25 Takeaways from The New Google Local Reviews Schema Guidelines

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25 Takeaways from The New Google Local Reviews Schema Guidelines 

The new Google local review schema guidelines have changed the landscape concerning how businesses and websites markup their reviews. Google’s target is to inject more integrity into the schema markup process so that star ratings shown in search results truthfully reflect consumer ratings. In the same wavelength, Google has also outlawed blackhat markup strategies that some people have been taking advantage of. Below are 25 takeaways from the new Google local reviews schema guidelines.

Only reviews produced by your site count

From now on, only use schema markup on reviews that your site generates.

Third party reviews have been outlawed

You are not allowed to markup any reviews from third party sites such as Yelp, Facebook, etc.

You can markup third party reviews provided you do not use schema

Since Google has only outlawed the use of schema markup on third party reviews, you can still markup the said reviews using other markup methods.

Use of duplicate reviews is prohibited

Even if gotten from several different sources, you should not use duplicate reviews.

Self-written reviews are prohibited

A business cannot use schema markup on any self-written review. Therefore, do not waste resources on self-written reviews.

Reviews written by content providers are prohibited

Only markup genuine review snippets from consumers. Otherwise, you risk being penalized by Google.

Marked up reviews must be independent

You should not use schema markup on review snippets that you have directly or indirectly influenced in any way.

Paid reviews should not be marked up

Paid reviews are obviously biased. Play safe and avoid marking up such reviews using schema.

Filtered reviews are prohibited

Filtering or embellishing snippets so as to paint the business or website in a better light is prohibited. You should markup your reviews as they are.

Markup both positive and adverse reviews

Being selective regarding the snippets you markup is not allowed. Take both positive and negative sentiments into consideration equally.

The business should not vet reviews

Vetting of reviews by the company or by content providers before snippet markup is not allowed. Again, markup reviews as they are to be on the safe side.

Reviews should not be based on aggregated data

Guidelines prohibit markup of reviews founded on aggregated data. Do not, therefore; markup averaged reviews.

Reviews should not be based on automated metrics

Do not markup any review that relies on automatic metrics.

Reviews should be location specific

If you have shops or outlets in different places, the reviews you markup should only apply to the stores in the areas in which the reviews were written. Generalization is not allowed.

Content providers should not have commercial agreements regarding reviews

To safeguard the integrity of reviews, content vendors and businesses are not allowed to get into commercial review-generation deals. Do not attempt to play the system by getting into such deals as it may backfire on you.

Only markup reviews from real people

Marking up of fictitious reviews is a blackhat tactic that is still prohibited. Also, all reviews should have the names of real people.

Violation of any guideline will still result in penalties

Penalties are still Google’s way of meting out punishment to websites and businesses that do not follow given stipulations to the letter.

Double check your schema markup before submitting

It is advisable that you double check your schema markups before submission. Make sure your markups are functioning properly in the structured data scrutinizing tool.

No use of virtual location

Use of virtual locations in schema markups is still not allowed. Only use actual locations.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews

Collecting personal reviews is more important now more than ever. Encourage your customers to leave more reviews – you can offer incentives such as free goodies for example.

Provide convenient channels for customers to give feedback

Make sure you do follow ups on customers as well as provide different convenient channels for collecting reviews. Moreover, impress upon your clients that their response is highly cherished.

Put in place a feedback strategy regarding negative reviews

You should engage with dissatisfied customers so as to polish up on the areas resulting in bad ratings for the enterprise.

You should not add a private mail address to your markup

It is prohibited to include a personal mail address that is not shown on your website in your schema markup.

Do not use local schema markup as P.O box

Google still prohibits utilization of local schema as your P.O box.

Add schema markup to individual location pages

It is advisable to add schema markup to all location pages; especially so if the pages have differing names, addresses and phone details (NAPs).

In conclusion, Google still does not guarantee that your snippets will be shown in search results. However, making sure your reviews adhere to all guidelines increases the probability that your snippets will make it to relevant search results.