Local businesses have been able to use reviews to boost their local search results for quite some time now but this is all about to change after Google’s recent announcement about their updated rules.
Earlier this month, Google announced that they will no longer be displaying any star ratings as part of their rich search results because self-serving reviews don’t benefit users. This is exactly what Google had to say:
Basically, Google just wants to make sure that review schema markup is not being used in an invalid or misleading way. Review Rich Results should be helpful and meaningful , which is why they’ve decided to reserve them for very specific schema types.
Rollout of Schema Changes
This change has only just been announced but this doesn’t mean that Google will necessarily hold off on rolling it out for too much longer.
So, what does this mean for businesses? Should you remove reviews from your website?
The answer is no. Reviews are still a great form of social proof and they help potential customers trust you more. Google is not taking action against business reviews, the changes simply mean that the average star rating that once appeared next to your links in search results could disappear.
It has also been confirmed that even if you are using a third-party widget to pull reviews through to your site, they won’t be included because they will be deemed self-serving. The reviews will still show up on third party sites such as Trustpilot and TripAdvisor but the reviews won’t be linked directly to your site anymore.
Overall, LocalBusiness and Organization schema types will now be ignored by Google.
How the Schema Change Affects Rankings
At this stage, there is no solid information that indicates Google will be penalizing websites because of this change – it’s basically just ensuring star ratings are no longer being displayed next to local business URLs.
There hasn’t yet been any official feedback about whether product reviews will also be scrapped but there’s a good chance that they will or it would be a contradiction of what they’re trying to achieve.
It seems that this is probably going to be an ongoing update, so for now, businesses are encouraged to prepare for the fact that the reviews on their site will no longer be displayed in Google’s Search Results.