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How to Fix Review Schema Markup After Google’s Recent Changes?

A few days ago, Google announced that they are changing the way how they interpret Review Schema and display rich results. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, then Schema affects star-ratings in Google, amongst other things under the hood. If you’ve searched for a recipe, a restaurant, or a local business, then you’re probably familiar with how it looks. Here is an example image for a reminder.

Google Review Rich Snipept

Schema was introduced to help people make better decisions regarding what results to click, and also help search engines understand the context of a website. Well, in its latest update, Google is saying that some types of Schema does not help the user as intended. Specifically, Google is pointing towards the reviews.

The review Schema isn’t standalone; you have to have a review of something. Before this change was implemented, a review attached to any type of Schema used to trigger rich results. After this change, only a few schema type reviews will be able to trigger reviews. Here is the list, directly from Google’s blog post explaining the change.

Apart from that, Google also stated that it would stop showing rich results for self-serving reviews. Self-serving reviews simply cover any reviews that you create yourself or act in a way to create. This will affect mostly local business websites and websites of organizations. Let us explain this in detail.

Suppose that you are a local business that provides some services. On your website, you have pages for each of those services, and you use the review snippet to get rich results for your pages.

According to Google, since you are the one who created the review, it falls under self-serving reviews, and after the update, it will stop appearing as a rich result. The same things apply to websites that use the organization snippet type and add review snippets to their pages.

On top of that, if you use a 3rd party widget on your website (Yelp, Facebook, etc.) that add the review snippet to your pages, it still falls under self-serve and will not trigger rich results from now on.

Why is this change being introduced?

Google aims to present the most helpful results to its users, and if at any time, Google feels that some results aren’t delivering on that promise, then changes are made. This change is no different.

Reviews are supposed to help people make better decisions. But, if the reviews themselves can’t be trusted, the entire process breaks down. That is why this change is being introduced. Also, schema manipulation had also become common over the past few years. Since all it took for rich results to appear was a few lines of code, websites tried to get rewarded with more rich results—even if they didn’t deserve it. After all, if you can review yourself and give yourself 5 stars, it isn’t very useful, right?

To combat this problem and improve the quality of the search results, Google decided to introduce these changes.

Will I be affected?

If you are using old Review Schema type then you will be affected.

By affected, we do not mean that your rankings will disappear overnight. Instead, only the affected pages will lose their star ratings in the search results; the rankings will essentially remain the same. It might affect your search traffic somewhat, but if all your competitors had similar pages with similar Schema, they all would be affected too. However, if you have been trying to manipulate Schema, then it is a different story.

How to prepare for this change?

The first step is to identify if your website will be affected. Perform a content audit of your website and see if you are using ‘Review’ schema or not.

Once you’ve determined what needs to change, there are a few ways in which Rank Math can help.

How Rank Math can Help?

If you’re using Rank Math, then you already know that you can easily go into your individual posts and change the Schema that you use.

Change Schema Type

But, if you have hundreds, and even thousands of posts, this might not be practical. But, before we get into the details of how to change the Schema type, we must clear a few things.

Some people might be tempted to simply change the schema of their existing articles to one of those that trigger rich results. We would strongly recommend against that practice, as abuse of schema can trigger an algorithmic or a manual penalty. You might be able to get away with it for some time, but it is not worth losing all your rankings and get into Google’s bad books.

So here is how Rank Math is prepared for this change.

We’ve just released a brand new update (Latest version is available on wp.org) that introduces a couple of tools that can help you convert the Schema type of your articles. We would request you to update to the latest version if you’ve not already done so.

After this update, the Review Schema type Rich Snippet will no longer be available in the single post and pages.

Review Schema Type will be removed.

And, now all the other supported schema types will have the dedicated rating options.

Here is the list of Rank Math’s Schema types which supports rating options:

– Book– Course– Event
– Product– Recipe– Software Application

These changes should help you in using the correct Schema type for your new posts.

For existing posts, we recommend that you convert posts with the Review Schema to the Article Schema Type, unless it fits in one of those categories, which will trigger rich results anyways.

How to Convert Old Review Posts?

To convert your existing posts/pages into the appropriate schema, we’ve introduced 2 ways. The first method is the simple methods, in which you can convert all the posts to Article Type with the click of a button.

The second method is a little complicated, as you’ll need some experience with code to execute it. But, it does offer a great degree of control over what you can do. You can use this method if you want to convert review posts into some other Schema type. (Not Recommended)

Let us demonstrate both the methods to you.

1 – Easy Method

Convert all the old Review Schema posts into Article.

1 Head over to Rank Math Settings > Status and Tools.

Rank Math Status & Tools

2 You will reach the system status menu, and you should also see a Tools section on top. Click it open the existing tools.

Rank Math Tools

3 You should reach the tools section. Scroll to the bottom to find the “Content Review Schema into Article/BlogPost” option.

Convert Review Schema

If you click the button, Rank Math will convert all the blog posts on your website that use the Review schema type to the Article schema type. As we mentioned, this option is not customizable, but it can work for people who aren’t familiar with code.

You should see a notice on top of the screen asking you to confirm the change. Click OK to proceed.

The page will reload, and the change will be deployed. You should also see another notice on the top of the screen confirming the change with the link in it.

Review Schema conversion notice.

If you click the link, Rank Math will bring you to a page with a list of all the posts that were affected by the change. This way, you can make additional changes to these posts as needed without having to hunt them down.

Note: If you want to use Article or News Article instead of ‘Blog Post’ then before converting, please use below filter in your theme’s functions.php file.

/**
  * Filter to convert 'Article' type.
 *
 * @param string $type Article type. Default BlogPosting
 * @param int      $post_id Post ID.
 *
 * @return string
 */
add_filter( 'rank_math/convert_review/article_type', function( $type, $post_id ) {
    return $type; // Possible values BlogPosting, NewsArticle or Article.
});

Method 2 – Hard Option

The method we discussed above is quite simple — a single click, and you’re done. But, what do you do when you need some more control over the process, like, changing some other Schema type other than Article?

That is where the second method comes in. We’ve created a filter that you can use to convert posts from Review type of Schema to any other type of Schema.

1 Add below code into your theme’s functions.php file.

/**
  * Filter to convert review type.
 *
 * @param string $type Schema type. Default article
 * @param int      $post_id Post ID.
 *
 * @return string
 */
add_filter( 'rank_math/convert_review/type', function( $type, $post_id ) {
    return $type; // Possible values: book, course, event, product, recipe, software.
});

2 Click the ‘Convert’ button from Tools page (refer method 1)

This method is quite powerful, and if you feel comfortable using it, it can be used to manage your website’s Schema quite easily. However, there is one catch.

If you have used Schema before, you know that not all Schema types use the same type of data. For example, an event Schema might have a start date, but a book Schema might have ISBN information.

When the filter is used, it does change the Schema type used on the post, but it cannot change or update the metadata associated with the post.

Google doesn’t like incomplete Schema metadata, and it usually does not display star-ratings if few fields are missing. So, you can change all the Schema types on your website and still not show up in the rich results. Bummer.

Conclusion

First, consider what Schema types does your content actually fall in. Not all types of content need rich results, and constantly pushing for it might get your website penalized.

Second, when you do make changes to the Schema type, we highly recommend that you manually fill-in all the missing Schema data on the affected posts as, without it, all the effort of changing the Schema type will go to waste.

Frequently Asked Questions

I run a WooCommerce store and have a lot of product reviews which show up as rich results. Will they now disappear?

No. The update will only affect self-serving reviews. If the reviews on your website are from your customers, then you will not be affected.

I run an affiliate website where I review products available on other websites. Will I be affected?

That is unlikely. Since the products you review aren’t your own, they shouldn’t be qualified as self-serve. But you will have to update all old review posts according to new guideline changes.

Will I get a manual penalty if my website is not compliant?

No. Currently, there is no penalty for this at all. However, if your website’s pages appeared as rich results, they will go away.

Will this affect Google My Business profile and its appearance in the search results?

No, this update does not affect Google My Business profiles and affects organic search results only.

If I integrate reviews about my business from other websites (Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc.), will I be affected?

Yes. Even though the reviews are no your own, the embedding of the reviews still qualifies as self-serve in Google’s eyes. So, your website will not appear in rich results if that is the case.

If I review other businesses on my website, will I be affected by this update?

No. Since you are reviewing other businesses, you will not be affected by this update.

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