Any Google My Business consultant and many business owners have come to understand the importance of reviews as part of their Google My Business setup. In fact, reviews form a fundamental part of how a business is seen by customers and ranked by search engines. With the use of reviews by Local SEO experts, this has become a positive indication which drives business growth, sales, and overall conversions. However, in a recent announcement by Google, it appears there is a new “algorithm update” which threatens to expose any GMB SEO coach who may have been self-serving with respect to reviews.
Search results are enhanced by review rich results which have been extremely helpful for consumers when on the lookout for products and services. In order to make these search results a lot more meaningful and helpful, Google has introduced algorithmic updates updates to address some incorrect or rather misleading implementations which have been flagged by webmasters.
What does the update bring?
The latest algorithmic update presents users with a whole lot of changes which is expected to change the way results are presented and also to improve the overall search experience. Some of the changes to expect as part of the update include;
Focus on schema types
The update presents a Local SEO consultant with a chance to attach a review markup to any schema types displaying star reviews. In addition to this, the update will be bringing a limitation to the pool of schema types that can potentially trigger review rich results in a search.
Ban on Self-serving reviews
Some reviews can be deemed ‘self-serving’ especially when they originate from a source that is closer to the local business or organizations. For example, if a review about a business entity called “Z” is placed on the website of the business either from a 3rd party embedded widget or directly in their markup, such a review can be deemed self-serving and is regarded to not be in the best interest of internet users. The latest algorithmic update will prevent the display of review rich schema types LocalBusiness and Organization, and other related subtypes in cases where the business entity that is the subject of the review controls the review themselves.
What the latest updates mean for local businesses
The latest algorithmic update from Google seems to mean that the platform is trying to push back against businesses who would give themselves 5-star reviews and ratings, whether directly or via third-party applications.
The update should go all well and good, especially as the abuse of structured mark-ups has been in existence for a while and has affected the way consumers view reviews on websites. This development may also give brands that pay 3rd parties to aggregate legitimate reviews a reason to wonder why they have created a budget for this.
Although reviews contribute to a lot of brand progress, perhaps the biggest are the orange stars in the SERPs.
Local SEO consultants may find this to be a great development if Google can wrap this up finely. However, it is worth stating that some potential new loopholes can be exploited. These include:
- Creating separate entities that are not linked to your business and add the marked-up reviews of the new entity to your website.
- Creating a separate domain that will be creating reviews for your business and mark up those reviews.
- Businesses or a GMB SEO coach can also build a directory of local businesses that are in no way related to their business, publish reviews and mark them up as needed.
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Chaz Edward LLC
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