Google Clarifies Benefits of Third Party Reviews on Websites

September 17, 2018

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Many websites feature embedded third party reviews from sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook, and they’re placed on specific pages such as a business’s location page.

But according to Google’s senior webmaster trends analyst, those reviews don’t help increase the rank of the page.

However, it might still provide some benefits in other ways.

Google’s Official Verdict for Third Party Reviews

John Mueller, the Google senior webmaster, wrote on Twitter that from an SEO standpoint, embedding third party reviews on your site won’t add or detract any SEO value to that page.

This means that adding third party reviews to a web page won’t allow you to leapfrog the original source in SERP rankings.  

Mueller explained that the original source (Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc.) of the review would still rank higher in search engines, which makes sense. You can’t take another site’s content and use it to climb the search rankings.

google third party review rules

It’s worth noting that Mueller’s comment applies to third party reviews but not first party reviews. Speaking of which…

First vs. Third Party Reviews

The difference between first and third party reviews is simple.

First party reviews are reviews you collected for your business’s site or products. For example, you might ask customers to leave a review on your website for your service. Third party reviews, on the other hand, are ratings and feedback gathered on sites such as Yelp and Google.

If you want your business page to rank higher, you’ll need to gather some feedback directly on your site in the form of first party reviews. More on that later.

The Main Value of Third Party Reviews: User Experience

They might not provide SEO value to your site, but third party reviews are still useful as context. Testimonials, ratings, and reviews all help bring legitimacy to your site’s product or service offerings.

Research shows that 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews in the same vein as personal recommendations. High scoring ratings can also bring in more customers. Our own survey shows that 80 percent of customers trust 4.0-, 4.5-, and 5-star ratings.

Highlighting these high scores can bring in more customers and a higher revenue.

Another Value of Third Party Ratings: Review Site Exposure

When posting reviews, variation is key, at least in terms of sources. You don’t want to just show Yelp reviews. It’s important to show that you have an online presence across multiple review sites.

Showing the source of each review might also entice customers to visit those sites and leave their own ratings. At the very least, it also exposes them to a wider gamut of reviews.

Caveat: Schema Markup and On-site Reviews

Adding third party reviews on your website is fine so long as it isn’t marked up as structured data, a.k.a. schema markup.

This is because Google’s structured data guidelines only allow you to use review markup for first party reviews that you collect. Check out our handy guide for an easy way to implement review widgets onto your site.

Generating First Party Reviews

You can get reviews on your website in the same way that you receive ratings and reviews on Google or Facebook.

Use a review request template to ask loyal customers for reviews. For new customers, you can simply ask them to leave a review. Research shows up to 70 percent of customers will leave a review if you ask them to do so.

With review management software like ReviewTrackers, you can automate your review collection, making it easier to earn more reviews and embed first or third party feedback on your site.

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