The powerful SEO hack you probably haven't tried: rich snippets
Rich Snippets, service reviews, aggregate ratings, schema.org, JSON-LD, structured data, microdata, Google, SERPs, click-through rate, SEO... Welcome to the world of reviews.
Whether you are a business owner, marketing director, SEO manager, or in any other related role, you’ve probably come across these terms from time to time.
This blog post helps you understand Rich Snippets stars and ensure best practices are adopted for your site(s). We’ll look at Rich Snippet Stars for organic search, not the Google Seller Rating stars associated with Google AdWords.
SEO doesn’t need to be complex. Yes, good SEO takes effort - and websites who make the effort are likely to benefit in the long run - but it’s best to keep SEO simple. The acid test and main question to ask yourself is this: “Is this feature useful for my users?”
First up, what are Rich Snippets?
Rich Snippets is the markup of your content with ‘structured data’ that allows search engines to better understand and index this information.
This markup allows us to make our websites stand out in both Google and Bing’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and, more importantly, can increase click-through rate.
The screenshot above is from IslandSurf.com. The yellow stars, the rating and number of reviews show useful feedback information to the person searching. Before I click on the link, I already know upfront the business has a decent rating, albeit from two reviews. It still shows me the quality I can expect from the company.
How do I get the Rich Snippet Stars?
To set up for Rich Snippets, all you need to do is simply mark-up the web page with AggregateRating.
For merchants, you would normally mark-up AggregateRating on a service page. Other pages where you could mark-up would include your dedicated customer reviews page, or an About Us page, if it is relevant.
The data should automatically update as and when new reviews are added.
NOTE: Rich Snippets and the benefits gained from them are entirely down to Google’s discretion. Even when you have satisfied all of their guidelines, it is still Google who decides whether they display Rich Snippets in SERPs.
Rich snippets for your service reviews by marking up your TrustScore
Thanks to some recent developments in Google’s guidelines, it is now possible to mark-up your TrustScore so you have Rich Snippets on your site.
Do note that the TrustScore is a measure of your customer satisfaction based on reviews collected at Trustpilot.
For this reason, marking-up service pages with your TrustScore could be seen as misleading and should therefore always be avoided.
In addition, Google doesn’t want to see the same markup on all pages of your site, which looks spammy.
If offenders are caught breaching their guidelines, whether by their own sophisticated algorithms or manual action, they will remove the offending snippets. Getting legitimate snippets recognized in the future could be a challenge if Google has previously dealt with a breach of guidelines on a given website.
We’d recommend that you mark-up your TrustScore on selected pages of your site. This includes the dedicated customer reviews page, or your About Us page. The latter two pages are where customers and search engines can see the trustworthiness of your business.
Trustpilot will soon release a new TrustBox that marks up your TrustScore. We recommend you use these new TrustBoxes as we ensure it is always up to date with Google’s guidelines.
Things to avoid
- Avoid Rich Snippet spam at all costs (against Google guidelines)
- Avoid misleading your users (ensure your users have the best landing page experience)
- Avoid marking up category/list pages with Rich Snippets stars (against Google guidelines)
Common Rich Snippet infringements we see on our travels
We often see sites that have implemented Rich Snippets incorrectly. Below are some common mistakes:
Marking-up the same AggregateRating throughout all pages of your site.
- i.e. marking-up your TrustScore on every single page of your website is frowned upon. This looks spammy, and doesn’t provide a good experience for your users.
- Google is clamping down on site-wide footer statements that read along the lines of “XXX is rated XX out of XX”
It is also worth noting Google’s algorithms for detecting Rich Snippet abuse are not 100%. This could be that some industries are not yet under the radar.
You may see competitors benefitting from Rich Snippets in the short term. However, do not worry. When Google discovers them they will face a hard time getting Rich Snippets legitimately in the future.
Fortunately Trustpilot have TrustBoxes to help ensure that you stay on the right side of Google. Our recommendations are as follows:
- TrustBox for service reviews with Rich Snippets markup on your customer reviews page.
- TrustBox for service reviews without any markup on your category or anywhere else on your site.
Do get in touch with the team if you have any questions on our TrustBoxes or Rich Snippet related questions.