hReview Testimonials from SMB Sites Starting to Show in Places

Since last October when Google noted in their FAQ that Rich Snippet testimonials might flow into a Place Page, many webmasters took the time to mark up their client’s sites in hReview.

As Andrew Shotland has recently noted and my observations have confirmed, these marked up reviews have slowly been making their way onto Places Pages from 3rd party review sites.

However none had been seen from SMB sites until very recently. Since the first of May, 3 examples of SMB website’s testimonial pages having finally shown up on their Places Page. While there are likely to be more in the wild, three examples (from myself, Andy Kuiper & Tyler Robertson) seem to indicate that going forward more are likely to occur:

Testimonial & Place Page 

 

Place Page Screen Shot
Sweet Carolina Cupcakes 

Place Page

Barbara Oliver Jewelry 

Place Page

Electra Hair Laser Removal 

Place Page

Disclosure: Barbara Oliver and Co Jewelry is a current client. Although I must say she is one of the best jewlers in Buffalo and if you need any jewelry you should give her a call – (716) 204-1297

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
hReview Testimonials from SMB Sites Starting to Show in Places by

26 thoughts on “hReview Testimonials from SMB Sites Starting to Show in Places”

  1. The reviews I coded for one of my clients showed up in Google Places around 4/25. I marked up the reviews on both the website and the blog and the reviews showing up in Places are from the blog. Thanks for encouraging everyone to do this. My client was extremely happy to see so many stars next to his listing.

  2. thanks for the link Mike.
    One good thing about this is if you’re still struggling with TA reviews coming and going this is great way to get back at least some lost review juice.

  3. @tyler

    Yes, this should be a no brainer for any hotel, particularly national chains, as it seems that Google really trusts those sites.

    NP on the link. Would be glad to send one your way if I knew what company you were with. :)

  4. No worries. A link to the client’s Places page is fine. I’m a free-lancer and I prefer to toil behind the scenes and let the client’s search presence do the talking. :)

  5. Mike, I am mis-remembering that just a few months ago, Google provided guidance in some FAQ/post suggesting that marked up testimonials are treated as spam? Did they ever “officially” reverse this position?

  6. Do you have to request to Google that your reviews get published on a places page or did they show up for you guys just by marking the code up correctly and just giving it some time.

  7. I like that Google is getting this done, but they have a long way to go just dealing with the basics, like not erasing good information when it merges with old records for example.

    My concern is that Google is quick to add features like this without having the capacity to monitor reviews for spam. And that’s exactly where this is going. hreview sites could be the next “content farms” if Google doesn’t police this.

  8. Mike –

    I wrote up a post with some info about how to insert hReviews onto a website – either manually or with a really great WordPress plugin. Your readers can find the post at Inserting hReviews.

    Not sure how you feel about links in comments… I thought this was helpful, but won’t be offended if you delete it.

  9. Mike – Thanks for sharing examples of these showing up. Could be great news for SMBs (although maybe even greater news for spammers).

  10. Hey, Mike!
    Now this is cool to see! Like Ted Pfaff, I am wondering about that outstanding hReviews-as-spam issue. I’m glad Chris linked to his post – good to have a how-to attached to this discussion.

  11. @Jordan,
    I’ve done a bit of research on this because we’ve seen reviews edited by the business owner through a personalized 3rd party review site tearing up the SERPs and Places page.

    The owner has the user fill out a review at a kiosk while they’re waiting for paperwork to get finished up and while they’re still happy about buying something expensive. It’s clever, but not exactly ethical since the owner gets to edit the review for anchor text, title, meta description, etc. before it gets published. They don’t even have to publish it if they don’t want to.

    It seems that good SEO, micro formatting, and a large number of natural looking reviews is all it takes to start showing up in the Places page. Currently there is no way to submit your review site to Google for consideration.

  12. @Chris
    Thaks for the link… anything contextually relevant is always welcome.

    @Jesse
    I would be curious the actual site that you see being so successful with this tactic.

    @Jordan
    As Jesse noted good practice is the best way to go… even then there are no guarantees as Google will decide whether to include or not…

    @Mirima & Ted

    Here is Carter’s statement from Feb 8th:

    An authentic testimonial is really nothing more than a glowingly positive user review that the business owner has hand-chosen to feature because it’s speaks so highly of the business. There’s nothing wrong with that – especially if there are avenues to corroborate the authenticity of the author and review (e.g. “reviewer” attribute referencing the hcard of a real person that might have originally posted comments on a blog or review site). The FAQ below was intended to convey that we try to classify reviews wherever they’re found on the Web but that we also aim to protect users from spam.

    The use of hReview or other structured HTML formats on any site is just an aid in understanding the page more precisely. Ranking tries to steer clear of suspicious testimonials regardless of whether they’re marked-up or not on an SMB’s own site. Bottom line – it’s not that we always score testimonials on business home pages as spammy but rather that white-hat SEOs might not invest special effort to markup testimonials at this point.

    A bit obtuse perhaps but in the end I think he is saying it comes down to trust.

  13. @Mike, I’m not going to make a link because I’m not a fan, but I’m referring to prestoreviews.com. Currently they have a client with over 2,700 reviews!

    I don’t believe Google will reward this business practice in the future.

    I’d love to hear what everyone else thinks about this approach.

  14. “it’s not that we always score testimonials on business home pages as spammy but rather that white-hat SEOs might not invest special effort to markup testimonials at this point.”

    Yes, this language is confusing and could be interpreted in different ways, I think. The ‘always’ part is a rather strange…as though Google feels that a large percentage of testimonials might be spammy, though SOME aren’t. Kind of vague what he really meant by that. And following this up with references to white hat SEOs not investing time in doing this could almost be interpreted as a recommendation that, if you are white hat, you probably shouldn’t use hReviews.

    I’m not saying that is is what Carter intended – but I believe this meaning could be construed from his choice of words. It would be great to have a newer statement from Google on this, given the news you’ve published today, Mike.

  15. @Miriam

    Parsing Carter’s word is an effort probably best reserved for the likes of Chomsky or another linguist. He all too often speaks in obfusicated code. But lets give it a shot:

    An authentic testimonial is really nothing more than a glowingly positive user review that the business owner has hand-chosen to feature because it’s speaks so highly of the business. There’s nothing wrong with that

    Translation:
    “We all agree that an SMB can use testimonials on his website to represent the opinions of his clients.”

    There’s nothing wrong with that – especially if there are avenues to corroborate the authenticity of the author and review (e.g. “reviewer” attribute referencing the hcard of a real person that might have originally posted comments on a blog or review site).

    “Trust is an issue. If the SMB makes it very easy to understand who the author is we are more likely to trust the author’s comments.”

    The FAQ below was intended to convey that we try to classify reviews wherever they’re found on the Web but that we also aim to protect users from spam.

    “We have an algo that identifies certain types of language and content as reviews. We like reviews of a business but we may or may not show it depending on whether we trust the site, trust the content and trust the author as it might be spammy.”

    The use of hReview or other structured HTML formats on any site is just an aid in understanding the page more precisely.

    (Oops that one doesn’t need translation as it is already clear)

    Ranking tries to steer clear of suspicious testimonials regardless of whether they’re marked-up or not on an SMB’s own site.

    “We understand that there are spammy reviews everywhere and our algo identifies some of those review as spammy regardless of the source… Google, Trip Advisor or an SMBs website are all sources of reviews and possible sources for spam. We take that into consideration when we rank.”

    Bottom line – it’s not that we always score testimonials on business home pages as spammy but rather that white-hat SEOs might not invest special effort to markup testimonials at this point.

    (Remember that this was in response to my scare headline that testimonials might be viewed as spam)

    “Testimonials might or might not be spammy, we might or might not include them even if they are not marked up. Take a chill pill. Just because I say it life will go on regardless.”

  16. Mike,
    Can I just say, with a monumental sigh of gratitude, Thththank youuu.
    and Phew!.
    Having tried to upload my lovely business on google places, I was tearing my hair out in frustration as the seizmic idiocy of google in producing such a complex, complicated, complelety impossible system which would drive anyone including Mr ultimately-zen-calm round the i-twist. I received my postcard, logged on to the totally unintuitive “local/add” google places website and received a message from the planet zog which said, bluntly “There is no data for your request”on my errr “dashboard” (apple speak). Having no idea what this meant, and watching in dismay as my competitors have happily logged their businesses on places, I tried to contact google for help. Woooow ho ho, back up tonto and don’t go there. Clearly google are so customer-lovingandhugging that they have no facility in england or in holland to receive a telephone call, or an email.
    Earth to google… Come in Google. Who are these people? Really, I’d like to know, who are they?

    Luckily, I have a snuffle around the web (wasting valuable earning time) and found your wonderful google translation which told me that “there is no data…zogg…dubble….woogla…request” means that they haven’t uploaded the details I put in yet. Ohhh. (though quite why this takes 6 weeks – six!! and relies on pigeon postcards to send me cyber pin numbers, baffles me , if possible, even further).

    Anyway, on my e-wanderings I met many other perfectly sensible people who have considerably less hair (and nerves) than they once did as a result of crossing paths with Google Places – How this bunch of prepubescent techno-nerds ended up with a reputation for leading edge business practice is, well, its beyond me. But thanks to you. At least I know now to wait a few days, pity the poor so and sos who have bigger problems, google represents hells on waiting room for common sense folk of the planet

  17. Bravo, Mike! That was an expert translation, in my opinion. And, the first ever experiment I’ve seen in writing subtitles for Carter Maslan :)

    Thank you for that.

    I expect it is early days yet, and I believe you already have B.O.J ranking well, but I wonder if you will see any change in rank relative to the import of her testimonials. I feel sure you’ll blog about it if you do.

  18. Wish I could find a Joomla Extension that managed reviews and held them in a rich snippet format. Seems obvious, but somehow tying together all these details is too hard for the open source world.

  19. I too am happy to see this. It is so hard for my clients to get their customers to take the time to go to a site, log in and post a review, but much easier to just send a testimonial in an email where we can then code it and add it to the site. However, I too can see this as a big spam issue. I wonder how long it will be before Google decides it was a bad idea.

    Perhaps a little off topic, but is Google pulling in Facebook reviews?

  20. Kathy, I haven’t seen any Facebook reviews in Google Places. I heard they were going to stop using Yelp reviews, as well, although I still see those on Places pages as of today.

  21. I’m curious – in light of last Thursday’s yanking of 3rd party review excerpts from Google, any predictions or W.A.Guesses re: how/if Google will proceed re: hreview testimonials left on SMB webites?

    You thinking it’s DOA or does a SMB imply that they want reviews aggregated on Google if they are formatted using the Google-approved markup?

  22. Good to hear!

    We have been used the rich snippets on our clients sites, but haven’t yet seen the reviews populate in Google’s corpus

    I wonder how long it will last before people try to game the system and how G determines which reviews are authentic and which are fake?

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