In March 2015 I wrote about star ratings in Google search. I concluded at the time that said star ratings, or rich snippets, were spam. The rich snippets are the star ratings which are a result of structured data / Schema code on your website. (This applies to business websites offering a service- think dentists, chiropractors, attorneys, etc.)

What is an aggregated review?

Sometimes people, mostly attorneys, use rich snippets in Google search as an effort to increase CTR (click through rate). Below are rich snippets for both a page using aggregated reviews and one with a single review:

aggregated review example

Review snippets seen in Google search February 16 2016.

Do aggregated reviews for services cause penalties?

I recently spent several hours trying to answer this question. I reached out to multiple people who study semantic search. Nobody had a great answer.

I am trying to figure out precisely what Google does or does not allow for structured data markup for aggregated reviews.

My question was- are these websites implementing aggregated Schema reviews code correctly or are they eligible for a penalty?

In the examples above, the Schema markup is used on a single page and not site wide. Could it be used site wide?

Google’s Rules are not clear cut

Google’s pages are a bit confusing on this topic, especially when local business pages are offering services. Technically, the Schema markup used in this scenario is for “products”.

The only thing Google has to say about this aggregate ratings markup is how to use it.

Conclusion: Aggregated ratings should “probably” not be used for local business services

This page doesn’t explicitly state that reviews may NOT be used on services, but it does state which structured data MAY be used.

The data Google lists which MAY be marked up for local businesses:

  • data to describe the business
  • location
  • contact information
  • hours of operation

For more information on marking up these specific bits of information see my article on JSON-LD for Schema Markup.


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