Although there have been recent indications that rich snippets, structured data, and structured markup would play an increasing role in the way Google organised its search results, Facebook rich snippets and review stars seem to have lost their own influence on rankings.
Google has something of a reputation for reacting to rich snippets that could be considered as spam, with penalising actions that take in harsher penalties for consistent offenders, but New York internet marketing consultant David Markovich has pointed out on Twitter that Facebook may have fallen foul of Google’s wrath.
Rich snippets can have quite an effect on search results, according to Blue Nile Research – the gains can be as much as a 26% extra life value in clicks, meaning that the impact can be greater than having a top position search ranking.
The rivalry between Facebook and Google continues to intensify, with referral traffic, digital assistants and add a link features all being weaponised in the battle between the online tech giants.
Chief executive of Liverpool agency Ph.Creative Bryan Adams thinks that the latest ratings removal move isn’t as clear cut as being simply a blow between enemies. It could just be that Google doesn’t trust Facebook reviews, due to the fact they are easily bought.
Adams explained: “People do buy these Facebook ratings to synthetically create a perception of social proof and credibility. If these ratings were affecting the CTR to Facebook from Google, it would be a risk to Google and the service they look to uphold for their customers.”
Abuse and misuse
If Adams’ view is the right one, Google’s actions are in keeping with the company’s long-standing reaction to anyone who is deemed to be abusing and misusing its search algorithm.
However, another answer to the current state of play regarding Facebook’s rich snippets could be a lot less complicated – it could just be a bug of some kind. As part of the constant tweaking of its systems, Google may have caused a blip in the ratings; this will be rectified and means they will reappear soon.