Studies have proven that online product reviews can greatly impact up to 91% of our consumer decisions. As content creators, it becomes our responsibility to develop review content that warrants people’s trust.
Every time Google releases an update, we see that the algorithm adjusts its assessment strategies, affecting our site rankings and traffic to a large extent. On April 8, 2021, Google announced an essential search engine algorithm update called the Product Reviews Update. The update mainly focuses on product review websites and aims to provide “product reviews that share in-depth research.”
Simply put, Google wishes to reward the review pages that put in the effort to give users an expert outlook of the products they review instead of “thin content that simply summarises a bunch of products.” By implementing this update, Google intends to improve the user experience and provide users with honest, in-depth reviews of products.
So what is this update all about, and what do you need to do to increase your site rankings? Keep reading to find out more.
What does it impact?
Google officially launched the update on April 8 and announced that the rollout would take around two weeks. True to their words, a significant change in the website rankings was visible from the third week of April, with many sites witnessing a sharp increase and decline in their rankings.
As we mentioned, the focus of the update lies in product reviews and affiliate-like pages. However, Google’s Danny Sullivan did clarify that “while the focus is on products, service reviews may also benefit from this update.” He also said that it would impact all types of product reviews, including single reviews and round-ups.
Google’s John Mueller said, “these kinds of changes tend to be more on the broader parts of sites or the sites overall.” So if you’re looking to improve your site rankings and traffic following the update, make sure you focus not only on optimizing your web pages but also on the overall website and its sections. The update has also affected many websites’ visibility on Discover. Although the Product Reviews Update is not a core update, it certainly seems to function like one, almost similar to the previous core update they’d launched back in December 2020.
However, unlike a broad core update, the scope of the target content is small, and hence, as Sullivan said, Google aims for periodic refreshes. This is extremely crucial as you might not be notified when the refreshes happen which means that you constantly have to make sure your website adheres to the guidelines and fares well. The update is not punitive and is only meant to reward high-quality content with more rankings and traffic.
What can you do?
For starters, going through Google’s post about the Product Reviews Update will help you a great deal. In their post, you will find some essential questions to ask yourself as content creators before putting up a product review. The questions range from whether your reviews “express expert knowledge” to whether it “discusses the benefits and drawbacks of the product.” Looking into these questions will help make your content more unique, original, and detailed as opposed to “thin” reviews.
Google says, “the overall focus is on providing users with content that provides insightful analysis and original research.” You need to ensure that the product is reviewed by someone who has expertise in that particular field so that a comprehensive analysis is given instead of common knowledge. People find expert opinions more trustworthy and tend to be attracted more to reviews that give knowledge.
Google has strictly prohibited sales language and does not promote making sales in the disguise of a review. Your product reviews need to be as transparent as possible, and this can be done only when both the pros and cons of a product are explained to the reader. This way, they can make an informed choice before buying something. Rather than presenting the manufacturer’s view, your review needs to give your perspective of the product as a user yourself.
By “thin,” Google does not mean to emphasize the word count but the value of your review. You need to review the product in such a way that it answers most of the questions in the user’s mind regarding purchasing the product and not create more confusion. If you’re giving round-up reviews, it is always best to make a comparative analysis as it will help the user to make better decisions.
Having said that, it is important that your review content is not just fluffed up stuff and is rich with information. At the same time, it is best to avoid heavy jargon and marketing language. The review is targeted at common people who might not be well-versed with the technicalities of the product. It should be written in such a way that the reader can relate to what the reviewer is trying to say. Adding personal touches to the review is one way to achieve this, as it makes the review less one-sided and more interactive.
It is also essential to improve the content, UX, and advertising strategies frequently as this gives more chances to increase your site’s rankings.
Most of the product review websites whose rankings dropped failed to meet the criteria put forth by Google, and their traffic saw a visible decline. If you have found a drop in your rankings, then don’t worry, you can increase your rankings by updating your existing web pages, especially your top-ranking ones. The best way to tackle a search engine update is to create as much fresh content as possible. This can affect your site rankings to a great extent.
As we mentioned, the update focuses on the quality of your website and sections overall and not just some web pages. You must also be patient and wait until the next refresh to determine how your site is faring as per the new algorithm.