If you’re an online retailer or advertiser, you’ll need no introduction to the power of reviews. Likewise as a shopper, you’ll likely appreciate the insight you can get from a useful, unbiased review submitted by a genuine user of that product. In order to make those more detailed reviews easier to find, Google has this month rolled out its second product review update of the year.
Update 1: April
The first product reviews update was rolled out at the beginning of April. At the time, Google explained that it was intended to help consumers find more detailed and in-depth reviews.
In an official announcement, the search engine said, “We know people appreciate product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products. That’s why we’re sharing an improvement to our ranking systems, which we call the product reviews update, that’s designed to better reward such content.”
It suggested that reviews which offered information such as research-based benefits and drawbacks, comparisons with similar products, improvements versus previous models and quantitative performance measurements could be considered to be more insightful.
Update 2: December
The most recent update was timed to roll out at the November 2021 core algorithm completed its own roll out. As with the April version, this roll out is expected to last around three weeks and is directed at English language content only.
Data shared by SEMRush and RankRanger shortly after roll out commenced suggested that the December update is causing more ranking fluctuations and volatility than April’s did. However, it’s important to remember that the roll out isn’t yet complete so if you are seeing your rankings moving up and down a lot, it may well settle down within the next week or so as the roll out rounds up.
What should you do if your traffic has fallen?
Google’s intention with this update is to make better quality product information more visible, with low quality, thin or repetitive product reviews demoted down the rankings. While the standard advice not to make sudden knee-jerk reactions and changes still stands, there are steps you can take to improve your content and potentially re-gain some of those lost rankings.
Google says its “focus overall is on providing users with content that provides insightful analysis and original research, content written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well” so, if your traffic or rankings have dropped, it’s worth asking yourself if you could provide better product information overall to your site visitors.
There are two tips from Google to keep in mind too. It says that product reviewers should consider adding evidence such as links or images which speak to their own experiences with the products in question. Including links to many different merchants is also recommended, so those in the market to buy a product can do their own research and buy from a seller of their own choosing.
And of course, if you’re creating product comparison-style content, ensure that you appoint a writer who has detailed and first-person knowledge of the products in question and is capable of providing helpful comparisons and opinions, not just re-iterate manufacturer or seller info.