Review Stars in the SERPs

Results summary

This study showed that review stars in search engine results significantly improve click-through rates, by as much as 35%.

Our researchers conducted a custom research study to identify differences in click-through rate (or “CTR”) among variations of organic search results pages for two markets, one in Belron®’s most Western market, and another in a large European market.

The results showed that review stars of SERPs for both markets resulted in a significantly higher click-through rate.

Review stars in the search engine results page (or “SERP”) helped traffic uplift by 35% in the Western market and in the large European market, the same test yielded a 13% traffic uplift.

Some statistics of note:

  • Users for the Western market showed users took less time considering whether or not to click an organic search engine result with review stars included.
  • The Organic Area of Interest (or “AOI”) treatment 1 with review stars had a higher percentage of users clicking and number of clicks metrics.
  • There was significantly higher click-through rate for organic 1 SERP result with review stars, based on surveys for both the Western and European brands.

Conclusion: The review stars for both companies resulted in a significantly higher click-through rate for organic SERP pages. The implications of our findings are that in the future, SEO is where the group sees a high area of focus for review star usage, as this seems to yield higher results.


So, let’s get to the meat and potatoes. We know that adding additional media or markup to the SERPs increases the heck out of optimization. We know this from years of data across a bunch of the different optimizations we could add to our site. Anyone remember the author snippets a few moons ago? Emojis in your site’s titles and meta descriptions? Now Google will show an increased amount of characters in the meta description. Google changes the colors of ads as often as they can. Making tweaks like this is essential to pushing your optimization to that next level.


Not only will they catch people’s eye and incite a click through, but showing visitors that you have top-notch reviews will most certainly increase your conversions once the person is on your site. There are so many studies done on reviews influencing buying decisions, but a common statistic used is 80-90% of people say reviews had an effect on their purchasing path. So, we know they are important, now let’s get into making them appear and troubleshooting the situation if they do not.


How do I Add The Review Stars to my Site?



Typically, this is the place where I throw a snippet of code and send you off into the interwebs to make it happen. Well, I am going to drop a snippet of code here, but I want to build on this a bit more so you can ensure you are in compliance with Google and increase the likelihood of getting the stars to show. One caveat I would like to lead with is that Google is Google. Essentially they decide what they want to show in their SERPs and there are instances where they just will not display your stars in the SERPs. I will give some well-tested theory on how to overcome this but please know we are at the mercy of the Big G.

Here is some microdata for you…

<div itemprop=”aggregateRating” itemscope itemtype=””>
<span itemprop=”itemReviewed” style=”display: none;”>Reviews</span>
<span itemprop=”ratingValue”>4.93</span> stars – based on <span itemprop=”reviewCount”>188</span> reviews


If you prefer JSON-LD then JSON-LD you shall receive…


<script type=”application/ld+json”>
{ “@context”: “”,
“@type”: “Service”,
“name”: “Roofer”,
{“@type”: “AggregateRating”,
“ratingValue”: “4.9”,
“reviewCount”: “134”

I recommend copying from here and pasting directly into your notepad to remove any type of formatting so it does not mess up how your schema will be read. I do not want to turn these into a post about schema, and I need to update our schema guide really bad, but here is a quick blurb and warning when doing your schema. Microdata is markup similar to HTML where you are marking up data on your page. In order to mark something up in this format, it needs to be on the page, obviously.

JSON-LD is a bit different. This is a script that tells spiders what is on the page. This markup does not actually require any of the data to really be there. It will still tell the crawlers that the data is there and marked up. People gaming this aspect of their markup are usually the ones who receive spammy schema penalties. Even if your intent is not to manipulate the crawlers with fake markup, an honest mistake can lead to red flags with Google. Make sure if you are adding something to your script to markup it exists on the page.


Also, be sure to test everything in the Google structured data testing tool before adding to your site AND have it fetch your URL after adding the schema to ensure nothing on your site is interfering with how crawlers are collecting and understanding the data you marked up. Before and after.


Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 5.40.10 PM


Where do I put the Code?

Make sure you add these to the inner page that outlines your service, product, etc. Google seems to deem the review schema added to homepages as spammy and to my knowledge, they will not display the stars if you markup the homepage. Google made this announcement publicly some time ago, and I am not aware that anything changed in regards to that. John Mueller also stated that having this markup on your homepage seems unnatural and I have not seen a homepage with the review stars in the SERPs for quite a few years if my memory serves me correctly.


Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 6.04.16 PM


Okay, we have the snippet of code to add to the site, and we know that we should not add it to the homepage but rather the specific service or product page specifically. Now we need to go over a few more best practices to get us to that next level.


Removing Bad Reviews From your Site and Average Rating

I know quite a few black hat and grey hat opportunists hangout in my group so let me preface this next section by saying I have never abused this next tip to filter out legitimate bad reviews. I am not saying it would not work by any means. I think it would work really well if used within reason, but I am not condoning this as best practice if used by the dark side for nefarious reasons. This is a tool you can add in place to protect yourself against competitors, angry ex-employees, or if a YouTuber happens to have a bad experience in your hotel and encourages his massive following to give you 1-star reviews on a ton of top business review platforms.


The key here is having a Terms of Use or Terms of Service page that you link out to from your reviews page. In this page add a bunch of situations in which you will not post the reviews or consider them for your aggregate rating. Things to include would be things like:

  1. Not posting links to competitors or promotional material
  2. You will not post reviews that include profanity or offensive material
  3. You will only post reviews from verified customers
  4. You will not post fake reviews
  5. You will not post reviews that have a conflict of interest (ex-employees, family members,etc.)


The list could go on. This is all okay and above board to keep your aggregate rating from getting destroyed by fake reviews or situations where other people are getting others to trash your business based on their experience.


A Few Other Things to Consider

We are getting close to having some solid foundation here for our review stars to show up in the SERPs but there are a few more things I need you to get done or consider before moving forward. The first thing you will require for best practices is a page with all of your reviews consolidated into one place and links to the reviews on any third party platforms that you use for your aggregate rating. Have a link to this page somewhere on any pages that you mark up in hopes of getting stars to show up in the search results. Also, avoid having an unnatural amount of reviews in an extremely fast fashion that is not verifiable via a third-party platform like Google or Yelp. Also, make sure not to mess up your aggregate rating. Having that wrong is a silly way to get your stars to not show up.


This is a bit theoretical, but we found in most situations where we had to troubleshoot review star issues is when we added a ton of them to a bunch of different inner pages offering different services. Correlation =/= causation but I have also heard rumblings other places about dripping in review data so to not appear spammy to Google. Here is some more information direct from Googlein case you want to peruse some additional reading on the markup itself and some different applications.



Troubleshooting your Stars


I am assuming this was one of the most sought-after pieces of this post. I am going to condense this section into a checklist style blurb to keep it concise and actionable. Hopefully, this stuff helps you guys. Essentially, what we are doing here is reverse engineering the best practices and working backward through your site and pages to get your listing sorted.


  1. Double check that your code is spot on. We talked about this early on, but it’s essential. The biggest mistake I find is people verifying the code is correct before placing it on the site but not double checking it with a URL fetch. There are things going on with your site that can affect the code or data that you add. I have found perfect schema become filled with errors based on conflicting scripts and actions on the site. It happens. Make that your first check.
  2. To expand on this, make sure you are not marking up data that is incorrect or not on the page. This can get you a spammy schema penalty.
  3. Do you have a page and links that consolidate your reviews into one place? Is that page linked to the page in which you are trying to add your stars?
  4. Make sure you did not add mess up your aggregate rating or review numbers. This includes negating bad reviews for reasons outside of your TOS, faking the number of reviews, messing up the actual rating, etc.
  5. Make sure you are NOT adding the code to your homepage and instead the inner service page.
  6. If you are ignoring any reviews at all, make sure you have a terms of service page linked to from your marked up page. Make sure you are being ethical unless you want to risk not having your stars appear.
  7. Build trust and authority. There are instances where you just will not get your stars to show because Google does not really trust the site. You need to build some links and boost the authority. A good place to start is with your foundational links. Social profiles, Citations that actually index, MyMaps and Google stacks, etc. Also, make sure you have your above points covered to build more trust. Get some age, build some links, and make sure you’re in compliance. They will come.


If you have any questions or comments drop them here and I will do my best to respond ASAP. Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.