Learn How to Maximise the SEO Benefit of Reviews

Chee Lo
SEO Specialist

Rich Snippets, product reviews, service reviews, aggregate ratings, schema.org, JSON-LD, structured data, microdata, Google, SERPs, click-through rate, SEO...

Welcome to the world of reviews.

Whether you are a business owner, marketing director, SEO manager, or in any other related role, you’ve probably come across these terms from time to time.

This blog post helps you understand Rich Snippets stars and ensure best practices are adopted for your site(s). We’ll look at Rich Snippet Stars for organic search, not the Google Seller Rating stars associated with Google AdWords.

SEO doesn’t need to be complex. Yes, good SEO takes effort - and websites who make the effort are likely to benefit in the long run - but it’s best to keep SEO simple. The acid test and main question to ask yourself is this: “Is this feature useful for my users?”

First up, what are Rich Snippets?

Rich Snippets is the markup of your content with ‘structured data’ that allows search engines to better understand and index this information. This markup allows us to make our websites stand out in both Google and Bing’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and, more importantly, can increase click-through rate.

The screenshot above is for a particular product from IslandSurf.com. The yellow stars, the rating and number of reviews show useful feedback information to the person searching. Before I click on the link, I already know upfront the product has a decent rating, albeit from two reviews. It still shows me the quality I can expect from the product.

How do I get the Rich Snippet Stars?

To set up for Rich Snippets, all you need to do is simply mark-up the web page with AggregateRating. For merchants, you would normally mark-up AggregateRating on an individual product or services page. Other pages where you could mark-up would include your dedicated customer reviews page, or an About Us page, if it is relevant. The data should automatically update as and when new reviews are added.

NOTE: Rich Snippets and the benefits gained from them are entirely down to Google’s discretion. Even when you have satisfied all of their guidelines, it is still Google who decides whether they display Rich Snippets in SERPs.

Rich Snippets for product reviews

If your business sells products, you can mark-up the individual product pages with reviews and AggregateRating to get Rich Snippets as shown by the example below. If you sell services, like haircuts or massages, it’s also possible to collect product reviews for the individual services.

Rich snippets for your service reviews by marking up your TrustScore

Thanks to some recent developments in Google’s guidelines, it is now possible to mark-up your TrustScore so you have Rich Snippets on your site. Do note that the TrustScore is a measure of your customer satisfaction based on reviews collected at Trustpilot. This score encompasses reviews for the whole brand which may include service and product reviews. For this reason, marking-up individual products or services with your TrustScore could be seen as misleading and should therefore always be avoided.

In addition, Google doesn’t want to see the same markup on all pages of your site, which looks spammy. If offenders are caught breaching their guidelines, whether by their own sophisticated algorithms or manual action, they will remove the offending snippets. Getting legitimate snippets recognized in the future could be a challenge if Google has previously dealt with a breach of guidelines on a given website.

We’d recommend that you mark-up your TrustScore on selected pages of your site. This includes the dedicated customer reviews page, or your About Us page. The latter two pages are where customers and search engines can see the trustworthiness of your business. Trustpilot will soon release a new TrustBox that marks up your TrustScore. We recommend you use these new TrustBoxes as we ensure it is always up to date with Google’s guidelines.


Things to avoid

  • Avoid Rich Snippet spam at all costs (against Google guidelines)
  • Avoid misleading your users (ensure your users have the best landing page experience)
  • Avoid marking up category/list pages with Rich Snippets stars (against Google guidelines)

Common Rich Snippet infringements we see on our travels

We often see sites that have implemented Rich Snippets incorrectly. Below are some common mistakes:

We often see service reviews AggregateRating marked up as product reviews.

These service reviews include both product and service reviews, so to mark-up these reviews with product markup is misleading.

Marking-up the same AggregateRating throughout all pages of your site.

  • i.e. marking-up your TrustScore on every single page of your website is frowned upon. This looks spammy, and doesn’t provide a good experience for your users.
  • Google is clamping down on site-wide footer statements that read along the lines of “XXX is rated XX out of XX”

Adding Product Review markup to category pages. Product markup should be implemented on individual product pages.

Often we come across category pages of websites markedup with AggregateRating, and for a period of time they get the Rich Snippets. In the short term, these sites may experience an increase in CTR, however when Google discovers this they will remove the Rich Snippets.

It is also worth noting Google’s algorithms for detecting Rich Snippet abuse are not 100%. This could be that some industries are not yet under the radar. You may see competitors benefitting from Rich Snippets in the short term. However, do not worry. When Google discovers them they will face a hard time getting Rich Snippets legitimately in the future.

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