google-thumbThere is a report by Mike Blumenthal that says Google has updated their local business reviews guidelines around when you can use the schema markup on the reviews and when you cannot.

Here are the new guidelines:

  • Snippets must not be written or provided by the business or content provider unless they are genuine, independent, and unpaid editorial reviews.
  • Reviews must allow for customers to express both positive and negative sentiments. They may not be vetted by the business or restricted by the content provider based on the positive/negative sentiment of the review before submission to Google.
  • Reviews cannot be template sentences built from data or automated metrics. For example, the following is not acceptable: “Based on X number of responses, on average people experienced X with this business.”
  • Reviews for multiple-location businesses such as retail chains or franchises can only be submitted for the specific business location for which they were written. In other words, reviews for multiple-location businesses cannot be syndicated or applied to all business locations of the same company.
  • Aggregators or content providers must have no commercial agreements paid or otherwise with businesses to provide reviews.
  • Do not include reviews that are duplicate or similar reviews across many businesses or from different sources.
  • Only include reviews that have been directly produced by your site, not reviews from third-party sites or syndicated reviews.

The biggest change is that when you are including third-party syndicated reviews that aren’t “directly produced by your site,” you shouldn’t mark up those reviews with schema.  The only reviews that should be marked up are those “directly produced by your site, not reviews from third-party sites or syndicated reviews.”

There are a number of websites that could be impacted by this guideline change that have implemented local reviews markup.

The biggest change in the guidelines, and the one that will have the biggest impact is the third-party prohibition.

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