Important Info on Google’s Recent Review Star Changes, Part 2June 17, 2021
In part one of this two-part blog series, we looked into some of the recent changes made by Google when it comes to review stars for SERPs. Aimed at targeting what the company labels as “self-serving” reviews and removing them from results, the update had a significant impact on a wide range of industries.
At SEO Werkz, our team of SEO service professionals is always on top of these kinds of changes and how they might impact your internet marketing efforts. In today’s blog, we’ll look at some of the specific fallout of this latest update, plus how you can still utilize many review types properly despite the changes.
For starters, some site managers might be worried about incurring Google penalties if they leave their current on-site review schema active. As we’ll dig into below, first-party reviews like these are the hot-button issue at the heart of these changes. However, you should not receive any penalty from continuing your previous setup here.
First-Party Reviews, Spam and “Review Gating”
It appears many of the reviews being targeted here are first-party reviews, or those listed directly on your site. Google may be trying to address a few major industry issues here, including review spam and a practice called review gating – one where companies intentionally post only the positive, happy customer reviews on their site, but filter out all negative reviews of any kind. Google has often come out against this practice, and this appears to be another move in that direction as they’ve labeled many such reviews “self-serving.”
Now, does this mean you’ll have to entirely stop all such first-party reviews? Absolutely not. For starters, it’s possible Google will reverse its decision at some point, or at least scale it back to some degree. For another, there are still numerous benefits to first-party reviews, which we’ll go over next.
Continued Value of First-Party Reviews
Even despite Google’s changes, the fact remains that many customer bases are just far more likely to give a direct review than to go a public site like Google. Just because snippets are being phased out and star ratings are less commonly seen in search results doesn’t mean there’s no utility to these kinds of reviews, which still hold several potential uses:
- Feedback: Getting direct, pointed feedback from a customer improves everything from your relationship with them to your internal processes. This is valuable regardless of where your review is being seen or how it appears.
- Confidence: Placing reviews near your products gives customers confidence to move forward.
- Content: Web content is a huge factor in SEO success, and on-site reviews are a great way to generate it. These reviews tend to contain good keywords and other beneficial elements.
- Keyword research: You can learn a lot about the kinds of keywords your customers care about by allowing their reviews on your site, allowing you to alter your tactical approach if necessary.
For more on what recent Google review changes mean for you, or to learn about any of our SEO, PPC or web design services, speak to the staff at SEO Werkz today.