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Overcoming a Spammy Structured Markup Penalty

Schema Markup can help businesses showcase all the reviews and ratings for their products, which makes them eligible for organic stars to show up with search listings. This, in turn, can boost Click through Rate (CTR).

That said, schema can be a little precarious. There are so many fields to choose from, and guidelines are frequently updated. If you don’t keep up, you could easily be slapped with a manual penalty for structured data that’s considered spammy.

Spammy Structured Markup Penalty – What is it?

A Spammy Structured Markup penalty is a type of manual penalty, which means someone on Google’s Webspam Team has checked out your website and penalized you for not sticking to their guidelines. These manual penalties can be found under ‘Search Traffic’ and ‘Manual Actions’ in the Google Search Console.

This notice will typically stipulate that the structured data is in violation of the guidelines and instructions will be provided in order to file a reconsideration request. The message will also specify which URL the penalty is against.

Where Can You Find Your Spammy Structured Markup?

The fastest way to locate your spammy schema is by using the Structured Data Testing Tool. After pasting the URL of the specific page to inspect into the tool, it will reveal the schema markup on that page. Where in the code of the website the markup is will also be revealed if you click on a field. You’ll also be shown any warnings or errors.

Typical Aggregate Review Schema Errors

Structured data penalties are usually the result of mistakes made, and some are more common than others, including:

  • Not using the proper review information. Google will think that all your pages have been rated, which it may assume is misleading to your readers.
  • Using your overall service score on all your webpages. Google will assume the same as the above mistake.
  • Inputting data that’s not compatible with that corresponding field.
  • Inputting RatingValue, BestRating, and WorstRating incorrectly. BestRating should be 100 while WorstRating should be 0 at all times. RatingValue should be your score out of 100.
  • Using Organisation schema with reviews on various webpages aside from your Home page. Your overall service score should be kept within Organisation schema and only on the Home page.
  • Using third party review websites within your Local Business schema. Google updated their guidelines in October 2016 which state that third party review sites should not be used within your Local Business schema.

How to Recover From the Spammy Structured Markup Penalty

Here are some steps you can take to recover from this penalty:

  • Pinpoint the problem. Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to identify what the issue is, then begin deconstructing your code to rectify the issue.
  • Determine what your schema should do by using the Schema.org website. Jot down every field required and the values that they should have. Make the necessary changes on a Notepad file, and copy and paste the code in the testing tool with the ‘Code Snippet’ tab to see if the new code passes the guidelines prior to it going live on your website.
  • Use your new schema markup to replace the existing code. Use the testing tool again and run the site through it to make sure you did not miss anything.
  • Submit your request for reconsideration. You may need to wait a few weeks before you get a response. As long as your issues have been addressed, you can expect your penalty to be lifted immediately following your request acceptance.

If you need help recovering from a Google Penalty, feel free to contact us. Good luck!