I'm a huge fan of schema protocols. I love the discipline of structuring data and showing Google exactly what I want them to index, and exactly how I want it to look.
My last article outlined implementing schema address markup on your website. This article is going to go through how to add reviews to your site using schema structured data markup.
Here's the kicker. A review is a review, be it from a third-party reviewing your products or from you as you review products you use and recommend (or don’t recommend).
Google's thoughts on reviews are simple: don’t lie or mislead with your reviews. If you're a compensated reviewer, you need to say so. If you're writing a review for a product you use, say so. You'll get nailed falsifying reviews from third parties on your own site or on other sites, so don’t do it.
I've had great luck with reviews on my hobby blog. I review products I use, I am clear that the information is my review, and I have achieved really nice rankings using structured data markup for reviews.
Adding reviews to your own website is fairly simple. If you're using WordPress, definitely use the Schema Creator plugin by Raven Tools. If you don’t use WordPress, you can use a tool to mark up the data and add it to your site.
If you're adding reviews to your site and want third parties to post those reviews, your best bet is to find a platform plugin that will handle that structure. You could hand code all of the reviews, but that seems like busywork.
If you use WordPress, use the WP Customer Reviews plugin. It's easy to use and will format reviews with hReview format. It's not Schema, but it does the trick. Please share other plugins you've had success with in the comments below.
If you need to hand code your reviews due to platform limitations, there are a few sites that can help you. You can try one of these:
- Microformats.org hReview Creator
- MicrodataGenerator.com's Review Feature
- Schema-Creator.org's Review Schema Creator
Plugging your review text and ratings into any of these tools will result in code for you to place on your page. Keep in mind that each will likely require some special formatting tweaks depending upon how your site's coding handles the data.
As always, run each and every tweak to the code on your pages through the Structured Data Testing tool from Google. A missing slash, coma, caret, or something similar can cause your entire set of structured data to become un-validated.
Let's walk through adding a review to your site using the Schema-Creator.org tool. It's my favorite version and is very easy to use. You're welcome to use whatever version works best for your situation and website.
First, be sure it's clear on your site and in the content of the page what type of review this is. Is this a third-party review? Is it your own review? Is it compensated or uncompensated?
If you're doing an uncompensated personal review, check out how I've done it on this blog post. You need to state and make very clear the motivation for your review. I can't emphasize this enough.
Next you'll need to create the review and surround it with the correct markup. With Schema-Creator.org, this is as easy as filling out a form.
You're then given a preview of how the review looks:
As well as the code to paste into your site:
Now you can place the code into your site and make adjustments to help the content look "right" in the page. I know with WordPress you must paste this in in the HTML view window. Pasting it in the visual editor window leaves all of the code in and it looks very messy.
You can also add in line breaks in the code by adding <br> wherever you desire a break. This also needs to be done in the HTML and doesn’t work if you add it in the visual editor. You can see this review, live on the page as written, here.
As I said, this is a way to add reviews to your site without a lot of trouble and having to code each section line by line. You can do it that way, but why?
The star translation you'll see in search results comes from the structured data coding. Google will translate the 4.5/5 into a 4½ star rating. It will appear in the search results as stars, not just numbers. Something like this:
Schema isn’t a Band-Aid for poor site architecture and SEO. You won't circumvent those problems with schema markup if you have them, but you will help your organic listings in the search results stand out – which is important as more sites compete with you for visibility and clicks.