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Does Rich Snippets Work on Affiliate Sites?

According to Google, Rich Snippets for Products are supported only for merchants, those who actually offer product purchase on page, means you can purchase the reviewed product on page. But, all other sites that promote a product or has affiliation with the merchant aren’t supported by Rich Snippets reviews is not supported on sites that doesn’t offer purchase of reviewed product directly on the page, which practically includes affiliate sites.

The other day, I got contacted by a website founder who wants to implement Rich Snippets on her site and was looking at the WP Reviews plugin. She asked me if Google will show the rating stars for an affiliate site!

Usually, my answer to this question is that the plugin’s job is to validate reviews in the Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, the search results is Google’ business, it’s totally up to Google to decide! And, I really don’t have any control over the rating stars in the SERPs, although I’ve seen many sites having the stars showing, others were dropped after time.

Practically, no one can have a sure answer to that question.

The product should be available for purchase directly on the page. We do not support product markup for pages that require a user to visit separate seller’s site or contact a seller offline to complete a purchase. (source: Webmaster Tools > Structured data and rich snippets).

Is it true?!

No, it’s not true. At least not yet! but to be honest; it sucks!

Why this sucks?! Because if Google says it’s not supported, then why all this hassle?!

Why we have to go though implementing something that won’t work at the end!

And, more worst… Why it’s working on some sites and not working for other sites?! There are many affiliate sites on the web -also blogs- that are mostly doing affiliate marketing, these sites has product reviews star rating in search results, Rich Snippets are actually working for them, some of these sites aren’t popular though.

Here are some of the popular sites that Google blessed:

While some other sites like Etsy.com implements Rich Snippets with no luck, however they are so close to how Amazon.com works! And bizrate.com which provide store ratings and it has affiliate links for almost every big merchant in the USA.

More strangely, I personally run two reviews sites that has correct Rich Snippets (valid by the Structured Data Testing Tool) but the rating stars show for only one website, and it doesn’t show for the other one. I confirm that the way I’ve implementing the Rich Snippets on both sites is identical 100%.

The same thing is happening with WP Reviews plugin users, some sites are having Rich Snippets showing in search results, and other sites has no luck.

Reduction in Google Rich Snippets!

I have no explanation for more of the cases I have in hand. I can’t explain why Rich Snippets aren’t showing for a specific website, but mostly I think it’s due to authority, popularity and trust. I know that everyone has different needs and requirements for his/her site, also people have different taste, some don’t like how the display output of the plugin, hence they try to customize the Rating Box and review details.

Although the WP Reviews plugin has features to hide elements from the Rating Box, I never recommend using these features, it’s only there because members asked -so badly- for it!

I’ve also seen a few spammy sites with Rich Snippets, they are actually using my plugin. I am not proud of what they do! (I just can’t stop them from buying and using the plugin).

All what I can do is to try education people on how to use the plugin, and how to write good reviews, earn money from paid reviews, and write reviews that converts, etc. I’ve been doing for a few years now, and I know how it works! But…

Google will show Rich Snippets for sites with more authority and trust, this explains the 15% reduction in Google Rich Snippets that Matt Cutts announced recently at PubCon.

Matt Cutts:

The ability to have and use rich snippets may be taken away for low quality sites in the coming months. (source: Matt Cutts at PubCon).

Well… help me to define quality!


While Google recommend implementing markups into your website, they are taking off Rich Snippets from search results… Google’s goal is to actually confuse SEOs, simply they don’t want you to know what works and what is not. However, implement markups on your site might be a worthwhile investing.

Image credit: A Visual Guide to Rich Snippets 

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