Schema.org was developed via collaboration between the planets top search engines in an attempt to devise a method of categorising and identifying information about different websites.
I’ve encountered many local business that haven’t yet adopted the revolutionary features offered by the schema.org movement. Therefore, I’ve highlighted possibly the most eye catching area of schema markup that your local business could easily utilise to stand out in localised search results – review markup.
Showcase your Reviews and Testimonials
I’m a huge fan of schema protocols, however in the last year I’ve seen review markup used incorrectly all too often. Because it is so simple to implement, businesses and individuals have been (and are still) attempting to promote a positive impression of themselves by falsifying review data and implementing it onto various pages across their site. However, Google aren’t stupid, and will eventually catch out any websites misleading search engine users by demoting their websites rankings. Google’s thoughts on reviews are simple: don’t lie or mislead with your reviews. You’ll get penalised for falsifying reviews from third parties on your own site or on other sites, so don’t do it.
Adding Reviews to your Website
Adding reviews to your own website is fairly simple. If you’re using WordPress, I’d advise that you use the Schema Creator plugin by Raven Tools. If you don’t use WordPress and feel you need to hand code your reviews due to platform limitations, there are a few sites that can help you. I have found the following sites quite helpful when hand coding reviews for some of my clients:
Inputting review text and numerical ratings into any of the tools above will result in the generation of a snippet of code for you to place on your web page. I will now run through an example of how to use Microdata to add an aggregated set of reviews to your website.
Using Microdata to Input Reviews on your site
Firstly, you will need to calculate an average rating for your current reviews. For example, if you had 120 reviews of various values, you will need to divide the sum of all 120 of your reviews by the number of reviews you have (120). This should give your product/service an average rating, which can be marked up using Microdata like the example in the image below:
(Example from: http://schema.org/AggregateRating)
I have highlighted the important sections from the above example so that you’re aware of the areas that will need to be edited once you’ve worked out the aggregate rating of your product/service. Firstly, you’ll need to edit the type of business (restaurant) to relate to your own. You can find a full list of the types of business available at schema.org. You’ll then need to enter your business name (great food), aggregate rating (4), and the number of reviews the aggregate rating is based on (250). Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to insert this snippet of code onto the appropriate product or service page that the reviews correspond to, and ensure that you test the code is working by using Google structured data testing tool.
Of course, Schema reviews aren’t a quick fix for poor site architecture and SEO, and they certainly won’t improve your rankings. They will, however, help your organic listings in the search results stand out – which is important as more and more sites compete for visibility and clicks in certain industries.
In my experience, too many companies worry excessively about their position within the first 5 search results for their target keywords. However, I’d argue that a listing in position 3 that’s correctly marked up with positive customer reviews will attract more attention than a listing without review mark up in position 1. Therefore, I’d encourage you to utilise schema mark up wherever possible to make your site stand out from competitors in the search engine results pages.