Google Announces Changes to Local Business Review Display

Local Business Reviews

Local Business Reviews

In the past, businesses have been able to add reviews about themselves from various sources to their home page in such a way that the review would show as a snippet for the webpage. While you can still add glowing customer reviews to your website, Google has announced that they’ll now be ignoring them when it comes to Google searches.

The change is part of Google’s quest to make review rich results more helpful to their users. New updates to algorithms will no longer show the star ratings from the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization where the review subject and the website hosting the review are the same. This change is designed to ignore “self-serving” reviews to help reduce invalid or misleading information for users.

Moving forward, only specific schema types and sub-types will show review rich results. For those of you unfamiliar with the term schema, it’s essentially a way to help search engines understand your website better. With proper schema markup search engines can provide more user-friendly results during searches. Up until this change, these results often included star ratings and occasionally review snippets.

If you’re rushing off to Google your company name you may still see the review snippets and stars as of right now. Google’s announcement made no mention of when the changes would go into effect.

What do the Changes Mean for My Company?

Regardless of what Google’s choosing to show in their search results, there’s no need to panic and remove all reviews from your website. The only thing that’s happening here is that Google will ignore any schema markup attached to reviews about your business on your business’s website.

Reviews are still a good thing.

Keep collecting and displaying those reviews. The social proof will still help your business, it just might not show on the Google search results. While, at first glance, this may seem like a huge disservice, it’s really not. Since Google is rolling out this change for every local business it more or less removes the competitive advantage.

Can I Use Third-Party Reviews Widgets to Display My Star Rating?

Google says “no.” Even if the reviews themselves live on a different trusted domain such as TripAdvisor or Trustpilot, Google says the information will still be ignored. Google’s John Mueller explains:

“Regardless of where the reviews live and where the widgets are from, if the entity being reviewed is the same entity that the website is about, review schema markup for LocalBusiness and Organization will be ignored.”

Will These Changes Affect My Ranking?

We believe that utilizing the LocalBusiness and Organization review schema markup won’t negatively impact your rating or result in penalties. The only change you should notice is that the star rating will no longer show on your search results.

This change only applies to organic search. Therefore, Google My Business is not affected. Similarly, websites that gather reviews about other organizations will not be affected.

Per Google, they’ll be rolling out the change slowly. This means that it may be some time before you notice your stars vanish. It also means that your stars could disappear before your competitor’s. If you’re seeing review stars where they shouldn’t be, Google has informed us that they’re considering a special reporting option to flag self-serving reviews.

Improving Your Organic Search Reach

If you’re struggling with your placement within Google search results, reach out to the experts at Portside Marketing. We know the ins and outs of Search Engine Optimization and our team is standing by to help you.

Call Portside Marketing today at (972) 979-9316 for more information on how these review changes affect you and how you can improve your search ranking.