Have you noticed that you are not seeing review stars in your search results for your dealership website lately? Google made a change to its algorithm (officially named the Sept. 2019 Review Rich Results Update, affectionately referred to as Starmageddon) in which local businesses may no longer use structured data or third party widgets to enhance search results with average star ratings. Google calls reviews marked up with Schema or embedded by a third party widget, as ‘self-serving’ and not in the best interest of the end user.
Structured data (or Schema) functions behind the scenes in the source code of a webpage. It works by telling search engines what the page contains. It allowed them to potentially display rich results like the rich review snippet seen below (5 Star Rating and Votes). Search Engines displayed this data as an average star rating under the search result URL. Now, this is no longer the case!
Many dealers in the automotive industry use third party review widgets. Most dealers don’t want to show one, two or even three-star reviews on their website. Now, using a widget on your site that aggregates reviews that can be managed, (the key phrase is ‘that can be managed’) will be considered self-serving and will not result in rich snippets. This doesn’t negate the usefulness of having review widgets on your website, as setting a positive user experience and easing the mind of potential buyers’ minds is always a good idea. Listing positive reviews on your website sends a signal to a prospective customer you are a credible business well suited to taking care of their customers’ needs. Starmageddon only refers to showing review stars and votes in search result snippets.
Lastly, and in my opinion, the largest nail in the proverbial coffin for the automotive website review stars in search results, is that the name of the item being reviewed must be in that review. We all know that automotive dealer reviews come as reviews about the business, service, and friendliness of the staff as opposed to the vehicle that was just purchased. All of this combined will make seeing review stars in rich snippets for auto dealers very difficult to come by in the future.
The good news is that review stars for automotive dealerships may still display in search results from the actual review sites, such as Google, Yelp, Dealer Rater, etc. because they are not ‘managed’ and show all reviews, both good and bad.