From all indications, it looks like anonymous reviews no longer count towards the total rating for businesses on Google My Business. In some cases, anonymous reviews have disappeared completely from some pages on GMB.
This new move by Google closely tailors similar policies by local review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor which allows only registered users to submit reviews. There are whispers in certain circles that this crackdown is coming on the heels of Google’s announcement to crackdown on negative and fake reviews dropped by disgruntled employees to compromise the online reputation of certain businesses. A lot of business owners will agree that a high number of negative and fake reviews come from anonymous users that cannot be identified or tied to any legitimate Google account.
There are arguments that this development is a smart move by Google as allowing only authentic and registered users to drop reviews will result in more honest reviews being made and less overly critical reviews from users who for one reason or another had a less pleasant experience with the business.
On the part of the business, it helps to identify who is leaving a review, whether positive or negative as it allows the business acknowledge the positive reviews and provides an opportunity to make amends next time the dissatisfied customer comes around.
There is as yet no official word from the people at Google concerning this change, however it is clear that reducing the impact of anonymous reviews that can be hijacked by disgruntled employees, competitors and trolls would bring up GMB to the standard of other prominent review websites that already understand the need to protect businesses from unfair press and provide customers with a platform where they can freely speak their mind.
Having said that, if you notice that your business is still getting negative reviews from actual customers and registered users, chances are there is actually a real problem that needs to be addressed promptly. While both positive and negative reviews have several benefits to businesses, there has to be a balance otherwise your customers will be getting the wrong impression about your business. And when this happens, it is safe to say that there is no amount of Google updates that would be able to solve that problem for you.
Aaron Bradley of Semantic Search Marketing posted on Google+ that Google rich result testing tool now supports testing of structured data markup for movies, TV shows and events. He went further to state that he has conducted tests to confirm that the tool is able to validate TV, movie and event code and did provide a preview. So in addition to supporting job postings, recipes and course, it now also supports these three new additions.
The list now covers:
- Job posting
- TV and Movie
What are Google rich results?
There are different ways web pages can be used and even more ways to structure and code it. This can make it difficult for search engine crawlers to identify and understand what each web page is about. What rich results do is to highlight important information contained on a web page which will help search engines better understand the purpose of the page and so index it appropriately. This reduces the guesswork for Google bots and makes it easier for users to get the most relevant results.
Google rich results typically appear at the top of the search engine results page, in what is known as ‘position zero’ above the regular search results.
So what’s new?
Google rich results contain results that are different from the usual blue text links and this includes content such as images, carousels and other non text elements.
For example, if you make a search for “open mic night weekend”, you will get a result of related events happening close to your location as indicated by your device. Google is able to present the results you will see by reading the structured data markup of the relevant event pages. At your end, if you are hosting such an event, you will need to use the markup for your event to appear on Google’s rich results page.
What Google rich result testing tool does is to help website owners check that their structured data is correctly implemented so that their content can be featured in rich results for relevant search. Presently, Google rich result testing tool does not support every rich result markup, but additions are made on a regular basis. Using Google rich result testing tool to validate your markup data is the one sure way to tell if Google can read your markup.
Google’s structured data guidelines shows the different types of rich results and the best way to markup your content.