Google won’t display enhanced search results for customer reviews that are republished from other sources, even if they have valid structured data markup.
In order for a webpage to show review snippets in search results, the reviews have to be submitted directly to the website.
Taking customer reviews for your business from elsewhere on the web, and publishing them on your website, will disqualify the page from being eligible for rich results.
Google defines reviews from other sources as “testimonials,” rather than “reviews.”
This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on November 19.
Adrian Lyons, the owner of a photography business, joins the hangout to ask Google’s John Mueller why he can’t get review snippets to show up in search results despite the Schema markup being valid.
Mueller goes on to explain the difference between reviews that are eligible for the review snippets and those that aren’t.
Google’s John Mueller On Review Snippets
Lyons tells Mueller he has a page on his website dedicated to republishing reviews from his Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).
There’s nothing wrong with doing that, Mueller says, but Google will only display enhanced results for reviews submitted directly to the website.
If the review is submitted through Google Search or Google Maps it’s still considered a testimonial, Mueller says:
“We probably wouldn’t show that as reviews in the search results because it’s more like a testimonial. Reviews would essentially need to be something which is based on a specific product on that page and the reviews need to be things that users leave directly on that page.
So if you’re kind of like archiving reviews from other sources and you’re posting them then we wouldn’t pick those up as reviews for the structured data side. You can keep them on the page we just wouldn’t use the review markup for that.”
Upon hearing that, you may be quick to ask how Google knows the difference between a review submitted directly and a review from a third-party source.
Mueller says Google’s systems are designed to identify that automatically, though he doesn’t give away any specifics.
However, Google doesn’t always get it right, and you may come across websites in the SERPs that have review snippets even if they don’t accept reviews directly.
That’s the exception, not the rule, and just because it works for another site doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
“If people are leaving the review somewhere else, and you’re making a copy of that then, the original place would be the place where the structured data would need to be implemented.
I think it’s kind of tricky because we try to recognize this situation automatically, and sometimes we don’t recognize it properly and just show it anyway. So perhaps when you’re searching around you see other sites that are shown where it’s just, well, it was like we didn’t recognize that this was actually not left directly on the site.
But from a policy point of view, we try not to show reviews that are left somewhere else that are copied over to a website. You can still keep them on your pages, it’s just we won’t show them with the special treatment in the search results.”
What Could A Business Do Instead?
If getting review snippets in SERPs is a priority for your business, you have to provide a way for customers to send in reviews directly.
This has to be done for each individual product or service on your website. Reviews that rate the business overall are not eligible for review snippets.
The best way to accomplish this is by adding a review submission form on every product or service page on your site. Think about Amazon, for example, and how every product page invites you to leave a review.
Apply the same concept to your site, and with valid Schema markup your product and/or service pages will be eligible for review snippets.
For more information, see:
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below.
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, November 2021.