Google with release of their critic review snippet extension has also significantly updated their rules for Local Business‘s use of review rich snippets on their website. The new rules are significantly different than the rules that were in place previously.
Here are the new Google rich snippet review guidelines verbatim:
Local business reviews
- 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.
Rich Snippet & Review Changes
Several big changes but one that should stand out is the prohibition against marking up reviews from third party sites. I assume that to mean that you can no longer mark up reviews from Google or Yelp. It is not clear how Google can or will enforce this but they have a long history in local of introducing a new rule and then delaying 3-4 months prior to enforcement.
There is also a new requirement that you must allow customers to post negative AND positive reviews. We have long supported this option. GetFiveStars doesn’t require you to show all of your feedback but we think it makes all kinds of sense to do so.
Many business locations using our system now do so and have found that on average their star rating falls by less than 1/2 of a star. And having a range of reviews leads to increased conversions because it help build trust.
But those are not the only changes that should cause you to examine your current use of rich snippets for reviews. Reviews should be “directly produced by your site” which means that if you haven’t implemented a review solution, you need to start thinking about one.