Making Review Rich Results more helpful

Monday, September 16, 2019

Search results that are enhanced by review rich results can be extremely helpful when searching for products or services (the scores and/or "stars" you sometimes see alongside search results).

Review stars example in search results

To make them more helpful and meaningful, we are now introducing algorithmic updates to reviews in rich results. This also addresses some of the invalid or misleading implementations webmasters have flagged to us.

Focus on schema types that lend themselves to reviews

While, technically, you can attach review markup to any schema type, for many types displaying star reviews does not add much value for the user. With this change, we’re limiting the pool of schema types that can potentially trigger review rich results in search. Specifically, we’ll only display reviews with those types (and their respective subtypes):

Self-serving reviews aren't allowed for LocalBusiness and Organization

Reviews that can be perceived as "self-serving" aren't in the best interest of users. We call reviews "self-serving" when a review about entity A is placed on the website of entity A - either directly in their markup or via an embedded 3rd party widget. That’s why, with this change, we’re not going to display review rich results anymore for the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (and their subtypes) in cases when the entity being reviewed controls the reviews themselves.

Updated on September 18, 2019:

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.

We consider this "self-serving" because the entity itself has chosen to add the markup to its own pages, about its own business or organization.

Self-serving reviews are no longer displayed for businesses and organizations (the LocalBusiness and Organization schema types). For example, we will no longer display rich review snippets for how people have reviewed a business, if those reviews are considered self-serving.

Reviews are allowed and displayed for other schema types listed in the documentation. For example, a cooking site might use markup for recipes to summarize its visitor reviews. In turn, we might include this rich review markup for when those recipes appear in search.

FAQ

What if I'm using a third-party widget to display reviews about my business?

Google Search won't display review snippets for those pages. Embedding a third-party widget is seen as controlling the process of linking reviews.

Do I need to remove self-serving reviews from LocalBusiness or Organization?

No, you don't need to remove them. Google Search just won't display review snippets for those pages anymore.

Will I get a manual action for having self-serving reviews on my site?

You won’t get a manual action just for this. However, we recommend making sure that your structured data matches our guidelines.

Does this update affect my Google My Business listing/profile?

No, Google My Business is not affected as this update only relates to organic Search.

Will sites that gather reviews about other organizations be affected?

No, that’s unchanged. Sites that gather reviews can show up with review snippets (for their reviews of other organizations) in search results.

Does this update apply to AggregateRating too?

Yes. It applies to Review and AggregateRating.

How do I report if a self-serving review is still appearing in search results?

We’re considering creating a special form for this, if needed. We're slowly rolling out this change, so you may still see some cases of review stars where they shouldn't be.

Add the name of the item that's being reviewed

With this update, the name property is now required, so you'll want to make sure that you specify the name of the item that's being reviewed.

This update will help deliver a much more meaningful review experience for users, while requiring little to no changes on the part of most webmasters. You can find all those updates documented in our developer documentation. If you have any questions, feel free to come to our webmaster forums!