Structured data is a coding format used by search engines like Google to understand and display information more effectively. It helps improve the visibility and presentation of content in search results. Recently, Google made changes to its review structured data requirements, impacting how reviews are displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs). Let’s explore these changes and their implications.
Review Rich Results: Review rich results are the enhanced search results that display star ratings and review snippets. These rich results provide users with valuable insights about products, services, and businesses directly on the SERPs. The changes made by Google aim to ensure the accuracy and trustworthiness of review information displayed in these rich results.
Criticism of Self-serving Reviews: One significant change is the criticism of self-serving reviews, where a website includes reviews about itself or its own products. To maintain fairness and prevent manipulation, Google has updated its guidelines to discourage websites from including self-serving reviews in their structured data markup.
Eligibility for Review Snippets: Google has also revised the eligibility criteria for review snippets. Websites must now demonstrate impartiality by collecting reviews from multiple sources and displaying a balanced view of user feedback. This change emphasizes the importance of providing unbiased and comprehensive reviews to users.
No Incentivized Reviews: Another important update is the prohibition of incentivized reviews in structured data markup. This means that websites cannot offer incentives, such as discounts or gifts, in exchange for positive reviews. Google aims to promote genuine and authentic reviews that reflect users’ real experiences.
Accuracy and Trustworthiness: With these changes, Google emphasizes the importance of accuracy and trustworthiness in review structured data. Websites must ensure that the reviews they display are genuine, relevant, and representative of users’ opinions. False or misleading reviews can have a negative impact on user trust and may lead to penalties from Google.
Monitoring and Compliance: Website owners and developers should regularly monitor and ensure compliance with these updated guidelines. It’s crucial to review and update structured data markup to align with Google’s requirements. Failing to adhere to these guidelines may result in the loss of rich results, lower visibility, or other penalties.
User Experience and Credibility: The changes to review structured data requirements ultimately benefit users by providing more reliable and trustworthy information. Users can make informed decisions based on genuine feedback from multiple sources. For businesses and websites, maintaining credibility and providing high-quality user experiences become essential for attracting and retaining customers.
It’s important to note that these changes only affect the usage of review structured data markup. Websites can still display reviews on their pages; however, the inclusion of such reviews in rich results may be subject to stricter guidelines.
In conclusion, Google’s changes to review structured data requirements aim to ensure the accuracy, trustworthiness, and fairness of reviews displayed in search results. Prohibiting self-serving reviews, incentivized reviews, and emphasizing impartiality are steps towards enhancing the credibility and user experience of review-rich results. Website owners and developers should review and comply with these updated guidelines to maintain visibility and provide valuable information to users.