Google seems to have taken out the whitelisting process for several types rich snippets, most importantly the review and review-aggregate types. In the process they have also made some changes to how combined author / rich snippets are shown. Let me run you through what I’ve seen over the last few days.
Review snippets for everyone
For a while now, I had review snippets showing on my blog posts and pages here on yoast.com that I’d marked up appropriately. Over the last weeks I started noticing that I was seeing more rich snippets show up in more and more SERPs on sites that had not had them before. Yesterday I did a post on my Dutch blog to test this. I added a plugin called GD Star Rating, which allows people to rate posts.
This plugin has the ability to add rich snippet markup, but does it in a rather “hackish” way by hiding it:
It was good enough for testing though. I published a post about favicons, immediately gave it a 5 star rating myself so when Google spidered it, it had a rating, and low and behold, within the hour, this was showing in the Dutch SERPs:
Immediate rich snippets… You used to need to be whitelisted for this, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I’ve tested this with both microformat hreview markup and schema.org markup and both work 100% fine, even when hidden. That last bit is “new” as Google has always stated that you should not hide your code for rich snippets, which is also what I disliked about GD star rating. In most cases though, it’s absolutely unnecessary to hide the results, you’ll want to show them with stars and you can still make that machine readable too.
The conclusion here is simple: if you have reviews and you haven’t marked them up as a rich snippet yet, go do that immediately. I’ve written how to’s on hreview & rich snippets for WordPress and on rich snippets for Magento in the past, use those. For some of my clients I’ve seen as much as 20 to 30% uplift in the past, on the same rankings, when getting rich snippets, just because more people clicked on those results.
Combined rich snippets and author highlights
If you do a lot of searching for WordPress related terms in the English Google results you’ll know that I have a so called “author highlight”, based on the rel=author markup (for which you do still need to be whitelisted):
These aren’t live in any other languages than english yet, so that’s why you’re not seeing that for my yoast.nl domain yet. A while ago, the combination of an author highlight with a rich snippet for a review would look like this:
Google dropped the +1 button recently, as in, it only shows on hover now. But what also changed is how this rich snippet is displayed, the author image is made a bit smaller and now the result looks like this:
While it looks a bit less “prominent” it actually takes up a bit more space in the search results and shows the authors name twice, which seems weird to me, so I think they’ll change at some point too.
Other rich snippets
It seems as though you still need to be whitelisted for other types of snippets. For instance, I implemented the new software application snippets for my WordPress SEO plugin and Google Analytics for WordPress plugin pages, which would look something like this according to the rich snippets testing tool:
But those aren’t showing yet, nor are the reviews embedded in it.
There’s no more reason to wait with adding rich snippet markup to your pages, you really should just do it right now. I very much doubt whether this will continue to be as easy as it seems to be now though. It seems to me as though this is to easy to spam and no doubt affiliates will make a lot of use of this “feature”. My guess is that soon we’ll be wishing for Google to go back to actually white listing websites for rich snippets for reviews as well, because are results have become too cluttered.
Check out this video from when Google introduced Rich Snippets: