As an SEO who works with a lot of local clients, one of the strategies that has really become important for our clients is the ability to add reviews to their website (and by extension star ratings), that show up in the search result listings. They way we achieve this is by using schema. Using schema markup code has a number of benefits, and having star ratings as rich snippets show up in the search results can greatly improve CTR and trust.
It’s been around a while, and there are a load of tutorials online on how to do it. Below I show two simple ways. One for the non techies (no code), and one for those who are happy to insert a bit of code, which is really easy also.
Below is an example:
Why don’t all websites use star ratings?
This is something I get asked all the time. “If it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone use them?” There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, even if you add the code, Google will still decide if it will show the rich snippet or not.
As a general rule, star ratings will not show for the home or root page of a site. I did see them show in the past, but it seems Google has decided it wont render them. You can still add local schema to the home page, but I normally leave the aggregate rating sections out. At times, the ratings will also not show up on inner pages. Generally we see this if a page doesn’t have enough supporting content to warrant the rating.
Even though there is a lot of information out there that show you how to do this, it’s another thing for webmasters to actually act. Even web design companies struggle with the concept somehow, and we even get told that it’s spammy. It’s certainly not spammy if done correctly, and in fact it’s encouraged by Google. This link gives you Google’s take on how it looks at structured data: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-structured-data
How to add Local Schema Structured Data to a web page or post
The two ways I’m going to show you are using a plugin, and by adding the code yourself. Both are simple. One costs a little bit, to purchase the plugin (but has a heap of other great features), and one is just adding code.
Using a plugin
Using a plugin to add your structured data is very simple. There are a few out there, but you need to be careful which one you use. The problem with plugins, is that if they are not updated regularly, they can become out of date quickly. This is the case a lot of the time with free plugins.
The plugin I use, and recommend is Project Supremacy. I’ve used pretty much every plugin out there for schema, and this in my opinion is by far the best. Again, the reason is not so much what it does (although it does a lot), it’s that the developers behind it time and again come up with the goods, and are legit. It’s updated all the time, and it simply works. Not only does is allow you to add schema quickly and easily, it also incorporates a heap of other features.
It’s actually a stand-alone SEO plugin, similar to Yoast or All In One SEO. I actually use it a lot for this purpose on sites I don’t use schema, so it’s a bit of a Swiss army knife. The other main feature which I haven’t used much is the project settings to do in-depth keyword research. Further to this, you can add affiliate products easily.
This video gives a bit of information from the sales page but it does explain very well, what the plugin actually does:
I’m not going to go into detail how to add schema with this plugin here. If you purchase it you’ll get a heap of training on how to use it to its best ability. This is probably in my 10 most-used plugins right now.
Using JSON Code
The best way, and Google approved way to use schema is using JSON code (BTW, the plugin above uses the approved code). There are a few free local schema generators online that can easily create the code. The two I recommend are Hall Analysis JSON-LD Schema Generator and Serpspace.com client generator.
I’ll use Serpspace here as an example. These guys also provide a range of services for local agencies and affiliate marketers, well worth checking out. To use the schema generator you can simply sign up for a free account.
Step 1: Generating the code
Step 2: Copying the code
Note: The two items that a few people get confused with are the “@id:” type, and the “sameAs” type.
@id: This is simply the URL of the actual page where the schema is to be added. i.e. a location page of a local website. The URL field is the site home page.
sameAs: This is other important third party network sites. These could include a Facebook page, local directory, Twitter, Instagram etc. It’s important that these are associated with the site where you are adding the schema.
Step 3: Editing the code
So you might notice that the code you’ve been provided has no “aggregate rating” type. This is the part of the code that needs to be added for the stars to show up. Project Supremacy has this as part of the build, but it doesn’t have the @id type. So either way, I normally edit the code manually in a notepad before. adding to a site.
So this is similar to the code you should now have:
The extra bit of code to add is this:
You can change the rating value and rating count to whatever you want. Be rational though. You want to make sure your are realistic with the ratings. What I also recommend is that you physically add real reviews to your site, or a least a link to your Google My Business page with reviews (and match them up), or a link to your testimonial page. There has been instances where sites have received a structured markup manual penalty by showing aggregate ratings without out any reviews shown or associated with the site.
You should add the above bit of code just after the last “sameAs” type, identical to the full code above.
Step 4: Adding to your site
If you’re using WordPress, you can simply add any plugins that allow you to add header and footer scripts. I like SOGO Add Script to Individual Pages Header Footer as you can add scripts per page. It’s also free.
Once you’ve added the plugin, at the bottom of each page in the dashboard editor you can add the code as per below. Don’t forget to hit save. Obviously, you only want to add the code on the page where you want the schema and aggregate ratings to show up.
Step 5 – Structured Data Testing Tool Verification
Once you’ve completed the addition of the code, you want to make sure the data is verified by Google. head over to https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool and add your page URL in the field and hit “run test”. If you get zero errors, you’re good to go. Google has just crawled the page, so it knows you have the schema added. If you get errors, there is a problem with the code (normally a simple typo). Adjust and test again until it is verified.
If you open up the Local Business tab you can see the verified code inside. Any error will also show up here, which will help you fix them.
How long does it take for the star ratings to show up in the search results?
Generally it will take 2 to 3 days for the star ratings to show up. Sometimes they won’t show up at all, and that is just the fickleness of how it works. 9 times out of 10 it does, and the increased CTR you’ll achieve will be worth the effort, especially if you are already ranked on page 1, and no other competitors have star ratings. It simply will draw users’ attention to your listing and they are more likely to click on the listing. The psychology of reviews is well tried and tested.
What Twitter Says!
— GetFiveStars (@getfivestars) September 10, 2017