Followed by an early November Spam Update and a Core Algorithm Update that finished rolling out at the end of November, Google recently rolled out another update named “December 2021 Product Reviews Update”. Released by Google Search Central’s Twitter handle on December 1, 2021 at about 12:30pm ET, this update that is now rolling out for English-language pages will take only about three weeks to complete. Our search engine optimization company keeps track of new Google updates and trends, and understands how it can impact our clients’ digital marketing campaigns.
April Product Review Update and December Product Review Update
Back in April 2021, a similar Search algorithm update – product reviews update – was launched by Google. The update was designed to better reward product review content. Rather than the thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products, people appreciated in-depth researched content. It is expected that this update will help writers generating rich content in the product reviews area. According to Google, “the overall focus of this update – which is not a core update – is on providing users with content that provides insightful analysis and original research, and is written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well”.
However, the December product review update may change how your product reviews rank in search results. In particular, websites that have made positive changes to their content since the last product review update, may see that improvement reflected in this latest release.
NOTE: Changes can happen at any time for various reasons because, Google’s automated assessment of product review content is only one of many factors used in ranking content.
After rolling out the April update, Google received more feedback from users on what type of review content is considered as trustworthy and useful – that is, users trust reviews with evidence of products actually being tested, and prefer to have more options to purchase the product. It is based on such user feedback that Google works to provide additional product review guidance. They introduced two new best practices for product reviews that include:
- Product evidence including audio, visuals, or other links demonstrating the user’s experience with a particular product. This helps to support user’s expertise and reinforce the authenticity of their review, rather than the low-quality reviews that are clearly affiliate sites posting bogus reviews which are quite similar to rewritten versions of the product specifications.
- Offer multiple buying options by including links for multiple sellers. This practice will give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.
Though Google hasn’t mentioned that these best practices are their “ranking factors,” they do say that these best practices can potentially become ranking factors in the future.
The April Product Review Update also introduced some best practices when it rolled out, which have now been merged into a single documentation page named “Write high quality product reviews.”
The rollout of this update has upset some webmasters because they think that it is untimely for Google to apply algorithm updates during the busiest shopping season, even though subjectively these updates have not been too disruptive. However, considering the unpredictable behavior of algorithm updates, it would be most unfortunate if legitimate product review sites unintentionally lose rankings during this critical time of the year.
Technically, according to Google, the latest update is not a penalty against a website’s content. They are just rewarding sites with more insightful review content with rankings, which means that this latest update should only impact product review content and not other types of content.
Does your website offer product review content? If you want to find out if your rankings have been impacted by this new update, we can help you. As a company offering organic SEO services, we keep track of all search engine algorithmic updates or core updates and can help you prepare for them. Call (800) 941-5527.