Google Updated its Local Reviews Guidelines

To have a successful local business, having a good internet marketing strategy is very important. And if you are getting reviews on it, be it good or bad… you’re going good. Because reviews help potential clients a lot in making mind, whether to go for the service offered by you or not; how you deal with customer queries and grievances. Customer reviews and your response towards them can make or break your business. Also, customer reviews can help in your search engine rankings.

Off lately, Google has made some changes in its algorithm which is related to local business reviews. And, this update indeed looks trouble to those who employ third party reviews. Primarily, this update is all about using schema markup on reviews.

Note : This update won’t affect the way you obtain the reviews or portray them on your website.

Okay, so what’s the big deal about using schema markup on reviews? Well, by marking up the reviews, they can be portrayed as ‘reviews’ to the search engine bots. With the markup, some impressive rich snippets can appear for your search engine results, that may boost your business and rankings.

Here are some highlights about it.

  • Snippets must not be written or provided by the business or content provider unless they are genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.
  • Reviews must allow for customers to express both positive and negative sentiments. They may not be vetted by the business or restricted by the content provider based on the positive/negative sentiment of the review before submission to Google.
  • Reviews cannot be template sentences built from data or automated metrics. For example, the following is not acceptable: “Based on X number of responses, on average people experienced X with this business.”
  • Reviews for multiple-location businesses such as retail chains or franchises can only be submitted for the specific business location for which they were written. In other words, reviews for multiple-location businesses cannot be syndicated or applied to all business locations of the same company.
  • Aggregators or content providers must have no commercial agreements paid or otherwise with businesses to provide reviews.
  • Do not include reviews that are duplicate or similar reviews across many businesses or from different sources.
  • Only include reviews that have been directly produced by your site, not reviews from third- party sites or syndicated reviews. (Source :


So, basically this algorithm update targets the paid reviews, aggregated content provided by third parties. And, this is indeed a good update from customer perspective. It is very important for the customers to know about the positive and negative things. And, webmasters who suppress negative comments should get alert after this update.