Google has made a number of notable updates to its Schema guidelines with respect to how local businesses can markup the reviews they receive.
In addition to adding new rules that were not previously in place, Google has also disallowed a few practices that were once considered perfectly acceptable. For example, businesses used to be able to add markup to reviews received from third-party sites, but that is now no longer the case.
To clarify, it’s OK to include third-party reviews on your website, as long as they are not marked up with Schema. From now on, Google wants to see Schema markup only on reviews “that have been directly produced by your site.” If the exact same review has been syndicated elsewhere, marking it up with Schema will now be a violation of Google’s guidelines.
If you use, or are planning to use Schema markup on reviews published on your website, it’s fairly important to review the new guidelines to ensure they are still being followed. Here they are verbatim:
- Snippets must not be written or provided by the business or content provider unless they are genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.
Reviews must allow for customers to express both positive and negative sentiments. They may not be vetted by the business or restricted by the content provider based on the positive/negative sentiment of the review before submission to Google.
- Reviews cannot be template sentences built from data or automated metrics. For example, the following is not acceptable: “Based on X number of responses, on average people experienced X with this business.”
- Reviews for multiple-location businesses such as retail chains or franchises can only be submitted for the specific business location for which they were written. In other words, reviews for multiple-location businesses cannot be syndicated or applied to all business locations of the same company.
- Aggregators or content providers must have no commercial agreements paid or otherwise with businesses to provide reviews.
- Do not include reviews that are duplicate or similar reviews across many businesses or from different sources.
- Only include reviews that have been directly produced by your site, not reviews from third- party sites or syndicated reviews.
H/T: Mike Blumenthal