Google Algorithm Change Aims to Make Review Rich Results More Helpful

author image Written by: Nicole McCormick           Categories - In The News

Google to No longer Display ‘Self-Serving’ reviews in SERPs for Local Business Schema

Big changes are in the air over at Google. The search engine giant has just announced that local businesses will no longer have the ability to push ratings from in-site reviews to their organic SERP results, citing them as “self-serving.” The announcement was made via Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, stating: “Search results that are enhanced by review rich results can be extremely helpful when searching for products or services (the scores and/or “stars” you sometimes see alongside search results). To make them more helpful and meaningful, we are now introducing algorithmic updates to reviews in rich results.” Review rating displayed in Google search results Source: Google

So, What Does This All Mean?

This means that Google will no longer display average star ratings as Review Rich Results from the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization. This will occur in instances where reviews for a particular business live on its website. The blog post added that this new change would help to address invalid or misleading implementations that webmasters had flagged to Google. According to Google, going forward, digital marketers should focus on schema types that lend themselves to reviews. Because while you can attach review markup to any schema type, for many, having star reviews does not add much value to the user, says Google. For this reason, Google is limiting the number of schema types that could potentially trigger review rich results in searches. Therefore, they will only show reviews with those types along with their respective subtypes. This includes:

  • org/Book
  • org/Course
  • org/CreativeWorkSeason
  • org/CreativeWorkSeries
  • org/Episode
  • org/Event
  • org/Game
  • org/HowTo
  • org/LocalBusiness
  • org/MediaObject
  • org/Movie
  • org/MusicPlaylist
  • org/MusicRecording
  • org/Organization
  • org/Product
  • org/Recipe
  • org/SoftwareApplication

Why Are These Changes Being Made?

Google considers reviews that are perceived as “self-serving” to not be in the best interest of users, which is why it will no longer display these types of reviews for the schema types LocalBusiness and Organization – along with their subtypes. So, when exactly would a review be considered ‘self-serving’? Google describes it as “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.” https://twitter.com/JohnMu/status/1173916963934019584

When Will These Changes Be Implemented?

So far, the changes have only just been announced, and no plans for implementing them are known. However, based on how quickly updates have been rolled out in the past, it’s estimated that we will see these changes made soon, and start to affect SERPs rather quickly.

Nicole McCormick

Nicole is a wordsmith wizard, passionate about the written word and an avid storyteller who uses creatively crafted prose to help bring your brand’s story to the next level. A former journalist with writing credits in both local and national news publications and a few newspaper awards under her belt, Nicole now enjoys telling your stories and finding new and creative ways to create valuable content that resonates with audiences in the digital landscape.

BERT Explained – Everything You Need to Know About Google’s Biggest Update in 5 Years


Major Google Algorithm Change to Affect 10% of all Search Inquiries

Google’s most significant update in 5 years is here and revolutionizing the way the search engine understands search terms and user intent, leading to more relevant results for users. Described as “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search,” Google’s recent major algorithm update, BERT, will affect complicated search queries that depend on context. This is estimated to be around 10% of all queries. Google officially started rolling out BERT the week of October 21 for English-language queries, including featured snippets. The algorithm change will soon expand to include all languages in which Google offers Search, however, there is currently no set timeline for this. https://twitter.com/searchliaison/status/1187732030399889409

What is BERT and How Does it Work?

BERT – which stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – is Google’s most recent development in machine learning. The algorithm includes bidirectional training of language models, resulting in a deeper understanding of language context and flow. This allows Google to process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one.

Source: Giphy

Here’s what Google had to say about it:

“These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding, particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results. Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning, Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural for you.” Overall, BERT improves the way Google understands users’ search inquiries along with intent, allowing them to provide more accurate results and featured snippets in less time. Here is an example of what search results look like both before and after BERT:

Comparing Google search results before and after BERT updateSource: Google

It’s also important to note that the new algorithm will work best for searches that consist of full sentences, encouraging users to come up with clearers, more conversational search terms.

How Will It Affect SEO?

Since the BERT Update was designed to improve how Google understands search queries, there will not be much impact when it comes to SEO. Google has consistently advised marketers to keep the user in mind and create content that satisfies their search intent. And because BERT helps Google to better interpret that intent, providing users with quality content that matches what they are looking for continues to be Google’s main recommendation. This means that it’s more important than ever to concentrate on producing content with strong, clear writing, rather than trying to strike a balance between creating content for your audience and writing for machines. In other words – write for humans, focus on using words in precise ways, and avoid sloppy content.

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