Recently while looking over a Shopify store I was reminded of one of Google’s quality guidelines:
Don’t deceive your users.
I’m not going to get into what the store was doing because that’s not the point (and hopefully they’ll fix their store now that they know the rules).
What does interest me is that a lot of the bad SEO advice is good advice taken to the extremes.
Product reviews are a great example.
A common piece of advice with SEO is to add your product reviews to the search results.
That’s a great idea in general.
But if sharing the reviews for an individual product is good, why not combine them for a product category?
Or even combine them for your entire store?
And if you don’t have any reviews but the product is a generic product, why can’t use "borrow" reviews from other places? Maybe even from the suppliers?
(To be clear, don’t do those last three…)
If you just follow the basic advice, it’s easy to go from sharing your reviews to scraping/stealing similar reviews. That’s one step away from fake reviews which will run you afoul of just about every terms of service agreement (and maybe a few laws too).
That’s why I like Google’s guideline of "Don’t deceive your users."
The intention is very clear but it’s a bit vague with the specifics. For beginners though, the vagueness is confusing.
A better rule-of-thumb is on the same page:
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?"
The "would you feel comfortable telling a Google employee" is such a strong acid test. Same for telling your competitor. I’d even add telling your customer to that list.
How would your customer feel if you told them that product with 2,000+ reviews only had 3 reviews?
How would a competitor feel? Would they be happy or would they report you to Google?
(That’s something anyone can do. Any person can report a site to Google for breaking the guidelines. That’s where manual actions come from, Google gets a report and an employee manually reviews a site)
Anyways, I bet your store is doing the right thing.
The vast majority of the stores and customers are completely on the good side. It’s just that the borderline or scammy stores are so memorable.
Or as my wife said one time "Did they honestly think they’d get away with this?"
With all these guidelines and quality talk, you might start to understand why I say JSON-LD for SEO is the safest way to get structured data for your Shopify store.
It’s been used and tested on thousands of stores now since it first launched in 2015.
P.S. A variant of that second rule is: do you think you can outsmart 100s of Google’s PhD employees whose entire job is to review and monitor the quality of the search results?
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