
Learn more about optimizing SEO and Google My Business:
- Tracking Coronavirus Search Trends on Google – October 2020
- How to Add Health and Safety Attributes to Your Google My Business Listing
- New Google My Business Profile Editing Capabilities and Hours Options Available
- E-book: Building a Healthier Online Reputation
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