Adding star reviews to a websites search results listing has been proven to increase click through rate, with many arguing it can increase CTR by as much as 30%. They act as a positive reenforcement and represent a website's authenticity and build trust with users.
It's no secret that Google have been experimenting with the star reviews in SERPS over the past few months. As far back as August 2014, online forums have been awash with SEO's commenting on what colour stars they were seeing on that particular day.
It wasn't until recently that we noticed that green stars were showing up in our google searches here at Creode, rather than the usual yellow, that we began to question the intention behind the changes. Why are Google putting time and effort into experimenting with the colours, and what are they trying to acheive? Google have yet to release a statement explaining their reasoning for altering the colours, so for now we can only speculate.
Pessimistically, we could look at this as another way Google are making the job of an SEO that much harder, detracting from the effectiveness of these stars in improving CTR in SERP's and encouraging more users to click on paid ads. However, even in the paid ads the stars are showing as green, which suggests that this may not be the reason; that is until we begin seeing different colours for organic and paid links!
There is another theory which takes into account psychological associations made with colours:
- Yellow - confidence, optimisim and creativity
- Green - harmony, reassurance and equilibrium
- Red – Strength, warmth and stimulation
- Blue – Intelligence, trust, calm
With that in mind, Google could be seen to be attempting to establish the most effective colour for displaying the ratings with the intention of emoting a particular positive reaction from users; so as to actually encourage users to click whether it be on a paid ad or Organic result. In this case it could be argued that Google are in fact helping SEO's and finding the colour that could in fact improve CTR. A counter argument here could be the fact that Google are also testing how grey stars perform. The grey seems to imply that Google are wanting to make the star ratings less prominent and to have them blend into the background, rather than acting as a positive enforcement to encourage clicks.
As a member of LocalSearchForum.com above points out, what about those users who are colour-blind? Should this be a factor in determining the colour of ratings stars in SERP's? Surely it would be more effective, and fair, to display the stars in a colour that will look the same for all users.
While we wait for an official word on this from Google, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this. What colour stars are you seeing? What colour do you think works best and more importantly, why do you think Google is experimenting at all? Please comment below!