The internet has made it possible for many small businesses to reach their target audience, even when it’s local consumers. This can be a double-edged sword for consumers. There are more choices than ever, but it can be hard to make the right decision. One way consumers deal with this issue is to look for reviews. Google is making it easier for people to find reviews with a planned update for local search results.
Earlier this year, Google began including critic reviews for the businesses in local search results. While this was great news for businesses that had been reviewed by professional critics, it left out reliable, though not professional, reviews. To remedy this, Google will start including, “Reviews from the web” with aggregate review scores to showcase a more diverse range of reviews.
“Today, we’re introducing Reviews from the web to local Knowledge Panels, to accompany our recently launched best-of lists and critic reviews features,” the company wrote in a blog post this week. “Whether your site publishes editorial critic reviews, best-of places lists, or aggregates user ratings, this content can be featured in local Knowledge Panels when users are looking for places to go.”
The “Reviews from the web” brings aggregated user ratings of up to three review sites to Knowledge Panels for local places across many verticals including shops, restaurants, parks and more. These aggregate sources can include popular sites like Facebook reviews or even specialty sites, such as Trekaroo.
Business owners that want this aggregate score on their knowledge card will have to do some work to their site. First, they will need to implement the review snippet markup on their website, as well as meet Google’s criteria, before the site’s user-generated composite ratings will be eligible for inclusion. Website owners can add the Local Business markup tool to help Google match reviews to the right review subject.
As for reviews, Google is still sticking to mostly professional reviews from critics. According to Google, “critic reviews possess an editorial tone of voice and have an opinionated position on the local business, coming from an editor or on-the-ground expert”. For more information on which reviews qualify and how businesses can add this feature to their knowledge card, see the details on Google’s critic reviews page.
This is an important new feature for local marketing. Though it may take some time and effort to get a particular site in order, it’s worth it for the ability to quickly communicate important information about the quality of a business to local searchers. This new information can be viewed from mobile and desktop local search.
To learn more about the guidelines for the Reviews from the web, critic review and top places lists features, there is a lot of good information on Google’s developer site. And for more information about recent changes and updates to Google, read this article on Google’s plan for a Live carousel that business owners may also want to take advantage of.