It’s no secret that many of us relying on reviews found online to make a decision about a company. Something so simple as a quick Google search can pull up a multitude of information, including reviews, about a business.
Now, as much as reviews can be helpful, they can also be manipulated; businesses can post their own positive reviews about their companies to encourage a potential buyer to make a sale.
Google has recently announced some changes that are being made to review rich results that will intentionally block (or not display) pages that are “flagged” for containing reviews written by themselves.
How are “fake” reviews being monitored?
They are doing this by focusing on schema type (codes). Schema markup is code that you embed on your website to help the search engines turn up better results for your users. Google is limiting the schema types that may draw up review rich results when searched.
According to Google, “Reviews that can be perceived as “self-serving” aren't in the best interest of users. We call reviews “self-serving” when a review about entity A is placed on the website of entity A - either directly in their markup or via an embedded 3rd party widget. That’s why, with this change, we’re not going to display review rich results anymore for the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization (and their subtypes) in cases when the entity being reviewed controls the reviews themselves.”
To simplify this, if a review is flagged on a business’s site that they have either left by themselves or embedded on their website by the use of a third-party widget, then it is considered self-serving, and therefore doesn't contain helpful information for reviewers.
So, Google will not be showing the results for the LocalBusiness and Organization schema types, that are flagged as embedded on the business's own site.
Now, while this is removing many “fake” reviews, it is also helping remove “skewed” results. While they may have a great product, if a company themselves is reviewing it, or promoting the review, then it means that the review is sure to be in their favor, and therefore not considered accurate or reliable.
What does this mean?
This update causes no inconvenience to website owners, but will significantly improve the review experience for users. Allowing them to trust reviews with confidence.
If you plan on continuing to use Google search as an organic method to boost your website traffic than we would recommend that you carefully review Google’s new policy and make any necessary changes not to have your content blocked from search results.