Simply put, organic stars are easy stars. Unlike displaying stars in Adwords - for which you have to qualify by collecting over 100 reviews in a 12 month period with a Licensed Review Partner - organic stars have fewer rules. As long as you have collected at least one review, you're eligible for organic stars in Google. But how do you get them to show?
The key to getting Google to display your reviews is through the use of Rich Snippets. Without them, reviews on your site will remain unseen in your Google listings.
'Rich snippets' is a term used to describe the structured data which can be added to your web page's HTML. Rich snippets allow a search engine - in this case, Google - to "read" your webpage and understand the type of information you're presenting. This can be done with all sorts of things, including authors, recipes and events - you've probably seen these types of listings in the SERPs yourself.
Review Rich Snippets are used on your website to tell Google that the content featured there is review-based. They're a specific type of snippet and contain review-specific information such as product SKU, star rating and a review comment. Google reads this content from your HTML and uses it to generate organic stars. Google will then take this information and display it underneath your product URL in the form of star-ratings.
Google will generally crawl your site every 7-14 days, so if you implement Product Review Rich Snippets, they will soon be detected by Google, making this a pretty quick and easy win.
There are two ways to go about setting up Product Review Rich Snippets:
If you have a team of developers on hand, it may be relatively easy for you to implement Review Rich Snippets yourself. However, what's often easy, less time-consuming and provides a cleaner, more polished result is using widgets provided by Review Platforms. The widgets will do all the work for you and often be stylised to make your reviews look pretty too.
It's worth noting that you'll need a Product Review Rich Snippet compatible widget.
Since September 2019, Google's criteria for Rich Snippets onyour site are listed in their Webmasters blog post.
Here's what Google have to say about it:
While, technically, you can attach review markup to any schema type, for many types displaying star reviews does not add much value for the user. With this change, we’re limiting the pool of schema types that can potentially trigger review rich results in search. Specifically, we’ll only display reviews with those types (and their respective subtypes):
Self-serving reviews aren't allowed for LocalBusiness and Organization
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.Add the name of the item that's being reviewedWith this update, the name property is now required, so you'll want to make sure that you specify the name of the item that's being reviewed.
What this essentially means is that, at least organically, Google have moved away from company review snippets and given more weight and value to product review rich snippets.
You can of course still get company review stars against your paid (Google Ads and Google Shopping) search results, but you'll need to used a licensed and closed review platform, like Reviews.io.
Reviews Rich Snippets are only going to work if Google can read them. We always recommend testing your Rich Snippets to ensure you reap their benefits. Testing is relatively easy to carry out in two ways.
Check Your CodeOne reason rich snippets won't work is if there are errors on your page. Go into your code, and check it's all correct and in order. One little oversight is not closing your code tags, which is so easily resolved. You can do so by putting your URL into WC3 Validator and it'll list any bugs which need fixing.
Google Testing ToolLastly, one great way to check your rich snippets are working correctly (after following the steps above) is to check it using Google's Structured Data Testing Tool. All you need to do is insert your webpage URL you have the rich snippet on and check it.
Product Review Rich Snippets are something we'd encourage everyone to take advantage of. Displaying reviews in Google has so many benefits, and Organic Stars are a tool everyone can get started with right away.