Is Google Removing Rich Snippet Stars from SEO?4
For a few years now rich snippets have provided Google and webmaster’s a way of portraying additional information about websites in the search engine results. These have grown from including reviews (displayed as shiny yellow stars) to additional information such as events, music, recipes and much more. Originally these rich snippets of information were exclusive to organic search listings, as with most things Google eventually rolled these out to paid listings.
Then a few weeks ago David Naylor wrote a blog post saying how Google was starting to crack down on misuse of rich snippets. Quite well timed as I too had seen a number of sites using clear self generated information to trigger rich snippet stars. Earlier this week however I noticed that a large number of search results in Google UK have now stopped showing rich snippet review stars on the organic listing. One example I have here is the search query “SEO” in the UK, in January 2012 you use to see a result like this:
Notice there are 3 sites with stars, however the same result now in February 2012:
There are two sites which no longer have the stars – in fact this screen shot doesn’t do this change justice as at least there is still an organic listing displaying them. The main area I have seen such a dramatic change is in travel, especially hotel related searches. I don’t unfortunately have a “before” screenshot of what websites had rich snippets showing but I can tell you there were at least 3 in the organic results which displayed them, unfortunately now there are none!
Although there are now no rich snippet reviews in Google for “London hotels” there are plenty still displayed in Google Places and PPC listings – why’s that you ask? Well it’s doesn’t take a genius to see Google will be drawing even more of the CTR for these search terms away from SEO/organic and towards Google’s money makers.
I’ve seen very similar results happen for a number of other keywords too, in fact there’s only a few I could actually find! If anyone has any insights or screen shots of before/after I’ll happily add to the post.