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Did you have reviews show up on Google for most of your pages or specific pages? Did you lose those reviews? Google made an algorithm update that has impacted reviews showing up in the SERP.
Mid-September 2019, Google published an announcement on their webmaster blog entitled “Making Review Rich Results more helpful”. Additionally, Google stated that they were taking down “self-serving reviews”. In a September 18. 2019 update post, they clarified what is meant by “self-serving”: “To explain more, 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.”
In the announcement, Google changed the types of reviews that will trigger review rich snippets in the search results.
Review Types Impacted
What this means is that having reviews that talk about the business will no longer be enough to show review snippets in the SERP. As a result of these changes, results that once showed review markup for almost every result are now gone. We also noticed that some reviews markup stayed up past the update. For example, most of the sites that rank in the top 5 positions “Houston car accident lawyer” have their markup intact.
What happened here? Why is it that these sites maintained their reviews while others lost theirs?
The answer lies in relevancy.
Take the first result above (https://attorneyguss.com/services/car-accident-attorney-houston/). The review schema they are using contains information relevant to car accidents. Below is the review markup as shown in Google’s Schema Testing Tool:
The review mentions terms like “insurance company” and “medical bills”, which are terms mentioned in the body content of the page. Having this shared relevancy makes the review look unique to the page. By having different reviews that are contextual to the case type, they can be trusted more. This appears to be one of the main differentiators between sites that lost their markup and those that did not.
How to Fix Missing Google Reviews
So what does this mean for you?
If you have recently lost your review schema markup, the first thing to do is to look at your implementation of reviews on the affected page.
Ask yourself the following:
- Is the marked-up review contain content relevant to the page or is the review about the company in general?
- Is there another review that would make more sense for that page?
- Are reviews being shown through a third-party widget or manually added to the page or template?
- Are the reviews the same on every page?
If you recently lost your reviews markup and want them to show up, it is important that they are unique to the page they reside on and are relevant to that page’s content. As Google stated in the announcement: “Search results that are enhanced by review rich results can be extremely helpful when searching for products or services…” So to have markup that works, that markup must be about the product or service that the page is about.
Fixed Rich Result Example after a Few Months
Below is an example site that had their star ratings removed from the September 2019 Google update. We then reviewed how they were using the reviews, updated the schema markup, and now the reviews are back in Google’s Search Engine Result Pages.