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The Ultimate Guide to Star Ratings in Google Search Results

Want more visitors to your site?

Of course you do. That’s why you need to be displaying star ratings on your Google search results snippet.

Like this:

That site stands out from the others on the page. It’s an important signal to searchers saying that the site is a good resource. And that motivates people to click.

How motivating is it?

Telapost, an SEO and content marketing agency, saw one client’s clickthrough rate increase by over 60% after they got a review snippet. That’s significant.

But how do you get star ratings for your site in the Google search results? Let’s walk through the process, step by step.

1. Get Reviews

This might seem obvious, but it’s an important step to consider. You need to get reviews before Google will display them.

Sounds easy enough, right? You have tons of places that you’re already getting reviews!

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Google has specific rules for which reviews can be used for your snippet. In summary, those reviews must

  • refer to a specific product or service,
  • be readily available on a page of your site,
  • not be on adult-related products or services,
  • have valid reviewer names, and
  • be collected directly from your website and not aggregated from a third-party service

Doesn’t sound too bad—but the specifics are slightly more complicated. We’ll get to that in a moment.

The important part to note here is that you need reviews on your website. And they need to be displayed on one of your pages. Your Google business or Yelp reviews don’t count. You need to have a star rating (or another rating system) displayed on one of your pages.

That means collecting more reviews.

Get People to Review Your Business, Products, and Services

So how do you get more reviews for your business, products, or services?

In short, your best bet is to ask people. If you’re doing good business, your customers will be happy to leave you positive reviews. But you still need to ask them. Here are a few ideas on how you might do that:

  • Include a link on emailed receipts, invoices, or newsletters.
  • Encourage customers to rate and leave reviews on product pages with an on-page call to action.
  • Post a link in your social media profiles.
  • Email a link a week or so after a customer makes a purchase.
  • Send thank-you emails to customers who leave reviews.

There are tons of ways you can get more reviews. But you’ll need to be purposeful about it.

Getting reviews helps you grow your business in other ways, too. So you benefit twice.

Important Rules to Follow

Remember that Google’s guidelines require that the reviews be on a single product or service. Do they always enforce this? Maybe. You might be able to get away with reviews of your business instead of a specific offering.

Just know that you might lose your review snippet because of it.

It’s also important to remember that the reviews on your page need to be first-party reviews. That means they need to be collected directly from your website, and not aggregated from somewhere else.

2. Display the Reviews on Your Website

Once you’ve gotten at least a handful of reviews, you’ll need to display them on your website.

There are a few ways you can do this. The first—and more difficult way—is to manually code them into your pages. Whenever you get a new review (however you collect them), you’ll need to go into your CMS, add the review to your page, and mark it up.

We don’t recommend this method. It takes a lot of time, especially if you’re collecting a lot of reviews. And ideally, you will be.

It’s worth noting that some WordPress plugins, like WP SEO Structured Data Schema, make the process easier. But you’ll still have manual work to do.

Third-party apps are the way to go here. Well-known services like TrustPilot and Yotpo offer review-collecting and -displaying capabilities, but they’re expensive. They support the markup you’ll need, but paying for them might not be in your budget.

That’s one of the reasons we love offering the widget to display reviews at a very affordable price.

Whichever service you use, you’ll need to get it set up to display those reviews.

In addition to reviews, you’ll also want to display ratings. That’s what Google is looking for, and what will get you the stars in your search result snippet.

To keep things simple, we recommend including a five-star rating scale. You can use any rating scale you want. But a five-star scale makes the markup process easier.

Once you have your reviews and ratings displayed on your page, you’re ready to make sure that you’re providing Google with the right information.

3. Check Your Schema Markup

You have to tell Google where the reviews are on your page. This requires some basic markup knowledge—or an app that takes care of it for you.

Most reputable review aggregators and displays do this.

Even if your service inserts the schema markup automatically, it’s a good idea to double-check.

We’ll go over some of the basics here. But it’s best to get the full documentation straight from Google. You can even play around with their structured data testing tool:

As you can see, you’ll need to make sure that each part of the review has a specific HTML tag from Schema.org.

This is why we don’t recommend displaying and marking up your reviews manually. It’s a lot to remember.

If you’re missing any of the markup, Google won’t know how to read the review. And that reduces the chance that you’ll get your ratings in the search results.

In addition to the Schema.org markup in the image above, you have two other options. There’s RDFa and JSON-LD markup as well.

Don’t know what that means? Don’t worry. Unless you’re doing it manually, you don’t need to. Even using a WordPress plugin will take care of this automatically for you.

Tell Google About Your Business

You’ll also need to include markup to tell Google about your business. You probably already have this information on your website, but it’s good to double-check.

Make sure that information like your company name, the type of business you do, your address, and contact information are displayed prominently on your website. It’s best to include this information in the footer so it’s on every page.

This is an important trust signal both for Google and for visitors to your site, so it’s a good idea to do it anyway.

The LocalBusiness schema markup includes fields for the information you include. Make sure that you fill out as many of the fields as possible.

Once you’ve done this, the rest is up to Google!

Best Practices to Get Your Ratings Listed

Just because you follow these steps doesn’t mean that Google will immediately display your star ratings in the search results. It might take a while. It might not happen at all.

But there are a few things you can do to make it more likely.

Follow the Rules

This might go without saying. But if you break Google’s rules, they’re very unlikely to include your star ratings on your search results. Read over their documentation for review snippets.

If you’re not sure about a particular rule, do what you can to follow it.

Don’t Put Reviews on Your Homepage

Review snippets are meant for individual products and services. Putting reviews on your homepage makes it look like you’re sharing reviews of your company as a whole.

And while that’s useful for building trust with visitors, Google doesn’t like it. It’s also possible that the schema markup won’t work correctly.

So stick with reviews on product and service pages.

Update Your Site Regularly

If Google knows that you update your site often, it’ll check back more frequently. Which means you’ll get up-to-date ratings in your snippets.

That’s valuable, especially when you’re just getting started. Searchers don’t just look at star ratings. They also look at how many people have rated your product or service. The more, the better.

So you want Google to update your ratings sooner rather than later. And frequent updates will make that happen.

If you’re running an ecommerce store, that might mean adding and updating products often. On other kinds of sites, it might be useful if you have a blog or a new page.

And that can also help with our final piece of advice:

Increase Your Domain Authority

This heading makes the process sound easy. But it can be quite difficult. And it takes time. But higher Domain Authority (DA) means that you’re more likely to get star ratings on your Google search results.

If you’re not familiar with Domain Authority, it’s basically a measure of how much Google values your website. (Here are the details on Domain Authority from Moz, the company that calculates DA.)

It’s determined by many different factors, including

  • the number of links pointing to your site,
  • the quality of content you post,
  • social sharing signals, and
  • SEO-friendliness.

There may be other factors, as well. But the most important is your backlink profile. If you have trustworthy sites linking to your pages, you’ll increase your DA.

Increasing your Domain Authority has lots of other benefits. You’ll rank higher in the search results. You’ll get more traffic. Google is more likely to display your content in their featured snippets.

It’s just better all around.

But it takes a lot of work. You’ll need to publish great content and get a lot of backlinks.

According to Moz, your best bet is to “improve your overall SEO.” And focus on getting more links.

Take the Time to Get Your Ratings Displayed

At this point, you’re probably wondering if having your star ratings displayed in the Google search results is worth the effort.

It’s easier than it seems. If you’re using a review aggregator or another service that helps you display ratings on a product or service page, the details are taken care of.

But following best practices still takes some time.

So is it worth it?

Yes. Absolutely.

Social proof is one of the strongest signals to searchers that your site is worth going to. If people see that others like your site, they’re more likely to go there. It’s rooted in human psychology.

You may not see a 60% increase in your clickthrough rate. But you can count on getting more clicks.

So take the time to make sure Google knows how great your products and services are. It’s worth your time!