On September 16, 2019, Google has made changes to the way it handles the rich snippets related to reviews and ratings. This is the most significant change Google made to snippets in a while and it affects millions of websites.
There are few elements to the changes Google is rolling out, and they are already affecting search results displayed, even so, that some website owners are still reporting that they are not affected. But, considering the change, it will take some time for the search results to reflect the scope of the change.
And, Google has also stated that these changes will not have negative effect on the website and webpages ranking in the search results, they will simply stop showing snippets that are considered invalid under new rules.
Schema types allowed for ratings
One of the changes is related to the rich snippets schema types that Google will consider for being related to reviews and ratings. While any schema type can have reviews or ratings attached, Google now considers only some of them as valid for rating and reviews, and if the ratings or reviews are attached to other types, Google will consider the snippet as invalid and it will be ignored.
This means, that standard Articles schema type and its derivatives (NewsArticle, BlogPosting, WebPage…) will no longer be valid if they contain reviews or ratings.
Self-serving reviews crackdown
The second part of the change relates to the reviews or ratings that are considered self-serving. So, if your website publishes reviews of your own products, they will be ignored, because they will be considered as self-serving. It doesn’t matter what the source of reviews is, or how credible, they will not be considered if they are about your product or services, published on your own website.
So, that will eliminate a lot of fully valid snippets on a lot of websites. Right now, there are no explanations how this will work exactly, and how the Google will determine if every snippet is self-serving or not, but considering that more properties for various snippet types are required, there will be matching product/service names, organizations and other things they can extract. Right now, ‘name’ property will be required for all supported snippet types.
Here is the full announcement published by Google.
WordPress website are affected by these changes
Well, as it stands, most of the WordPress plugins that are dealing with snippets are affected by the changes, and even if the snippets are completely valid they can be ignored on the basis of self-serving detection. Whatever plugin you are using, make sure to test the generated snippets and make changes so that you minimize the damage.
GD Rating System rich snippets support
Pro version of GD Rating System plugin will get a new major update soon that makes some changes to the way snippets work. It will not remove support for snippet types any longer allowed for reviews or ratings, but it will disable inclusion of ratings for those types. This way, snippets will remain valid, but without the ratings. Snippet types that support ratings or reviews will continue to function as before.
And, the plugin will get more updates if needed to better deal with Google (and other search engines) changes in the way they process rich snippets. And, the user guide related to rich snippets is updated, and will continue to get updates as we learn more about the changes.