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Our review metadata stopped appearing in Google serps

1:07 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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On our UK review website google recently removed all the metadata associated with our reviews in their serps, e.g. stars out of 5, number of reviews etc. I have nothing code wise on the site and indeed even on the structured data testing tool in WMT the review metadata shows up perfectly fine. Has anyone else had any similar experiences? Can this be interpreted as a penalty of sorts? It hasnt affected traffic much so far. We did introduce about 20% more pages recently to our index, all I can think is that google allow metadata to show in serps if a certain ratio of pages with reviews to pages in total is achieved and clearly this ratio was lowered with us adding new pages recently.
1:41 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Does the disappearance of your ratings coincide with the DNS errors mentioned in this thread? [webmasterworld.com ]
2:10 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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robster124 - At PubCon in October 2013, Matt Cutts announced that there would be roughly a 15% reduction in the number of rich snippets displayed in Google SERPs. We discussed the topic in this thread, where several members had noticed the disappearance of their rich snippets as early as April....

Disappearance of rich snippets
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4567304.htm [webmasterworld.com]

In the thread I mention that while I feel that schema markup will be helpful for Google to extract the information, Google has made a number of statements suggesting that the markup by itself may not provide enough signals for Google to display the rich snippets in SERPs...

I think that multiple indications of trust, authority, and user popularity are increasingly being considered to confirm all markup, all links, all content, etc. As Google gains confidence in its ability to make accurate discriminations, it will do so... and low quality sites which don't merit rich snippets are not going to get or retain them.

So, it may be that you were in the 15% Matt mentioned.

I see in one of your earlier posts regarding a slow decline in traffic [webmasterworld.com...] you posted the following (I'm assuming about the same site to which you added content above)....

have those experiencing a slow decline in traffic tried adding new content recently? i had a site in a similar situation until recently and then started adding new and decent content and saw traffic pick back up. i can only assume this triggered some freshness signal?

my view was that i was spending far too much time trying to tweak SEO on my current pages without adding any deceng new content (in fact ive kind of made this a rule for me this year!)

My guess is that adding the content may have had a slowing effect in your decline, but it hasn't reversed how Google is seeing your site. Chances are, and this is a guess, that you may have to work on the other onpage and offpage factors that Google wasn't liking.
2:32 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What Robert said, plus a bit of a "different take" on part of what he's saying due to my personalization experiences:

...but it hasn't reversed how Google is seeing your site. Chances are, and this is a guess, that you may have to work on the other onpage and offpage factors that Google wasn't liking.

In addition to just "thinking about what Google is or isn't liking" about your site, you may need to really think through what *visitors* are or are not liking about your site.

Back-in-the-day, you could "game the algo" and get traffic whether visitors thought your site was "up to snuff" or not -- Fast-forward to nearly 2014 and now you can plausibly rank #3 algorithmically yet be visited less than you would have previously at #10 after "personalization kicks-in" for those your site is "not attractive" to.

The game is definitely changing [has changed?] from "gaming Google and getting visitors whether they like your site or not" to "your site better be understandable to Google's algo and you better be liked by visitors, or you won't be visited by many."
11:58 am on Nov 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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hey guys - thanks for the responses. Adding pages and new content to the site has in the medium term increased our traffic by about 15% so I am very happy to continue to do that especially as we are in a sector where new content is really especially important. Short term I think the loss of rich snippets may have cost us less than 5% of traffic short term.

Thanks for linking to that rich snippet discussion - I hadn't actually seen it but probably explains whats happening. To be quite frank, I think there were way too many sites in google with rich snippets attached to them anyway. We've all seen sites trying to spam the serps with review information that doesnt really exist. Not surprising that they had to apply an extra filter.

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