Google announced a change in its policy regarding review display in organic search results. As your digital marketing experts, we break down what you need to know.

What is Changing?

Google updated its algorithm to alter the way reviews appear in organic search. Subsequently, there are new requirements as to which sites can display reviews (stars) in search results. The most significant policy change is regarding “self-serving” reviews, according to Google.

What are “self-serving” reviews? Google defines a review as “self-serving” when a review about an entity is placed on that entity’s website, either directly in their markup or via an embedded third party widget. Google does not find these reviews in the best interest of the user, and will no longer display these reviews in organic search results.

While this may seem like a significant departure from their previous policy, this does not mean that all reviews have been eliminated from search results. With this change, Google is placing importance on Google My Business and Local Services by Google. In addition, sites like HomeAdvisor, Facebook, Angie’s List, and more will not be impacted by the change. Why? Google views these sites as aggregators of reviews--they do not benefit from a company’s positive reviews, nor are they harmed by negative ones--meaning these third-party site reviews are meant to guide users to form their own opinion of a company.

An Important Note

You may notice that some local businesses still have reviews that appear in their company’s organic results. That’s due to leveraging black hat tactics that we do not recommend. These are temporary fixes that will not benefit a site in the long-term, and will most likely incur a manual penalty from Google. It’s better that we adapt to Google’s policy as opposed to finding a temporary loophole.

What Happens to Your On-Site Reviews?

Not to worry, all of your on-site reviews will still be displayed prominently on your homepage and throughout your site. Your website reviews work to dramatically impact your overall site conversion rates. That’s the reason we strive to grow your reputation, to build trust with potential buyers and convert them into customers.

Our tool also helps you grow your reviews on third-party sites. When a customer submits a review, you can opt to display these reviews on external review sites to help you boost your star ratings on these third-party platforms.

What You Can Expect from Spectrum

In your next monthly meeting, your client management team will present new solutions and discuss a long-term strategy to continue growing your online presence. If you have any immediate questions, feel free to reach out and connect with your client management team.