Google Updates Search Ranking for Product Reviews

Google has released an update to its search algorithm that favors well-researched content over brief product summaries. This isn’t a major algorithm change that will have an effect on all search results. This update is clearly aimed at product reviews.

According to Google, “We know that 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.”

For the time being, this update only affects search results in English. Sites that do not post product reviews do not need to be concerned about this update.

Sites that post product reviews should keep a close eye on their traffic and watch for something odd. The algorithm update went live today, so site owners may have already seen changes in traffic and rankings.

The aim of the update is to bring product reviews that include ‘insightful content and original research,’ as well as reviews written by experts or enthusiasts who are well-versed in the topic, a higher SERP ranking.

This could alter how brands collect feedback from users and publications, with the goal of improving rankings using this fresh, more in-depth review rating approach.

Google has also given detailed guidance on what it hopes to better surface with this update:

  • 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?

Site owners should also publish comprehensive product reviews that provide references to similar products as well as past releases of the same product. Where possible, use objective analysis, such as the results of speed tests if you’re analyzing a device and other information that can help customers make a buying decision.

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