The other day a client asked me “My competitor has a 5 star rating displaying in Google’s search results and it really stands out, can we do that on my site?”
Spam vs Real Star Ratings
A review site, such as Yelp, or a page where people vote on apple pie recipes, should display a star rating.
Normal websites that are not interactive or actually providing a review of some sort should not. Doing so is considered webspam.
This is what a spam result looks like (modified to protect the spammer):
This business in particular added “product” structured data markup code to their site to get this search result.
Sometimes, when websites utilize structured data, search engines will display “rich snippets” or extra snippets or tidbits of information in search results.
What is structured data?
Structured data is for helping search engines understand content. There are a variety of “rich snippets” Google displays in search, such as a star rating. To see a good example of this, search for “apple pie recipe”. Search results display user’s ratings, and the cook time for a recipe, and sometimes a picture or more information.
Rich Snippet Spam
Google has done a pretty good job cleaning up the web, but some sites still exist in search that get away with rich snippet spam, such as our example at the beginning of this article.
Most sites that are spamming put the structured data in their HTML, making it machine readable, but invisible to the human visiting the page.