If it’s your first time hearing about rich snippets you may want to read up at microformats.org first. In general though, rich snippets allow webmasters to influence the display of their website’s listings in search engines.
Rich snippets have been around since 2009, but up until recently only a few websites could actually benefit from them. Previously, Google required webmasters to submit rich snippet request forms through its webmaster tools before anything would display differently in search results. Recently though Google has removed the manual approval process for hReview and other rich snippet code. This opens up many new exciting opportunities for both webmasters and SEO professionals.
hReview is arguably the most important rich snippet because it can pull reviews from your website and display them as stars under your search listings. Richard Baxter from SEO Gadget noticed a 5% CTR increase to his website after implementing hReview and obtaining stars in search results. 5% is an attractive number considering it takes all of five minutes to install the code.
To get the code for your website you can try the hReview Creator tool at microformats.org or simply use a template (I didn’t have much luck with the hReview Creator tool personally). Here is an example code template I drew up for my company, Evolve Creative Group.
<span>Evolve Creative Group </span>
Reviewed by <span class=”reviewer”>Susie Smith </span> on
Jan 31<span class=”value-title” title=”2012-01-31″></span>
<span>Thank you for being a great partner and delivering a world-class website.</span>
<span>After an extensive web agency search, we selected Evolve Creative Group and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. Todd Bertsch and his team demonstrated a passion and commitment to our project from the very first phone call.</span>
This code can be placed anywhere within the body section of your source code. Make sure to use Google’s rich snippet testing tool to ensure that everything is set-up correctly.
Review stars will undoubtedly make your website more prominent in search results, but you need to be careful with how you use them or you risk getting your website penalized (unlikely) or having the snippet disappear altogether. Google’s guidelines for the hReview rich snippet state:
- The main topic of the page needs to be about a specific product or service. For example, using review markup on a page containing multiple products is not supported.
- Review of adult-related products or services are not supported.
- If the markup contains a single review, the reviewer’s name needs to be a valid name (person or Organization). For example, “50% off until Saturday” is not a valid name for a reviewer.
Google also has a rich snippet spam report form that states, “a rich snippet promoting a travel package as an event or displaying fabricated reviews would be considered spam.”
Google’s first guideline is the most confusing for many because it’s open to so much interpretation. My company could argue that our homepage is about a specific service (web design), but would Google see it the same way? Denmonlaw.com from the example above has simply moved a review from their testimonial page onto their homepage and incorporated hReview.
Assuming the review is legitimate I don’t see any issues with this practice. Only time will tell the future of this new open-ended system, but for now, we should all be taking advantage of this incredible opportunity while it’s still available. What do you think about moving a few testimonials to the homepage to benefit from hReview?