Since Google’s August 2016 update for Local Business Reviews schema, it seems that there is a lot of confusion going around on various forums, message boards and authority sites like Search Engine Land and 5 Star Reviews about this major update that is effecting Local Businesses worldwide. Many local businesses have lost their precious little star rating next to their organic local business Google listing and are scrambling to figure out what happened and what all the fuss is about regarding Google’s review snippets and Critic Reviews.
a picture speaks a thousand words, the best way to clear this up is with a good old photo.
What is a Google Review Snippet?
Below you can see an example of what a Google Review Snippet looks like for a local business. More specifically, the review snippet is the star rating portion of the Google listing.
Check out the image below to see how effective having a five star Google review snippet next to your organic Google listing can be. Even if you are not on the 1st position in Google organic, having the star rating gives you a huge advantage, or a disadvantage if you have bad ratings!
If you want to learn everything your need to know as a Local Business looking to get a Google Review Snippet on your organic Google listing then read this in-depth article on How to Get Star Ratings on your Local Business Google Listing – Review Snippets
What is a Google Critic Review?
Below you can see an example of what Google Critic Reviews look like for a local business. Notice the 4 review excerpts where the big red arrow points – those are critic reviews, and you can click on each to go to the critic’s website to read the full review.
If you want to learn everything your need to know as a Local Business looking to get Google Critic Reviews for your Google listing or if you want to be a critic for a local business, then read this in-depth article on Critic Reviews for Local Business Google Listings.
By reading the two articles above you should have a crystal clear image of the major differences between Google Rich Review Snippets and Critic Reviews as well as how to implement each to benefit your local business.
What’s the Confusion Between Google’s Review Snippet and Critic Review Guidelines?
Although there are major differences between Google’s rich review snippets and critic review snippets, not only in how they are displayed on Google but also in the guidelines Google provides to enable a small business to use them, many people are still confused about these guidelines and differences. We believe that much of the confusion comes from Search Engine Land’s article – Google updates local reviews schema guidelines as well as the very similar article from Get Five Stars – Updated Google Schema Review Guidelines Small Business.
The reason for the confusion seems to be because both of the above articles (which provide almost identical information) grouped the August 2016 updated Google guidelines for Local Business Review Snippets and Critic Reviews together, and they also didn’t provide an exhaustive list of all the guidelines, as you can see in the images below. So they are essentially providing incorrect information because Google’s guidelines are different for Review Snippets and Critic Reviews, meaning that they cannot be grouped together.
For Example – The first guideline provided by Search Engine Land and Get Five Stars – “Snippets must not be written or provided by the business or content provider unless they are genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.” only applies to Critic Reviews and not Review Snippets. Nowhere does Google specify that Review Snippets have to be editorial reviews, this only applies to Critic Reviews.
As a matter of fact Search Engine Land states that the list of provided Google guidelines explains “when you can use the schema markup on the reviews and when you cannot.” Get Five Stars claims that the list includes “the new Google rich snippet review guidelines“. However, both of them only provide a portion of the complete guidelines for Critic Reviews and exclude the guidelines for Review Snippets, even though their articles talk about both Review Snippets and Critic Reviews, so this is where a lot of the confusion and misinformation comes from.
So What’s the Difference Between Review Snippets and Critic Review Guidelines?
To clear up all the confusion, we have composed a complete list of Google’s guidelines for Review Snippets and for Critic Review separately, so that you can completely understand what is allowed and what isn’t for these two very different rich snippets.
You can see the original Google guidelines for critic reviews and review snippets at the following urls:
- Google’s General Structured Data Guidelines
- Google’s Review Snippet Guidelines
- Google’s Critic Reviews Guidelines