Grow your business with ratings and reviews

Reviews or testimonials are mostly said to work on the basis of social proof. Social proof is a psychological process in which people copy the behavior of others, in an attempt to reflect correct behavior. In this post, I’ll take a look at how reviews work and how structured data can help bring them to the search results.

A testimonial tells you that someone you can identify with has bought a product and loved it. That must mean the product is just the right thing for you as well. However, ratings and reviews are not just valuable for your customers alone: Google uses them in various ways too, as I’ll explain in this post. Moreover, I’ll show how you can help Google show ratings and reviews in the search results, with the right Schema.org markup.

Update: Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site! A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? Read all about Yoast SEO 11.0!

Ratings

Ratings for your website or online shop can be twofold:

  • For your entire business
  • For a specific product

Business ratings

Made.com’s Trustpilot score is highlighted in Google’s search results

Ratings for your brand or shop will most probably be given on a website like Resellerratings.com or Google My Business. Google will see these ratings and will even add Google My Business ratings to their Knowledge Graph information.

The time that Google added stars to search result pages for any website that added these ratings in Schema.org is over. Google was simply flooded with ratings, and it made less sense to add them to all the results anymore. That doesn’t mean they are entirely gone, as the opinion of your visitor or customer is still equally valuable to Google. So where it makes sense, like for hotels, Google will still show that rating. Google also tends to show shop ratings in their Google Shopping results, by the way.

Product ratings

Product ratings are a bit of a different breed, although they work pretty much the same. Have people rate your product, and add an Aggregate rating on a nice spot on your product page. Next to Google picking up on that rating and showing it in, for instance, the Google Shopping result, it increases trust in a product.

Google Shopping shows a score for the product as well as the seller

Besides, in the search results, you can also find product reviews from major websites in the search result pages, like this one from CNET:

The CNET reviews appear highlighted in the search results

CNET is a trusted source for Google, so they feel comfortable showing that rating and link these reviews on page one in the search result pages.

Obviously, it’s key to monitor these ratings and act if a product is just getting negative reviews. Either contact the reseller and ask them to fix the issues or stop selling that specific product.

Reviews

Most of the times the ratings we discussed earlier are just half of a package deal. Ratings are great, and great ratings even greater. But if that rating is accompanied by a detailed review as well, people will be able to relate to the experience another customer had even more. Regardless if that’s for a product or an entire website. These reviews influence the decision-making process of your visitor. If they come to your website and see only negative reviews, written by real people that speak from experience, they will think twice. If these reviews are all raving about the product, people will might be a little less hesitant to hit that buy button.

Reviews influence local ranking

Especially for local rankings, or local products, reviews are important. They tell Google the public perception of a brand or website. Google can process these reviews and take them into account for rankings if needed. Websites like Yelp and Tripadvisor help people from all over the world to find the right coffee shop or bakery. Sites like Booking.com tell people where to stay and allow people to share their experiences afterward. If you have sufficient reviews, Google shows these ratings and allows you to pick right from their search result pages already. If you search for a specific hotel in Google, you’ll find even more reviews in the search result pages:

Reviews and ratings aplenty in the travel business

It’s up to you which source you trust more. But we think you can’t go wrong with this hotel, right?

In addition to the usual suspects, you shouldn’t rule out reviews from Facebook as well. Maintain an active page and allow for reviews. Again, monitor these. All this positive ‘word of mouth’ combined will contribute to Google liking and ranking your online shop even better.

Ratings, reviews, and Schema.org

Google uses structured data to include extra information in the search results. The markup for structured data is taken from a vocabulary called Schema.org. A combined effort of Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Yandex, this open data format’s goal is to offer structured data that search engines can consistently use to present rich results. This could be product information, ratings, and reviews, or information about your local business. You can find in-depth information about structured data and how to apply it in our ultimate guide to structured data.

To implement structured data, you need to offer search engines the correct markup. There are a couple of ways of doing that: Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. According to Google, the latter is the easiest way of adding metadata to sites these days. JSON-LD is a lightweight data-format that’s easy to read for both humans and machines. You can test your code in Google’s Structured Data Test Tool. Yoast SEO builds a big graph of structured data for your site automatically. You can append your reviews to it. We have documentation on how to integrate with the Yoast SEO Schema implementation.

Reviews and ratings

By adding certain Schema.org elements to your code, it’s possible for Google to add reviews and ratings to your search results. You need to tell which parts are about the review and what that element represents. In Schema.org a rating is the aggregate value a product gets. A review is a rating, with an explanation in text.

Recently, Google put the squeeze on how they look at reviews and which types of Schema it supports. For the LocalBusiness and Organization types, it is no longer possible to add self-serving reviews to your site. These are reviews about businesses you collect yourself and put on your own site. It’s also not allowed to add external reviews via a widget. Of course, other types of content can still get reviews. You won’t be in violation if you have self-serving reviews on your site right now, but Google will simply not show your reviews in search anymore. Do follow Google’s guidelines or else you will get a penalty.

Google also limited the types for which it accepts review structured data. It now supports the following items:

Let’s take a look at a small review structured data example.

Review structured data example

In the example below, you see a typical Schema.org review in JSON-LD format. A couple of highlights:

  • type: The schema.org type (a review)
    • itemReviewed: What you are reviewing
    • type: The schema.org thing (a thing)
    • Any subsets to specify the thing
  • reviewRating: Is it a review or a rating?
    • type: It’s a rating
    • ratingValue: The number of stars (1-5)
  • name: The title of the review
  • author: Who wrote it?
    • type: It’s a person, of course
    • name: Name of the author
  • reviewBody: The body of the review
    • publisher: Where was the review published?
    • type: Most of the time it’s an organization
    • name: Name of the organization
<html>
<head>
<title>Yoast SEO Review</title>

{ "@context": "http://schema.org/", "@type": "Review", "itemReviewed": { "@type": "SoftwareApplication", "operatingSystem": "Web", "applicationCategory": "WebApplication", "image": "https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png", "name": "Yoast SEO" }, "reviewRating": { "@type": "Rating", "ratingValue": "5" }, "name": "The best SEO plugin ever!", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Calvin Jones" }, "reviewBody": "I love working with it.", "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "WordPress.org" }
}

</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>

Products

The same can be done for product listings. If you use the right markup, Google can pick up the data and show it in the results. You can add specifications, price, availability, reviews and ratings, and more to your listings. The code to use is comparable to the one above. Running WooCommerce? The Yoast SEO WooCommerce SEO plugin does a lot of hard work for you so you can focus on improving your site.

Local businesses

Reviews are a godsend for local businesses. That’s why it’s rather important to add them to your listings. Using Schema.org and, for instance, JSON-LD, you give Google the opportunity to add your ratings to the search results. Potential customers will get a good idea of the quality of your business, right in the search engine. Need a helping hand with your local SEO efforts? Our Local SEO plugin might do the trick!

Read more: Use JSON-LD to add schema.org to your website »

Original Article


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.