On 5 August 2016 Google launched Critic Reviews for Local Businesses, which was previously only available for movies and books.
So what is a Critic Review?
According to Google a Critic Review is
“A snippet from a longer review article that a single editor has created, curated, or compiled for a publisher.”
You can see an example of Critic Reviews in the image below. We tried finding an example of a local business in Canada, but since this Critic Review feature was just launched on August 5th 2016, we couldn’t find any Canadian businesses benefitting from the just yet, but we will update you as soon as we find one.
As you can see, the Critic Reviews section in the image above shows an excerpt of the full review as well as the publishers name and the icon of the publisher website. Users can click to read the full review, which will take them to the publishers website.
What do the Critic Reviews mean for local businesses in Canada?
As of August 5th 2016, a local business can get reviews in the spotlight section of their Listing from reputable critics, and to your surprise, and ours, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Homestars were not given a head start and did not appear here at the time of writing this article.
Currently, as of October 4th, only the following 5 publisher websites seem to be shown in the Critic Reviews section for Local Businesses in the states.
– Zagat (Google’s own)
– Travel & Leisure
If you never heard of any of these names you shouldn’t feel too bad, because you are not alone! For Canadian businesses these critic websites may not provide much value as getting reviews on them is still very limited to the United States, and we do not see any local Canadian businesses benefiting from these Critic Reviews just yet!
Who can become a Review Critic?
The good news is that anyone can apply to become a Critic, as long as they follow Google’s Critic review guidelines. Which are outlined below and quoted directly from Google.
The following are Google’s Local Business Guidelines:
- “Snippets must not be written or provided by the business or content provider unless they are genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.
- Critic reviews must allow for customers to express both positive and negative sentiments.
- Critic reviews cannot be template sentences built from data or automated metrics.
- Critic reviews for multiple-location businesses such as retail chains or franchises can only be submitted for the specific business location for which they were written.
- There can’t be any commercial agreements (paid or otherwise) to provide critic reviews between the content provider and the reviewed business.
- Do not include critic reviews that are duplicate or similar across many businesses.
- Only include critic reviews that have been directly produced by your site, not reviews from third- party sites or syndicated reviews.”
You also must make sure to follow Google’s General Guidelines for Critic Reviews which include the following:
- “Authoritative human editor(s) must create, curate, or compile content for critic reviews
- Refer clearly to a specific product or service.
- Make sure the reviews and ratings you mark up are readily available to users.
- Provide review and/or rating information about a specific item, not about a category or a list of items.
- No reviews are shown for adult-related products or services.
- Single reviewer name needs to be valid.
- Ratings that don’t use a 5-point scale need to be marked up properly as Google, by default, assumes that your site uses a 5-point scale.”
Finally, the last step is to Register your interest with Google. https://services.google.com/fb/forms/critic-reviews/
Before registering make sure that you implemented the markup, detailed above, on your live site, and make sure it validates using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Also, the markup has to render without requiring users to log in.
See image below.
Make sure you select “Critic Reviews” under “Which feature you are interested in” dropdown, and make sure to select “Local Business” under “Review types” dropdown.
Once you submit this form, your are set and on the road to becoming a Google Review Critic!
It is worth mentioning that Google’s Review Critic feature allows any publisher to apply for inclusion given that they followed the steps detailed above and provided proper markup. Google is simply asking publishers (whoever they may be) to properly markup the review content about the Local Business that they are providing a review about.
Click here to learn How to Get Star Rating Review Snippets on Your Local Business Google Listing. We also suggest you read our article about the Differences Between Google Review Snippets and Critic Reviews.