Google Pruning Rich Snippets In Search Results?

May 30, 2012 • 8:38 am | comments (22) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Rich Snippets SpamA new WebmasterWorld thread has one webmaster taking notice that Google seems to be displaying fewer and fewer rich snippets in the search results.

Rich Snippets is markup used by Google to show various data elements in text or a graphical nature in the search results on or near the search snippets.

Webmasters have been taking notice of this and at once point, Google has been showing so many rich snippets that the search results for many types of queries have become extremely colorful. This is not a bad thing, the only issue was that webmasters began abusing it by faking and spamming the rich snippets. Google retaliated by creating a rich snippets spam reporting tool.

But as you know, Google doesn't like to take manual action when they can build software to take automated action.

Maybe, I am not sure, Google released a rich snippets spam algorithm over the past week or so that targets showing only "trusted" sources for rich snippets?

Here is a screen shot of Amazon showing the rich snippets but Walmart not showing it.

Amazon vs Walmart Rich Snippet

The Walmart page does have the rich snippet markup on it. But technically the Amazon page does not seem to have it, at least I didn't see it in the HTML and the Google testing tool says it is not there.

So I am not sure what is going on. Is Amazon getting special treatment, is there a bug or is something else going on - like a trusted source thing?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Uncle Demotivator

05/30/2012 12:43 pm

Oh, You know - Big G's algo is just "opinion", so in Google opinion Amazon deserves to get rich snippets (doesn't matter if it has rich snippets markups or not) and Walmart doesn't.

Gary Reid (isoGen)

05/30/2012 01:05 pm

It looks to me like both have rich snippets, Walmart has "$14.97 - in stock". I would guess the star rating/reviews that Amazon has is from Google Shopping direct and maybe Walmart have no ratings for this product in Google Shopping

Barry Schwartz

05/30/2012 01:13 pm

Did you look at the html or rich snippet testing tool?

Gary Reid (isoGen)

05/30/2012 01:20 pm

Neither, just looking at your screen capture and I would guess both are being pulled from Google shopping/products rather than from their respective websites. The "$14.97 - in stock" under Walmart is a rich snippet just doesn't have reviews pulled in.

Barry Schwartz

05/30/2012 01:21 pm

Like I said in my story, Amazon does not have any rich snippet markup in their code. Only Walmart does.

Gary Reid (isoGen)

05/30/2012 01:33 pm

Agree, I wasn't disagreeing with that at all, all I was trying to clarify is that both have rich snippets showing in the google search results page in your screen cap and it's probable that both of the rich snippets showing are being pulled from Google shopping not from their websites. So having no markup doesn't really matter.

Mike Gracen

05/30/2012 02:10 pm

Shocking. Google giving preferential treatment to Amazon? Never! :-)

Adam Mason

05/30/2012 04:12 pm

Was the phrase "lava lite classic" used to get this screen dump? I have just done a quick search and Walmart is showing the reviews rich snippets but Amazon is not. This looks like an algo to me, that or a bug that's now been fixed.

Matt Ridout

05/30/2012 04:13 pm

I noticed this a few months back in the UK too

Aaron Bradley

05/30/2012 04:29 pm

Amazon and other enterprise ecommerce sites have long gotten "special treatment" when it comes to rich snippets and, in particular, reviews. This isn't new, and isn't necessarily a case of Google "favoring large brands" with some evil underlying monetary intent. The reason is part historical. When it comes to generating reviews Google has been doing this for a long time prior to the introduction of support for hReview, RDFa and - most recently - microdata. Google has long considered review data helpful for their searchers, and to that end have gone out of their way to "understand" review content. To this end, they've been parsing pages with reviews on select sites for years. And it's this parsing that accounts for "preferential treatment": when you're structuring somebody else's non- or semi-structured data, you have to pick your targets, as it's not - or rather wasn't - realistic (or cost-effective) for Google to try and extract review data from all web pages with reviews. Amazon, yes; Bob's Fish and Reptile Emporium, no. Google's review rich snippets got underway with review rich snippets for Yelp and Citysearch in 2008. This was followed by support for sites fueled PowerReviews or Bazaar Voice (again, specifically parsing the code these review services generated without the need for supported structured data markup). And on an ad hoc basis other sites without structured review markup have been brought into the fold, including Amazon. Again, Google thinks reviews are important, and the past few months they've clearly opened the floodgates for review rich snippets, particularly when its come to sites marked up with's AggregateRating type. Webmasters were quick to take advantage of this, and a lot of gaming happened quited quickly. Google has been aware of this and has been receiving complaints about it, and so its no surprise that we're seeing this rollback now. I think what Google has yet to fully work out with microdata - and with reviews especially - is the balance between populating the SERPs with ratings and trying to keep spam out of its index. That is, the trust and proof measures that need to be applied to structured markup are different than just for unstructured websites (e.g. you can't rely on links as much as a measure of authority or veracity), and this is a work in progress. And sometimes this means throwing the baby away with the bathwater. So a site like Walmart might get sidelined in this latest iteration of this work, because site-by-site trust validation isn't scalable: if Walmart's reviews don't pass the grade, it's almost certainly because it is just another site with review markup that didn't meet the trust threshold in this latest iteration. But Amazon was never evaluated on that basis to begin with.

Adam Mason

05/30/2012 04:59 pm

I'm not sure if it a personalised result for me or the UK but following from my earlier comment, I am seeing Walmart now has the review rich snippets but Amazon has none. It could just be coincidence but maybe Google are underway in creating an automated algo to combat rich snippet spam. The same algo could pull in review data from other sources for organic SERPs.

Henny G

05/30/2012 05:28 pm

old news really... but Google is going to continue to tighten up its leash since there is a ton of rich snippet spam everywhere.


05/30/2012 07:54 pm

Barry you do not need to have the rich snippets code build in the pages themselves if you have those in your Google Merchant feed.

John Britsios

05/30/2012 07:54 pm

Barry you do not need to have the rich snippets code build in the pages themselves if you have those in your Google Merchant feed.

Lord of SEO

05/30/2012 11:59 pm

Full of ex amazon directors I think


06/08/2012 12:31 pm

Google is big big player, first it attracts webmasters with Ice-cream filled bowl then suddenly take it back Why google not think about the side imapcts on Rich Snippet when small website invested so many hrs to develop rating and other software. And now google is not paying importance. It is very bad thing its kind of monopoly. Only Big sites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, getting rich snippets why user will come to google to find these sites these are already so much famous user goes directly to them. It is fool :)


06/12/2012 05:32 pm

customer rating is from 3rd party feed (customer rating vendor) .. the above example is not becasue of Google.. it is svi feed


07/10/2012 09:18 pm

I already added the rich snippets to my product pages. can I also add rich snippets to category pages as well?


07/10/2012 09:21 pm

Another question, I already have a feed going to the 'Google Merchant Center'. can i also add rich snippets to the Google Merchant Center feed also?

John Britsios

07/10/2012 10:46 pm

Sure you can!


12/02/2012 03:53 pm

I have created proper code and tested it in snippet test tool and its displaying price and stock information properly , but actual result snippet in google serp dsnt display price and stock info? did any one came across same issue?


05/08/2013 03:47 pm

Does Google+ Local allow rich snippets stars anymore? I only see them on G+ Local for review sites and not local business listings....

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