Today's Ask WP Tasty segment deals with stars. Specifically, the star ratings for your recipes! A few customers have reached out to us for our opinion on whether it's better to use comment-free ratings or the default comment-associated ratings.

So let's chat about ratings!

Should I care about star ratings? ?

Yes! You may recall that we broke down what the required and recommended structured data fields were in our last Ask WP Tasty post. Ratings are a recommended field and count towards your recipe card being “fully enhanced.”

Think about the way that you search for recipes on Google and how you determine which recipe to try out. Are you more willing to try a recipe that has a bunch of positive ratings or one that doesn't have any ratings at all (even if it is an amazing recipe)?

Screenshot of Pinch of Yum's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in Google search results

Let's face it – you're probably going to go with the former and people searching for recipes will likely do the same. Luckily, Tasty Recipes allows your readers to rate your recipes when they leave a comment on a recipe post. So convenient! ?

Which leads us to our next point…

Comment-free ratings vs. Comment-associated ratings ✏️

The default behavior of Tasty Recipes is to have ratings associated with a comment. So, if someone's looking to rate that chocolate cake you made 5 stars, they'll also have to write why they're rating it so.

We do support an integration with the WP-PostRatings plugin that allows readers to submit a rating without leaving a comment, but our recommendation is to keep the comment-associated ratings around for two reasons.

First and foremost, it limits spammy ratings. Having comment-free ratings means that someone can come on to your site and click a rating just because they can. Maybe you'll get a bunch of random 5-star ratings, but it's also possible for you to get a bunch of random 1-star ratings. Not ideal!

Second, and this is the big one – by keeping the ratings to people who have actually tried the recipe, you're providing your readers with context.

Say you get a 1-star rating for your red velvet cupcake recipe but the comment is something along the lines of “I added two extra eggs and used rice flour instead of all-purpose flour and these cupcakes turned out terrible!”. From a reader's perspective, I would mentally remove this rating from the total. But if your recipe gets a 1-star rating with no comment behind it, your reader might just think that the recipe doesn't work and will skip over it.

The same thing goes for positive ratings! If I'm looking at a recipe that has comments like “I just made this dish tonight and my family couldn't get enough of it!” or “This is just like the way my grandmother used to make it!”, I'd be more inclined to try this recipe over one that “just” has 5 stars.

Screenshot of a 5-star rating from a Pinch of Yum recipe

Structured Data & Reviews

Finally, there's a structured data benefit to having your ratings be comment-associated! Tasty Recipes will include the review text for any comments that appear on the first page with the structured data. Including reviews is recommended by Google for complete structured data. If you ratings aren't comment-associated, these reviews won't be included.

In conclusion…

Star ratings aren't mandatory, and you'll still have a chance of showing up in Google Search Results without them, but you're likely to see more search traffic come in for a recipe that has ratings over one that doesn't!

And while it's ultimately up to you to decide whether or not to utilize comment-associated ratings for your site, just remember that any comments you receive along with a rating will provide your readers with context – and a little extra context never hurts. ?