Google’s Rich Snippets For Local FAQ Update

Google at some point over the past four months has changed the Rich Snippets for Local FAQ. These changes to their Help Files are not transparent in the least (boo to Google!).

Google provides no RSS feeds, no history of changes and no date that a given change was published. For a company that proclaims openness and transparency, intentional obscurity of changes to their help files is a curious thing. Clearly, it would seem to be in every one’s best interest if Google’s current policy and best practices were easily tracked. One has to assume that the decision to not include these standard features are an intentional act to obfuscate these changes.

That being said here are some interesting points in the now current Rich Snippets for Local FAQ

Does it matter whether I include multiple telephone types?

You should only provide the phone number for the location of the actual local business. Types of phone numbers that should not be included are: call tracking numbers and phone numbers that are not specific to a business location.

Should the <url> point to my home page or to the location specific page?

The <url> should point to the home page of the business. However, the attribution will link to the source of the crawled information.

Do I need to specify the <geo> lat long or is it okay to only use <adr>?

If you have precise coordinates, please include them. This will help Google display results accurately. If you do not have precise coordinates, then <adr> alone is okay.

What additional types of structured data does Google plan to recognize in the future?

The goal is to eventually be able to recognize all structured data that appears on the Place Page.

If I annotate my site with structured markup, where may results appear?

Results may appear in Web Search, the Place Page, and Video Search, as well as other Google services and services outside of Google. However, Google cannot guarantee by annotating your site that results will appear in any of the above services.

Should business owners be using structured markup instead of Google Places?

No. Currently, Google Places is the only way to verify ownership of a business, update its Place Page instantly, and see the analytics dashboard. Annotating your site with structured markup is still a good idea, and a great way to make sure your website is reliably associated with the places it mentions.

How will Google treat businesses posting testimonials with review mark up on their own site? Will these be treated as a review by the Place Page?

Google’s goal is to provide a comprehensive, unbiased, and credible view of businesses. Reviews should come from an independent source to remain trustworthy. Posting testimonials or using review markup on a business site will generally not improve how its listing appears on Google. As with any form of unuseful content, reviews markup intended to game search results will only undermine the listing’s credibility and may negatively affect its ranking. See our Webmaster Guidelines.

Will Rich Snippets for Local Search be as trusted as Google Places data?

It doesn’t replace verification via Google Places. We’re using this information to allow site owners to tell us about a specific location. Like other information, it will be ranked and displayed algorithmically, depending on its relevance.

If I annotate my site with structured markup, how fast may results appear on the Place Page?

It typically has the potential of appearing within a couple of weeks of your page being indexed by Google. Currently we will only be able to recognize basic business listing information (name, address, phone number) and surface reviews and photos.

What is the optimal way of using structured markup. Should you have a separate “Reviews” page or should you incorporate them within the body of the site?

For “discoverability” purposes, it does not matter much. But from an attribution/link back point of view, having a reviews page might make more sense since Google can point users directly to that page. Having a page for each review might be even better. In the end, you should really design the page in a way that makes sense for your site and your end users’ experience.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google's Rich Snippets For Local FAQ Update by

8 thoughts on “Google’s Rich Snippets For Local FAQ Update”

  1. “Clearly, it would seem to be in every one’s best interest if Google’s current policy and best practices were easily tracked.”

    But Mike, it’s so much easier for Marissa to outsource/crowdsource this to you!

  2. @David

    Well I have made a career out it, that’s for sure. But truth be told, I would just as soon be out of work on this front. 🙂

    Interesting that they have clearly stated NOT to use microformats as a way to manage call tracking numbers.

  3. I’ve made review pages on two sites (both utilizing proper hreview code) that have passed the Rich Snippets Testing Tool test, and I’ve not seen any change in the SERPs (no star ratings). It’s been 6 weeks… I was hoping to see the review data in the SERP’s — oh well, I have my fingers crossed; having the code definitely can’t hurt 🙂

  4. @Andy-
    I have recently done the same thing on a client’s site. However; after reading this, I’m now inclined to remove the markup. I’m curious why you think the code can’t hurt if G is now stating that it ‘might’ hurt?

  5. Thanks for this. Curious if “phone numbers that are not specific to a business location” applies to Google Voice numbers. If so, this guidance would indicate that it’s a bad idea to use GV as a primary number for a business in general. Do you have any idea?

  6. @Nico
    NAP is and NAP will be for the foreseeable future. The P part of the NAP is Phone number and it is a primary key used by Google to cluster the data about your business.

    You should have only ONE specific number for each location/public presence/professional. You shouldn’t have one in this directory, another in another directory and a third on your website for the particular place. It can be a Google Voice number, or a VOIP number or (probably most trusted) a land line but it should be only ONE.

    That number is the glue that holds Google’s clustering system together.

  7. Thanks for the reply. I’ve been following your and David’s one phone number advice, but we use Google Voice for our number, and it hadn’t occurred to me that it might be less trusted than a land line. Probably still worth it for our business, but good to keep in mind.

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