Google has this week begun the rollout of their latest update to the product reviews element of their algorithm, targeting the ranking of product review related content on the web, in aim of helping users who value reviews.
This update originally started in April 2021, and has since had several announced updates throughout 2021 and 2022 - where they are clearly refining how they value product review content and what impact this has on SERPs (search engine result pages).
"Google product reviews update. The Google product reviews update aims to promote review content that is above and beyond much of the templated information you see on the web. Google said it will promote these types of product reviews in its search results rankings."
Google is not directly punishing lower-quality product reviews that have “thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products.” However, if you provide such content and find your rankings demoted because other content is promoted above yours, it will definitely feel like a penalty. Technically, according to Google, this is not a penalty against your content, Google is just rewarding sites with more insightful review content with rankings above yours.
Google added three new points of new advice for this third release of the products reviews update:
Are product review updates relevant to ranked lists and comparison reviews? Yes. Product review updates apply to all forms of review content. The best practices we’ve shared also apply. However, due to the shorter nature of ranked lists, you may want to demonstrate expertise and reinforce authenticity in a more concise way. Citing pertinent results and including original images from tests you performed with the product can be good ways to do this.
Are there any recommendations for reviews recommending “best” products? If you recommend a product as the best overall or the best for a certain purpose, be sure to share with the reader why you consider that product the best. What sets the product apart from others in the market? Why is the product particularly suited for its recommended purpose? Be sure to include supporting first-hand evidence.
If I create a review that covers multiple products, should I still create reviews for the products individually? It can be effective to write a high-quality ranked list of related products in combination with in-depth single-product reviews for each recommended product. If you write both, make sure there is enough useful content in the ranked list for it to stand on its own.
Technically, this update should only impact product review content and not other types of content.
What is new...
Unlike previous updates, it seems nothing specifically changed with any ranking criteria with this update. Google is likely just refreshing the algorithm and making slight adjustments.
This rollout will take “take 2-3 weeks to complete,” Google said. These, and core updates, normally take a few weeks to roll out, so that should be no surprise. You should expect the bulk of the ranking volatility to happen in the earlier stages of this rollout.
What is impacted?
Google said this update may in the future impact those who “create product reviews in any language,” but Google said the initial rollout will be “English-language product reviews.” Google added they have seen “positive effects” from this update in the past and the search company “plans to open up product review support for more languages” in the future.
What impact will it have for me?
If your website has product review content, you will want to check your rankings and traffic to the pages with this content, to see if you were impacted. Did your Google organic (SEO) traffic improve, decline, or stay the same?
Going forwards, we recommend that you put a lot more detail and effort into your product review content so that it is unique and stands out from the competition on the web.
You can find the updated guidance here: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/ecommerce/write-high-quality-product-reviews