Digital Publishing Platforms
3 mins read

Google updated its structured data requirements for review content

Affiliate ecommerce is becoming an increasingly important revenue area for publishers and changes Google made recently to the structured data requirements it applies to product review content could hurt publishers that don’t conform. Review content that fails to follow new guidelines could miss out on rich results in related keyword searches, losing out on traffic and ultimately revenue.

Takeaways

  • Leading publishers have been ramping up their ecommerce efforts over the last 18 months.  Future Publishing’s recent runaway success has been largely due to growing its affiliate ecommerce business, generating $1 billion in sales for retail partners across 2020.
  • With affiliate ecommerce activity being driven primarily by product review content, the strongest possible presence in search results pages is crucial. That means that publishers need to carefully consider any changes Google makes to its review structured data requirements.
  • Failing to meet the new requirements could stop review content generating rich results in search engine results pages (SERPs). Without rich results, including star ratings, review content will feature less prominently in related keyword searches, costing publishers traffic, reducing referrals and associated affiliate revenue.

Review categories

Not all reviews qualify for rich results, but review structured data requirements apply to review content across a range of 17 categories. Review structured data categories include books, courses, events, local businesses and products.

  • Google uses structured data to understand the content on the types of webpage specified. Publishers improve their chances of appearing against relevant search queries with ‘richer features’ in search results by providing specific information in the specified format.

On using structured data Google says:

You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page… by including structured data on the page.

  • Most search structured data uses vocabulary developed by Schema.org, a collaborative, community creating, maintaining and promoting schemas for structured data on the Internet. However, Google makes it clear that publishers should rely on its own Google Search Central documentation as definitive for Google Search behaviour.

Latest change

The specific change that Google has made recently doesn’t seem to be particularly significant, but failing to adapt content to suit the requirements could have a major impact on the search results potential customers will see.

  •  Google has added the requirement that the author name field – author.name – must be less than 100 characters to be eligible for use in Search features. If it is longer than 100 characters, Google says your page won’t be eligible for an author-based review snippet.
  • Roger Montti, writing on SearchEngine Journal, points out that although Schema.org recognises a special mechanism for indicating authorship via the rel tag, Google is free to set whatever requirements it considers necessary to deliver rich results in its SERPs.
  • His advice to any publishers that use review structured data is to consider reviewing their implementation, specifically the author structured data property to make sure that it is under the 100-character limit. Doing so should keep reviews eligible for rich results, increasing visibility, traffic and revenue.

Where properly structured review data is missing, whether that is author’s name, item review or ratings, the search engine results page will simply not show the complete review result. Keeping up with the guidelines should keep reviews eligible for rich results, increasing visibility, traffic and revenue.

This piece was originally published in Spiny Trends and is re-published with permission. Spiny Trends delivers updates and analysis on the industry news you need to stay on top of if you’re running a media and publishing business. Subscribe to a weekly email roundup here.