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Review Stars for Your Website: Google Guidelines Explained

Have you ever done a Google search and noticed that some results have star ratings next to them while others do not? The truth is, if a business’s site shows up with 4+ stars, its going to get more traffic. More users will click on the site and will form a good impression of the site before they even land on the page.

So, what makes a business earn these little orange stars next to their site and what does one pay to get that? Well, the truth is, these little stars are earned by businesses when they adhere to Google’s review policy guidelines.

To understand how businesses earn these little stars, we have outlined Google’s review policy below. The policy, which was updated in early 2018, focuses on three key elements which are outlined below:

  1. No acquisition or display filter. This means that you can no longer discourage or prohibit negative reviews nor solicit positive reviews only. The goal of this guideline is to ensure that all reviews are treated equal- bad reviews are not sent down a funnel nowhere to be seen. Businesses but post real, authentic reviews and not try to hide the negative ones or encourage only positive. If a business has some sort of display or review acquisition filter, those little stars will not appear.
  2. Reviews must be from specific location. Large, multi-local businesses can vary dramatically in terms of quality and customer control. In the past, these businesses could take the reviews from one location and plaster it across all location review feeds to improve ranking and reputation. Google realized that this was cheating the system, and as a result, added this specific location guideline. This guideline ensures that reviews written for a specific location are applied only to that location. That location must therefore have its own feed with its own unique reviews. One locations reviews cannot be shared across all other locations. This is why OPIO ensures that all multi-local businesses create unique review feeds for each location.
  3. No duplicate- only unique reviews. Piggybacking off of the location specific review guidelines, Google only grants stars to businesses that make sure all reviews on a business’s website are unique! This means no reviews can be pasted from other locations or other review sites- such as Yelp, Trustpilot, or even Google reviews. Google does not want businesses to copy and paste the same review and share it on all different review platforms. Instead, reviews on a businesses website but be totally unique and one of a kind.

As you can see, these three main guidelines affect which businesses display review stars and which do not. When we learned about these updated guidelines, we ensure that OPIO adhered to them strictly so your business can continue to showcase its stars in Google search results. These guidelines also cement our business philosophy of putting a feed right on your website with unique reviews and location specific pages, without any filters.

Have more questions about Google search results and stars? Check out Google’s guidelines in more details here: