A big shock to many Local Businesses and Organizations around the world has just been announced on September 16 2019 by Google and Google’s very own John Muller regarding the death of their beloved star ratings, aka review snippets in organic Google search results!
Here is an excerpt from Google’s official blog post
“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.”
Here is an illustration of what this means
This is huge news to Local Businesses and Organizations around the globe especially those who have multiple locations!
Anyone offering products is still safe (question is, for how much longer, and why?!)
Google says that their intention is to reduce what it calls “invalid or misleading implementations” of review schema markup.
If you have been collecting website reviews that you marked up with an intention to have Google review snippets next to your organic Google listing, you already know that the biggest benefit is the glorious star ratings next to your organic Google listing as you can see in the illustration above. However, with the new update announced by Google, this cherished star rating is about to vanish.
Does this mean that you should stop collecting website reviews? Absolutely not! This is not dooms day for website reviews, it’s only dooms day for the Rich Review Ratings on your organic Google listings for all pages marked up with rich snippet schema as LocalBusiness or Organization.
What About Reviews Embedded with Third-Party Widgets?
Some of you who have invested in building your website reviews with third-party review widget service providers like TrustPilot, BirdEye, Yotpo, BrightLocal, GatherUp, NiceReply, Reviews On My Website, Get Five Stars, op.io, and the like, may think that you are safe, but think again.
John Muller confirmed yesterday that regardless of whether your Local Business or Organization reviews are being embedded from these types of review sites, the star rating in your organic Google listings will be removed because Google considers these reviews as self-serving reviews.
You can see John’s Post Below. Or check it out in this Tweet where Optimisey, thought he had it all figured out
Let that sink in a bit. here it is again in block quotes
“Regardless of how the reviews are embedded on your site (widget or not), if it’s for your own LocalBusiness/Organization, they would be considered self-serving and not be shown.“
This is a huge hit to online reputation management service providers like Trust Pilot and Birdeye, whose major selling point was the Glorious star ratings that their clients’ received next to their organic Google listing by using these third-party website review widgets on their sites.
The online community is still confused, upset, and some even furious, but John Muller stands his ground as he states:
“If you pick reviews (for your Organization) to show on your own site, then we wouldn’t show those in search.”
“You’re welcome to show them to users; they’re just not shown in search (reviews for your organization, hosted on your own site).”
You can read more about this on Google’s Blog Post here – Making Review Rich Results more helpful
My question for Google is how is it fair that Local Businesses and Organizations are getting their LocalBusiness review snippets taken away and self-serving product reviews are still allowed? It seems that Google is discriminating against service-based local businesses and organizations…
Here is an excerpt from the above mentioned Google blog post which parttially answers my question
“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):
I asked John Muller on Twitter what makes self-serving Local Business or Organization reviews any different than self-serving Product reviews which still allow rich review snippets? Still waiting on his reply!
However, it’s not all bad news. We can still see that this change has not been rolled out yet, or at least, it has not affected any of our clients. Let’s hope Google is out and about enjoying their last days of summer!
So there you have it, folks, hopefully, that cleared up any doubts.
We will keep you posted with any updates.
If you have any questions or updates do let us know in the comments below and hit the heart button to show us some love <3