The official name of this Google update is “September 2019 Review Rich Results Update”.
(...It doesn’t appear Google spent a lot of time working on that name🙈)
So, what is this Google update all about, why are some SEO professionals calling it #Starmageddon and will this impact your reviews?
Let’s start with what it’s not:
This update is all about how Google uses reviews in its organic search results. For years, companies have worked to get their star rating to show on search results pages. To do this, they inserted their own reviews on their website, and wrapped their reviews in schema markup.
(What is Schema markup? Google wants to understand all the information on the internet. The problem is, most of the writing on the internet is not structured. There’s nothing that tells Google that a recipe is a recipe, or that those times listed on your website are your opening and closing times. Enter Schema.org. It's a vocabulary to describe information. Website builders can markup any information with it, so that Google can understand what it reads.)
In the past, Google would understand that those reviews wrapped in schema markup were your local business reviews. And when someone searched for your product or service, they would often display your star rating alongside your listing on the search engine results page, like this:
Awesome right?! But don't get too excited. If you plan to do this for your reviews, we’re sorry, you can't.
Why? Starmageddon happened.
Let’s hear it straight from Google’s review announcement:
"Reviews that can be perceived as “self-serving” aren't in the best interest of users."
Google’s feeling is that when a company uses its own reviews as a marketing tool, the reviews are “self-serving” and therefore are not eligible to be included in the star rating shown on Google’s search engine results.
To be clear, I'll reiterate that this only applies to the star rating shown on organic search engine results, not to Google My Business results and not to star ratings shown in the Google Local 3 Pack.
If you’re using NiceJob’s stories widget to show off your reviews on your website, we’ve already handled Google’s update for you. In fact, we would highly recommend continuing to use your reviews on your website to drive sales.
AND - If you're using NiceJob, you can even get your star rating to show up on search engine results. If a 3rd party creates a page for your product or service and includes reviews with markup, Google may use those reviews in search results. For example, reviews listed on your NiceJob microsite are eligible for Google search results pages. Pretty sweet, right?
Google’s going all-in on reviews. Every year the importance Google places on reviews in search results increases. So it’s not surprising that they’re tightening the reins to prevent reviews from being abused.
This is great news for every company that is passionate about providing an exceptional product or service that their customers will love, and will not impact the reviews you collect through NiceJob.