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Did Local Review Spammers Just Get Self-Served?

See Betteridge’s Law of Headlines for the answer. For those looking to procrastinate, feel free to read on.

Yesterday’s Google announcement about it’s new “algorithmic updates” review mark-up caused a fair amount of Local SEO Twittering and Slacking.

My interpretation of this is “we’ve had enough of businesses publishing 5-star reviews of themselves on their sites and displaying rating stars in the SERPs for them.”

That’s all well and good. Abuse of structured mark-up has been a hot mess for years and the implementation guidelines are often so fuzzy they feel like missives from Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

Of course brands that pay 3rd parties to monitor and aggregate legitimate reviews may likely wonder why they lobbied hard for that budget. Of course there are plenty of non-schema reasons to add reviews to your site, but let’s face it, those orange stars in the SERPs were the big selling point. Kind of like GMB messaging was before Google shut that down…

I bet it will be fun for everyone explaining why CTR suddenly tanked for brand queries.

If Google can clean this up, and that’s a big “if,” then this feels like a good move. But as we often see with Google’s algorithmic fixes, closing one loophole tends to open up ten others. Some potential new loopholes:

1. Create separate entities (e.g. Local SEO Guide, Inc. & Local SEO Guide, LLC) and add marked-up reviews of the new entity to your site.

2. Create separate domains for reviews of your business (e.g. LocalSEOGuideReviews.com) and mark up those reviews.

3. Build a directory of local businesses that you have no relationship with, include your business, publish a ton of reviews (real and/or fake), and mark them up. Maybe call it “Yelp” or something.


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