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Last Updated on February 17, 2021

Website Tune Up Tool Tip # 4 - Free Google SERP Stars make your post stand out!

This Plugin is for WordPress sites only, and for a Visitors Aggregate Star Rating only.

Search Engine Results Pages (or SERP's) are the pages displayed by search engines in response to a search query.

Many people have said that displaying Google SERP stars would help direct more traffic to a post. These are the stars seen under a post title when users do a Google search. They help a post stand out to users which in turn helps a website.

SERP Stars and Google Penalties

I have read many times that if a Star review is done by the owner of the site, then a Google penalty will apply.

Here is one response to that question by WordPress

Which Plugin did we go with for Free SERP Stars? 

Initially I went with MTS, but eventually gave up with their lack of support and installed the 'kk Star Rating' WordPress Plugin.

With the "kk Star Rating" WP Plugin, we elected to use the "Visitors Aggregate Rating" and a data type of "Product".

In the video and further down this post, I set out how to set up and get "kk Star Rating" running.

Why did I drop the My Theme Shop WordPress Plugin? 

This is a long and sometimes boring, but also possibly a very useful story of how we went about getting SERP stars working on our sites.

It started with signing up with My Theme Shop (MTS) for a product called "WP Review Pro". It looked promising to begin with but I had no idea what a rocky ride this would turn out to be.

My Theme Shop has without a doubt, the slowest response of any support team I had ever seen. At times I had to write to the product's owner in order to get some product support. At worst, it took 19 days before I had to resort to this tactic to get some assistance. 

At one point we had an incompatibility conflict with Thrive Themes, who incidentally by comparison give almost instant support, most of the time. Thrive Theme Support wanted to communicative with My Theme Shop  to fix my conflict problem, but I could never get My Theme Shop to come to the party by talking to Thrive support directly.

You may well be getting what you need out of the WP Review Pro product. It certainly is more powerful than the simple task I wanted to throw at it.

My Theme Shop Plugin Settings

This MTS product provides three methods of enabling Rich Snippets using different rating schema.

1) "Author Review Rating"

2) "Visitors Aggregate Rating"

3) "Comments Review Aggregate"

It appears that the only option not to get a Google penalty with WP Review Pro, is to select "Visitors Aggregate Rating", which I had spoken about for many months with many different MTS support team members.

Considering any site owner can and possibly will manipulate this type of data, I don't see that "Visitors Aggregate Rating" would be any more genuine than the other two methods, but it is all I had to work on.

Around this time, Google had just deleted "thing" as a data type. Thing had been working for many years, but Google once again changed the game plan.

See:
https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/review-snippet

And:
https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/product
 
I had tried many Schema types, but I managed to get "Product" working great, but with 6 warnings. Then I get a clarification from Google that these are just warnings, however they do recommend that you fill in the missing fields if possible.

As it is virtually impossible to fill in the missing fields when you are selling a product as an affiliate, I elected to wear the 6 warnings some time ago, and it has never affected the display of SERP stars.

So we scrapped all of the My Theme Shop hoops, grief, and the on going payment, and went with the kk Star Ratings WordPress plugin, which is Free.

Now, how do we go about this star business, and to be Google safe?

Step by Step to Settings of kk Star Ratings

With the "kk Star Rating" WP Plugin, we elected to use the "Visitors Aggregate Rating" and a data type of "Product".


You must edit the Rich Snippet so that "name" and "description" are set to the title of the post. See the code we used below:

{
    "@context": "https://schema.org/",
    "@type": "Product",
    "name": "[title]",
    "description": "[title]",
    "aggregateRating": {
        "@type": "AggregateRating",
        "ratingValue": "[score]",
        "bestRating": "[best]",
        "ratingCount": "[count]"
    }
}


You have minimal control over the star ratings in your Admin page. If someone decides to hammer you with one star reviews, you can delete all stars and start again.

You do have the option of blocking additional ratings through an IP block using Wordfence, so this shouldn't be a problem.

For the purpose of demonstrating where these stars appear on a post, and how they operate, I have temporarily disabled the IP block on the 32V8.com web site.

"Product" works great, but with 6 warnings. Google has clarified that these are just warnings. They do recommend that you fill in the missing fields if possible.

However it has never affected the SERP Star results. They are always there.

At times I had trouble getting the Star system to kick off, but once you get it rolling, it is fine.

Go to your new post, click on where the stars are showing. Yes, on the 5th positioned star of course. Then get back into the Admin dashboard and update the post. That should do the trick.

You should now have your free SERP Stars enabled.

Most of our posts have now permanent SERP stars showing. The only exceptions seem to be posts where we have used the word Corona in the Title.

If you have a suitable sitemap.xml file installed on your site, you will be able to use my  32V8 Website Tune Up Tool to check for SERP Stars on your Google post very easily.

Last Updated on February 17, 2021

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