You’ve probably seen more and more rich snippets sneaking in the SERPs over the past year or so. For example, if you’ve searched for a product or service recently, chances are you’ve seen reviews tied to specific websites. More to the point, you’ve probably seen a star rating appear under certain results.
Whether or not the review is 5/5 stars of 2/5, your eye is drawn to these extra graphics in the SERPs, and you start to form opinions about that product or service before even clicking on the result. In some cases, you may avoid the product altogether if you see that all the ratings are really low. As you can see, these star ratings can have a big influence over the way people see your company if you know how to implement them the right way.
That’s why they could be a powerful tool for reputation management. There are two ways you can get these rating stars to appear in the SERPs, and you have the power to influence how they appear on the page. So let’s dive in.
Paid search (PPC) is not usually something we explore in reputation management, generally because there isn’t a whole lot of competition for your brand name. However, use can use paid search ads to get these little reviews to appear in the results.
Google has partnerships with tons of online review sites, like bizrate.com, yelp.com, and others. When you create a PPC campaign and you give Google the linking URL, Google automatically searches through its own and its partners’ reviews to find reviews related to the URL given. If it finds reviews, it aggregates them, averages the 5-star rating and posts the average star rating in the SERP along with the total number of reviews given.
However, only use this strategy if you know your reviews are stellar across a multitude of sites, or it could backfire on you.
The second way to implement star ratings is to implement microdata on your site for rich snippents. Microdata is a language you can add to your site that gives Google information about your site. It can be used to tell Google who wrote a blog post (so their picture appears in the SERPs), pricing on products (so the price appears in the SERPs), or even upcoming events (so the dates appear in the SERPs). And they can give Google informaiton about the reviews on the page so it can display a star rating in the SERPs.
Although it is too lengthy (and technical) to go into here, you can find specific markup at Schema.org that you can use to implement on your websites so that Google can easily find your reviews and display them.
After you’ve implemented the code, Google will generally recognize all the reviews on a page, average the star rating, and make it appear in the results. Since you are implementing the code on your site, you control what Google sees and what it doesn’t, which makes it extremely easy to give yourself a 5-star rating.
However, keep in mind that most of the people searching for your name in the SERPs are looking for information about you, not edited reviews by you. If they see 5-stra rating across the board, they’ll be much less likely to believe that the reviews are real—even if you have collected them from real customers. So, make sure you publish a variety of reviews on your site to make it seem less biased and more natural. In the SERPs, people are much more likely to click a link with a star rating of 4/5 than 5/5.
Of course, getting the reviews to appear is the last step of the process. First you have to get people to review you on multiple sites and submit reviews to your website as well. But once you done that, implementing the microdata (or buying PPC ads) is the step that will make those reviews appear in the SERPs—hopefully to the benefit of your online reputation.