Google continuously makes updates to its search engine algorithm. While most tweaks and changes occur behind the scenes, having only a minor effect on results, Google often announces updates that may have a larger impact. As an SEO agency, it’s our responsibility to monitor algorithm updates closely and implement any necessary changes to strategies and practices.
Recently, Google announced the “Product Reviews Update” which is aimed at rewarding reviews that include extra detail and in-depth research. Google are looking for reviews that contain original content, are insightful and show depth of knowledge. The change will promote review content that stands apart from the low-quality or templated reviews that are often found across the internet. While there will not be a penalty for low-quality reviews, if competitors are elevated because the quality of their reviews is higher, then it will certainly have a noticeable impact for site owners.
Google is implementing these changes to improve the search engine’s overall experience and results. Online reviews are an important factor in digital marketing, not just SEO. This change shifts the focus of reviews towards quality over quantity, weighting reviews differently based on the content the user has submitted.
In their announcement, Google specifically reference an improvement to their “ranking systems”, confirming this change as a ranking factor. The article goes on to detail that “the advice that we provide about producing quality content is also relevant here”, meaning that the same guidelines SEO agencies must follow for website content are applicable to reviews – such as EAT.
Google has supplied the questions below for site owners to analyse and improve their reviews:
- Express expert knowledge about products where appropriate?
- Show what the product is like physically, or how it is used, with unique content beyond what’s provided by the manufacturer?
- Provide quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance?
- Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors?
- Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances?
- Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on research into it?
- Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision?
- Identify key decision-making factors for the product’s category and how the product performs in those areas? For example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas.
- Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says?
The announcement certainly brings reviews into the spotlight within the SEO community and we’ll be paying close attention to other changes in the future. We’d recommend any of our clients to re-evaluate their review collection procedures, with these changes in mind, to gain the maximum value from them going forward.
If you have any questions related to this update or search engine optimisation in general, please get in touch!