Google’s product review rules you have to follow for Rich Results

Even though I don’t run a product reviews app, I get a lot of questions about reviews. That’s because getting your product reviews into Google’s Rich Results is such a powerful search enhancement for your store.

One question I’m asked frequently is about combining product reviews, especially on a collection page.

One warning, what you read next might get you upset at your product reviews app. Many review apps have features that can be unknowingly in violation of Google’s guidelines. I know at least one that blatantly violates Google’s guidelines on purpose (creates fake reviews).

I think most of the reviews apps aren’t breaking the guidelines on purpose. They just don’t have a deep enough understanding of Google when they code a feature up. It works in the short-term but they don’t realize that once Google reviews the store, the store would get punished.

In the case of one customer, their reviews app was adding a set of fake product structured data to the collections page that combined the reviews for all of the collection products. Basically, their collection was listed as a product with 4,000+ reviews.

Here’s the relevant Google guidelines about reviews and products. I’ve added my comments following to add more context for Shopify stores.

These first two guidelines are from Google’s review guidelines and apply to any review on your site (product, store, article, etc).

Make sure the reviews and ratings you mark up are readily available to users from the marked-up page. It should be immediately obvious to users that the page has review or ratings content.

All review content should be shown and visible on the page to the visitor. e.g. which reviewer said what and gave what rating.

Provide review and/or rating information about a specific item, not about a category or a list of items. For example, “hotels in Madrid,” “summer dresses,” or “cake recipes” are not specific items. See also our structured data guidelines for multiple entities on the same page.

Don’t combine reviews from multiple products, especially if they are just a category of products (collection in Shopify-speak).

This next guideline is specific to products

Use markup for a specific product, not a category or list of products. For example, “shoes in our shop” is not a specific product. See also our structured data guidelines for multiple entities on the same page.

Don’t markup a collection of products as a single product. e.g. Red shirts. Basically another version of the guideline just before but applying to products specifically.

There’s also a set of general guidelines for structured data with two more guidelines.

Don’t mark up irrelevant or misleading content, such as fake reviews or content unrelated to the focus of a page.

Pretty self-explanatory.

Fake reviews is such a huge topic in ecommerce. In fact, yesterday I found out that Shopify has their own guidelines that could apply to fake reviews and misleading content which could get a store shutdown ("deceptive commercial practices").

Put the structured data on the page that it describes. […] For example, the following pages should not host structured data (other than carousel markup):

Don’t mark up a page that describes "10 best ideas for cooking turkey," with links out to each recipe.

Don’t mark up a page that lists all engineering jobs in Mountain View, CA, with links to individual job pages.

A more general guideline saying the collection pages should not have structured data for each product. Or blog pages should not have article structured data for blog posts.

The carousel exception is an interesting one but doesn’t apply to products.

I encourage you to read Google’s guidelines. I linked to the major ones above. Some of them are more technical but a lot of them are common sense and sound like the right way to do things.

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.

If you have a specific question about the guidelines, feel free to ask. I’ve gone through them many times with JSON-LD for SEO to ensure it’s compliant.

Eric Davis

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