Back in September 2019, Google announced that self-serving reviews are no longer allowed on search engine results.
Here is what Google said on its official blog:
Self-serving reviews aren't allowed for LocalBusiness and Organization
Reviews that can be perceived as “self-serving” aren't in the best interest of users. We call reviews “self-serving” when a review about entity A is placed on the website of entity A - either directly in their markup or via an embedded 3rd party widget.
If you want to know what are self-serving reviews, there are some website where you can buy reviews for Google.
If you want to know how to add them back with Google Tag Manager, you are in the right place.
Implementing reviews on search engine results can increase your odds to achieve a better CTR, which in turns translates into more clicks for your website.
Another benefit is that it captures more real estate in SERP and altogether it gives you a competitive advantage.
In this guide, I am going to show you how to add, test and validate reviews schema code on any web page without the need of a developer or any coding knowledge!
How to implement review rich snippets using Google Tag Manager
Before we start, it's important to note this from Google:
When Google finds valid reviews or ratings markup, we may show a rich snippet that includes stars and other summary info from reviews or ratings.
This means that even if your reviews have been implemented correctly, Google might not show them. More on this at the end of the guide.
Step 1: Ensure that your reviews are honest and accurate
The first step is simple; your on-page content structure needs to meet Google's guidelines for reviews rich snippet results to be shown within SERPs for your website.
Below is a screenshot of what you should and shouldn't do:
Step 2: create the HTML code
Now it is time to create the actual code needed for the reviews to appear within SERPs.
Google said in their technical guidelines that they prefer reviews in Aggregate Rating:
Make sure to mark up an aggregate evaluation of an item by many people with schema.org/AggregateRating. Google may display aggregate ratings as rich snippets or, for certain types of items, answers in search results.
Overall the code for review schema is super easy to create; you just need to ensure the reviews are not fake.
Rich reviews code example:
<h3 style="text-align:center;">Don't just take our word for it</h3> <br> <aside style="text-align:center;"> <img src="https://www.YOURWEBSITE.uk/uploads/images/YOURTRUSTPILOTREVIEWS" alt="YOUR IMAGE ALT TAG"> <div class="aside-panel review-count"> <span class="stars"></span> <div class="hreview-aggregate"> <div class="item"> <span class="fn">YOUR WEBSITE URL |</span><span class="count"> 492</span> reviews | <span class="average rating">4.8</span> out of 5 </div> </div> </div> </aside>
When creating your own HTML code you will have to change the above elements to adhere to your on-page reviews copy.
I have added an image tag in the code, so you can also show the number of total reviews in an image, maybe if you use TrustPilot for example, you can download an image from your own account:
This is the image that will appear on the page.
Implementing schema through Google Tag Manager is not the ideal method. It should be done at a template level, especially if you are looking to scale this across hundreds of pages.
However, I recommend using this method if your developers have a backlog of fixes to get through, or you have restricted access to the development platform. I have found that this method of implementation can usually end up being the most cost-effective and quickest way.
Step 3: Google Tag Manager Setup & Testing
This step is very important for getting the review published correctly on the page that you desire.
1. First, open up Google Tag Manager and head over to variables on the left-hand menu, click configure and ensure you have "page path" selected.
2- "Add a new tag". Name the tag "Your Product Review Snippet" and then select the custom HTML tag.
3- Insert the HTML code above and then replace them with your own reviews data.
4. Then we need to make sure this code only fires on the correct landing page; to do this, we need to create a trigger.
We want this tag to fire only on your product or service page, this is when we are using the "Page Path" Variable that we have checked before.
Call the trigger "Your product page Review Snippet SEO" so you know the trigger only indicates one page and it's easily recognisable.
5- We need to test it now to make sure the code we added is validated in GTM.
Click "Preview" and then go to your Review page (in this example it's my home page) refresh it and check the GTM bar below to see if the code we added is firing.
It's time to have a little celebration here. You were able to set up the Tag and Trigger!
Now all you have to do is publish your changes in GTM.
6- Last step: Rich Result testing
But wait! How about Google SERPs? We need to take one last step to make sure our HTML code complies with the Google guidelines.
Luckily we have the Google Rich Results testing tool:
Simply insert your URL into the search bar and click "Test URL".
If we have done everything correctly, the result will look like this:
This data is the same data we have input into our HTML code in the Tag. And it's compliant with Google guidelines.
Let me know if you encountered any error and if you need my help just send me a message.