Have you ever looked at the organic search results and wondered how your competitors have managed to get gold stars against their organic listings? It’s actually a lot easier to achieve than you may think and can be very effective for increasing CTR (click-through rates) to your website. 5 gold stars in the search results will help you stand out against your competitors and attract more customers.
Get online reviews from trusted sources
One of the first steps is to start collecting genuine customer reviews from a number of online trusted sources. These can include Google My Business, Facebook, and many other platforms such as White Spark (paid). Remember new customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations so you should make this a priority in your digital marketing plan. Read my post on how to rank in Google maps if you need more information on GMB.
Ask customers to leave you a review
Don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave you a review and try to make this as easy as possible for them. In the past, I’ve designed a simple postcard for my clients with an incentive (such as a small discount on their next purchase) for leaving a review. I’ve also built a review page on some of my client’s websites with step by step instructions on how to leave a review with examples. Google My Business reviews are a little harder to collect as your customers will need a Google account to leave one (most people do these days).
Make it easy for customers to leave a review
One of the best ways to make it easy for customers to leave you a review is by creating a review link which you can email to them, add to your website or email signature. There are a few websites which will actually create this for you, such as this one. I would recommend a URL shortening service such as tinyurl.com to tidy up the link. You could also use a hyperlink such as ‘please leave us an online review’.
Create ‘Aggregate Rating’ schema markup
Once you have been successful in capturing some online reviews you will need to create web-based code which is referred to as structured data or schema markup. This code is supported by all of the major search engines, helps them to understand more about your website and provides more detailed information in the organic search results. Here’s an example of the code I have created for my own website which uses Google My Business to pull in the reviews. You can change the link to Facebook or any other source of reviews that you have managed to collect:
<span itemscope="" itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Review-aggregate"><span itemprop="itemreviewed">Targeted SEO Ltd.</span> <span itemprop="rating" itemscope="" itemtype="http://data-vocabulary.org/Rating">is rated <span itemprop="average">5</span> out of <span itemprop="best">5</span></span>. Based on <span itemprop="count">11</span> <a href="https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJE8qVTSJ0dEgRvndrd98leos" target="_blank">reviews.</a></span>
Alternatively, use a plugin
If you’re not confident about creating schema markup you can use a plugin to create the code for you but only if your website is in WordPress CMS. Two of my favourite plugins at the moment are WP SEO Structured Data Schema Pro and Schema Pro by the clever chaps over at Brainstorm Force. These plugins will also help you create local business markup, helping you to supply even more information about your business to search engines.
Whiteboard Friday – markup and tags.
Other sources for creating local business markup
Gregory Ortiz (who is well known in SEO circles) created a very useful tool for generating schema markup. All you need to do is create a free account, fill in the fields and copy the code to your website. Just make sure you select the right business category and your information is consistent with citations and other NAP data (name, address, phone number).
Implement on your website
The next step will be to add the schema markup code to your website. I usually place this in the footer of the pages that I want the gold stars to appear on. Google will not display stars next to your home page in the search results so it’s not worth trying this! It’s also technically against Google’s guidelines and can start to look spammy if you try to force it on every single page of your site.
Test for errors
If you went ahead and created the local business markup the next stage will be to test using Google’s free structured data testing tool. Add your URL to fetch and see the results. You may find that the test returns errors, which you will need to fix.
Wait for Google
There’s no guarantee that Google will display the gold stars next to your webpage in the search results but if you have followed the steps above I’d be surprised if it doesn’t work. I’ve personally had some really good results using schema markup on my company website and also on affiliate marketing blogs that I manage. The plugins are particularly effective for increasing CTR although within the affiliate marketing industry every SEO knows this trick so the search results for ‘XYZ reviews’ are filled with 5 gold stars!
Do you need gold stars in the search results?
If you want to stand out from your competitors or even match them then yes! 5 gold stars are a must for any local or e-commerce business. According to a recent study by BrightLocal, a 5-star rating earns a business 39% more clicks from Google in comparison to a 1-star rating.
Need an expert to implement structured data for you?
If you’re interested in improving your online reputation and would like to implement schema markup on your website, talk to us. We can devise a strategy to capture more reviews for your business and optimise your search engine rankings.