Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Using Rich Snippets For Product Reviews

For retailers who run ecommerce websites, getting enhanced listings is a key way to improve the prominence of your listings and get more click-throughs.

In this article we will be looking at implementing rich snippets for reviews.

Product Reviews for Existing Products

The first and most powerful way to get rich snippets is to add product reviews to your existing products. (We discussed how to get these reviews here.)

Once you have obtained a “critical mass” of reviews, you can add them to the product pages. You need to use the proper HTML markup to ensure that the search engines will understand and properly extract the data to display it in a rich snippet format. (Otherwise you’re not getting the most value out of those reviews!)

There’s no point being creative with conventions here – if you use something familiar, you’re more likely to get the desired snippet. If you use common styles that search engines are familiar with, you will have an easier time getting the rich snippet.

The two most common rating systems are 0-5 stars or a number rating from 0-100. Not all of the information is required, but the more information you provide, the better. First, we will be looking at adding the markup for individual reviews directly on the product page.

In this example, we will be working with the following data:

Item Name: 32″ Blue Widget Holder
Item URL: http://example.com/blue-widget-holder-32/
Item Description: This wall mount will securely hold your 32″ blue widget to any wall.
Review Author: Mike G.
Review Date: 2012-03-01
Review text: This is the most secure mounting system for blue widgets I have ever used.
Rating: 4.5
Lowest Rating Score: 0
Highest Rating Score: 5

All of the specifications for product reviews can be found on Schema.org/Product.

If you want a tool that’s less complex and complicated, a much easier tool can be found at Schema Creator.

Ultimately, your data should look like this:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Review">
<a itemprop="url" href="http://example.com/blue-widget-holder-32/">
<div itemprop="name">
<strong>32" Blue Widget Holder</strong>
<div itemprop="description">
This wall mount will securely hold your 32" blue widget to any wall.
<div itemprop="reviewBody">
This is the most secure mounting system for blue widgets I have ever used.
<div itemprop="author" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
Written by: <span itemprop="name">Mike G.</span></div>
<div><meta itemprop="datePublished" content="2012-03-01">Date published: 03/01/2012</div>
<div itemprop="reviewRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Rating">
<meta itemprop="worstRating" content="0"><span itemprop="ratingValue">4.5</span> / <span itemprop="bestRating">5</span> stars</div>

Each review should be wrapped in its own block of code. If you want to have separate pages for the aggregate review data and the individual reviews, you’ll have to use a slightly different implementation. Here is the basic data we will be working from:

Item Name: 32″ Blue Widget Holder
Item URL: http://example.com/blue-widget-holder-32/
Item Description: This wall mount will securely hold your 32″ blue widget to any wall.
Brand: Acme Widgets
Manufacturer: Acme
Model: wm-1-1
Product ID: 123wms
Average Review: 4
Total Reviews: 5
Price: $45
Condition: New

We’ve found http://schema-creator.org/product.php to be much easier to understand and use.

Properly formatted your product data looks like this:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product">
<a itemprop="url" href="http://example.com/blue-widget-holder-32/">
<div itemprop="name">
<strong>32" Blue Widget Holder</strong>
<div itemprop="description">This wall mount will securely hold your 32" blue widget to any wall.</div>
<div itemprop="brand" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
<span itemprop="name">Acme Widgets</span></div>
<div itemprop="manufacturer" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
Manufactured by: <span itemprop="name">Acme</span></div>
<div>Model: <span itemprop="model">wm-1-1</span></div>
<div>Product ID: <span itemprop="productID">123wms</span></div>
<div itemprop="aggregateRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/AggregateRating">
<span itemprop="ratingValue">4</span> based on <span itemprop="reviewCount">5</span> reviews</div>
<div itemprop="offers" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Offer"><span itemprop="price">$45</span><link itemprop="itemCondition" href="http://schema.org/NewCondition" /> New</div></div>

Be Sensible: Test It First!

Before implementing this site-wide, the best thing to do is put up a test page and use the Rich Snippet Testing Tool. Once you have that format right, build a review submission page that links directly from your product pages. Pre-fill as much information as you possible can. The easier it is for your customer to complete the review, the more likely she is to do it. This also makes it easy for you to extract from a database and publish with the properly formatted markup.

It takes time.

After you have published the products with proper markup, you’ll need wait a while before rich snippets begin appearing. If you’re sure your page has passed the testing and is properly formatted but the rich snippet is not showing, Google has provided an FAQ on rich snippets not appearing. If none of the reasons match your case your next best option is to look in Google’s Webmaster Central Console.

SEO Concerns

When you add reviews to product page in some cases there are SEO concerns to be aware of.

Don’t cheat.

Adding fake reviews is a bad, dishonest practice, and in some jurisdictions, illegal. Just don’t do it. As a retailer, you want a healthy relationship with your customers and with the marketplace at large.

It’s best to have a review policy that allows you to edit out fake, questionable, slanderous, or offensive reviews. You don’t want to delete bad reviews, if customers feel they can’t trust you, it’s unlikely they will buy from you. There is some debate as to whether reviews with poor english, bad grammar, or lack of keyword focus can do more harm than good from an on-page SEO perspective.

So if you decide to implement this strategy, do it on a limited basis and pay attention to how adding reviews affects your rankings. If you can see a direct correlation between adding the reviews to the page and a drop in rankings, move the reviews to an auxiliary page, and only show the aggregate review data on the product pages, as this gives you a lot more control over the content the search engines see.

Adding reviews isn’t without risks, but if you are aware of them, are on the lookout for the potential problems, and can clear the biggest hurdle of getting real customers to submit them, they are a valuable asset, and can definitely improve your click through rates in the SERP’s, and add value for existing and new customers.

Check out the rest of our SEO for Ecommerce blogposts.

Michael Gray

Michael Gray is an SEO specialist. Sometimes he feels like a bot, sometimes he doesn't.

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