Are Rich Snippet Reviews Making a Limited Comeback in Local?

I am once again seeing semantically marked up pages shown with review stars in the search results . However the frequency of their display is very limited compared to earlier in the year. Summary review stars from the home page, which were wildly abused, are not visible but review stars are visible on this testimonial page.

Google’s displays come and go but rich snippet formatting of local web pages for reviews, location, authorship and publisher makes sense as a standard practice.

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Are Rich Snippet Reviews Making a Limited Comeback in Local? by

22 thoughts on “Are Rich Snippet Reviews Making a Limited Comeback in Local?”

  1. I’ve been getting more and more of my clients testimonials pages to show the rich snippet, but it’s not always a guarantee it’ll show. I have noticed that there might be a limit to the # of reviews on a “localBusiness” page to show the rich snippet. 55 testimonials was too much, but when I brought the aggregate down to 35 the rich snippet showed up in the testing tool. This was a new page and it’s indexed and showing the rich snippet now. This was completely unscientific, but made me curious for testing in the future. I may start adding a testimonial every time it gets recrawled to see what the limit is.

  2. I don’t think PR has anything to do with it since this page is a few days old with a PR of 0 and the homepage is an unimpressive PR2. This page has no external links pointing to it either.

  3. Thanks for posting, Mike!

    To the extent that the title is a question, I’d have to say that no, rich-snippet reviews aren’t making a comeback. For the following reasons:

    -The review stars on *organic* local search results (like Barbara Oliver’s) never went away – except that they’re no longer showing up for marked-up testimonials on the homepage, as you say. One of my clients has had his rich-snippet stars show up both for (1) a city-specific page that shows up when you type “city + keyword” and for (2) a branded search that returns an organic local search result for his “Testimonials” page (again, the same as what you have with BOJ). This has been the case ever since we marked up his testimonials in late March / early April.

    -The review stars still aren’t showing any more for any businesses that are in the 7-pack (or 3-pack) results. Since May I have not seen one single instance of rich-snippet review stars in any “pack” results.

    Like Zachary, I see the rich-snippet stars mostly for branded organic results. I also occasionally see them for organic local search results (e.g. “city + keyword”). But I haven’t seen any departures from this – times when Google has *not* shown any review stars for those sorts of queries. I don’t believe Google is showing the stars any more or less frequently as of the last couple of months (again, except for the homepage results you mentioned).

  4. @Phil

    They went away for her…. obviously not for everyone. I would ask the same question of you that I asked of Jesse… have you seen any of the testimonial pages attach to the G+local page.

  5. @Mike

    So far, no: I have not seen any testimonial pages attached to a Google+Local page. In fact, unless I’ve missed something, I’m not seeing BOJ’s testimonial page attached to her G+L page. Here’s a screenshot of what I’m seeing:

  6. @Mike, I’ve never had a testimonials page get linked from the G+Local page, but I do recall you posting about it happening last year.

    Are you saying it’s again attached to Barbara’s G+Local page? I only see Citysearch, Insiderpages & Yellowbot listed.

    If I were G I definitely wouldn’t link to the reviews on a business’ website because it’s just too easy to spam.

    *Puts on grey hat*
    Maybe if you put the reviews on a different domain then would they get attached? Or is there a whitelist?

  7. I am seeing a variety of results on all fronts, and i am advising clients to use “real” review strategy from a variety of inputs. Ultimatley, I believe the natural progression will be looked at in the algo, as as sign of clarity. Rich Snippit seem to dominate for city and keyword.. when the “intent” is identified. This has a longer broader effect and G+(reviews) are going to have to become more interdependant to give itself a more trusted value.

  8. Related to this discussion, has there been any change in the best practice for rich snippet markup in light of the Zagat review format? And perhaps I missed this, but how does G reconcile 5 stars to 0-3?

    1. @peter

      Google only uses the 4 point Zagat scale on their own reviews and don’t translate 3rd party reviews from the 5 star standard. Thus it had no impact on the rich snippet coding. As far as I know there is no rich snippet defining a 30 point scale.

      When they converted their old 5 star reviews a 5 became a 30 and a 3 star review became a 20.

  9. Thanks @Mike

    The separate systems just seem increasingly convoluted and confusing. Further support, perhaps, for your post earlier this week that Google might be reconsidering Zagat post-Marissa. What works for restaurants doesn’t for so many other types of businesses. I’m just waiting for the day that one of our energy efficiency contractors gets reviewed on their “decor.”

  10. @Phil

    Interesting. I see Barbara Oliver’s review page attached to her listing on the front page results –see this screen shot. But it is not showing on the G+Local page.

    I think that there is a 4 review site limit on the front page and a 3 review site limit on the G+Local page. At least that was the case on the few I looked at.

  11. rich snippet reviews are spotty in the serps now, but we found a way to make them a little more sticky by making them change with each page load on our client’s sites.

    If you use wordpress there are some plugins that can help you do this in a widget.

  12. @Mike

    Ah, I think I finally see what you were referring to: the fact that the 3rd-party reviews and the marked-up testimonials are shown in the “preview” to the right.

    Regarding the 4-site vs 3-site limit, I can verify that that’s exactly right: only 3 sites with reviews will show up at the bottom of the G+L page, whereas up to 4 can show in the “preview” area. (I did a post at the beginning of the year where I had occasion to look at a couple hundred businesses with third-party reviews, so that’s when I first noticed this.)

    Oddly enough, I noticed that until very recently the bottom of Barbara Oliver’s G+L page had a link to her 11 on-site testimonials. Now that link isn’t there any more: looks like it’s been supplanted by a link to that one YellowBot review. Probably old news to you, though 🙂

  13. I have one site where I marked up the testimonial page in hReview showing up as a third party review on their Google+ Local Page. However the ‘gold stars’ are not showing up in the Local serps

  14. I have my reservations about the efficacy of the system. Some of the reviews seem so blatantly planted that you can only laugh at the audacity of the whole thing. But people still get sucked in because they do not bother to dig down deep enough.

  15. I added rich snippet vote stars to my business site, a day later I had the five stars showing in both organic serp AND my google + local 7-pack listing, it was great having the stars back….plus a couple days later my listing moved to #1, I’m sure because of the added clicks the stars generated, but they were gone a week later. They are still confirmed with the google snippet tool. However at the time I also added them to one of the other pages on my site and they are still live there, so I’m pretty confident they are not permitted for urls linked to google+ pages. I’m thinking its because with paid adsense listings showing them, google wants $ for them now.

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