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Spammy Structured Data Error Messages Being Sent March 2017

Lawyers all over the planet have review stars displaying in Google search results. They accomplish this by adding structured data to their site. Over the last two weeks I have been noticing the review stars missing in Google search. Shortly after writing about the review stars missing in March 2017, I was sent this error message from someone below which they received from Google Search Console team:

Screenshot of a spammy structured data message

It reads:

Spammy structured data for http://www.domain.com/ might be dropped from search results

To: Webmaster of http://www.domain.com/,
Google has detected structured markup on some of your pages that violates our structured data quality guidelines. In order to ensure quality search results for users, we display rich search results only for content that uses markup that conforms to our quality guidelines. This manual action has been applied to steerslawfirm.com/ . We suggest that you fix your markup and file a reconsideration request. Once we determine that the markup on the pages is compliant with our guidelines, we will remove this manual action.

Here’s how to fix this problem:

1 Update your markup to follow our structured data guidelines

Fix erroneous markup or remove markup that does not accurately represent the content of your page.

2 Submit a reconsideration request.

Once you fix your site, file for reconsideration to remove this manual action. Include any details or documentation that can help us understand the changes made to your site.

Will this affect my SEO?

No. Websites losing their stars in search simply lose their stars. Rankings are not affected. Simply scrap the code and let Google know it is fixed.

How are my competitors getting away with it?

Google has only hit a handful of sites using review markup. I have no idea why. This is what perpetuates the problem. Of course, if the site beside you is doing it and getting all the traffic, you are forced to do it as well. Google really needs to fix their problem instead of making it the problem of thousands and thousands of others.

Why are review stars considered “spammy” structured data?

I wrote here long ago that adding stars to search which people could not add to are “probably” considered spam.

Google’s structured data guidelines simply do not provide a yes or no answer.

I also predicted here that Google would likely “fix” this in 2017.

My thought is: if people can’t leave you a review ON the page, why should you have a 5 star rating displayed in search results? If that were the case, anyone could have a 5 star rating in search simply by inserting some code onto their site. Reviews should be aggregated by users, not controlled by webmasters.

Search results are still filled with review stars

This is still a huge glaring problem Google needs to fix. If you play by the rules you get no stars. Plenty of people still have review stars displaying. In some industries the phone calls that come in can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I believe many people, once they get their manual actions removed will be back with a different type of structured data to get their stars to display in search results.

As long as competitors are able to display stars, other people will want to display them as well.

Len

President at Telapost
I create content and do SEO for law firms, small businesses and companies worldwide. I have been generating traffic online since 1992. I have owned multiple successful companies. I'm an organic eater, nature lover and German Shepherd owner. Feel free to contact me here.
3 Comments
  1. hi
    i used a plugin for wordpress that give all articles 5star itself
    so google removed all stars from all article after i recived this email from google
    they dont drop me from search result ?
    in must search result im 1 in google for the good article .. i will drop to another pages becuase of this ?

    • Hi Ali,

      1. You will need to delete that plugin or find one which Google doesn’t dislike.
      2. Once the issue is corrected, tell them with a reconsideration request and they will lift the penalty in 3 or 4 days.
      3. I have never seen this negatively impact SEO or rankings in search results. This issue only affects stars displaying or not displaying.

      Thanks,
      Len

  2. Hi I have been hit the similar penalty, have you been able to fix it. Help would be much appreciated

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