Google announces change to review schema
Earlier this week Google announced a change to the way they display review ratings in search results, with the intention of making them ‘more helpful and meaningful’ and prevent people from displaying ‘“self-serving” reviews that aren’t in the best interest of users’. You can read more from Google in their blog post announcing the change.
To summarise, this means that review stars will no longer appear in search results for your own website’s listings, except in a few specialist cases exempt from the change. These are listed in Google’s blog post but include specialist mark-ups, such as books and recipes.
So what does this mean for Local SEO for the rest of us?
The value of reviews in Local SEO and customer confidence hasn’t changed, and businesses should still be making reviews on independent, third-party websites an essential part of their SEO strategy. BrightLocal estimate that 92% of consumers read online reviews and that 44% believe reviews need to have been written in the last month to be relevant – so you still need to keep getting those Google reviews regularly from your customers.
However, what will change is where these reviews can be seen in search engine results.
Below is a screenshot for one of AlphaQuad’s clients, Field House Care Home from a few months ago when we implemented schema mark-up to display reviews taken from the Carehome.co.uk widget on their website:
As you can see at the time review stars appeared on the results for Carehome.co.uk, Indeed, their own website and in the Google My Business panel.
Fast forward to today, and they are no longer appearing in the result for Field House’s own website (now in position 1) but are still present for the Carehome results and in the Google My Business listing:
Reviews are a key part of the Google My Business listing and so ensuring you have plenty of them, and preferably good ones will still support your Local SEO efforts. If you need any support managing the Local SEO of your website or want us to take a free, no-obligation look at the health of your site then request your free Local SEO report here.