Google Updates Schema Review Rules for Local Businesses

Google Local Review Schema Rich Snippet

Late last August, Google updated its rules for Local Business’s use of review rich snippets. Parallel to its release of the critic review snippet extension, Google’s new rules for review rich snippets are significantly different than those that were previously in place.

New Review Rich Snippets Rules for Local Businesses

The new rule for Schema review rich snippets helps to ensure the legitimacy of reviews (tightening-up control over potentially fake reviews.)

 

Below are the new rich snippet review guidelines as outlined at by Google.

  • Snippets must not be written or provided by the business or content provider unless they are genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.
  • Reviews must allow for customers to express both positive and negative sentiments. They may not be vetted by the business or restricted by the content provider based on the positive/negative sentiment of the review before submission to Google.
  • Reviews cannot be template sentences built from data or automated metrics. For example, the following is not acceptable: “Based on X number of responses, on average people experienced X with this business.”
  • 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. In other words, reviews for multiple-location businesses cannot be syndicated or applied to all business locations of the same company.
  • Aggregators or content providers must have no commercial agreements paid or otherwise with businesses to provide reviews.
  • Do not include reviews that are duplicate or similar reviews across many businesses or from different sources.
  • Only include reviews that have been directly produced by your site, not reviews from third- party sites or syndicated reviews.

Significant Changes in Review Rich Snippets

The new rules indicate several big changes, however one that has a big impact is the restriction against marking up reviews from third party sites. In other words, you can no longer mark up reviews from Google My Business or Yelp pages. While it’s unclear as to how Google can or will enforce this new rule, it does have a long track record for introducing a new rule and then enforcing the rule 3-4 months later.

There is also a new rule that making it required to allow customers to post both positive and negative reviews. Many professionals in the search marketing community have long supported this option.

In short, the new rules for Local Businesses using review rich snippets is step in the right direction. By tightening-up the legitimacy of reviews, and allowing for range of reviews, can help establish greater trust in the search engines.