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Google Releases Product Review Update for the Holidays

According to the latest SEO news and updates, Google will begin rolling out an algorithm change for product review pages. The Product Review Update for December 2021 will take three weeks to complete, and many are expecting it to have a significant impact on SEO for the holiday season.

In April, a similar algorithm upgrade was released. Websites that have made improvements since the last product review update may expect those changes to be reflected in the latest update.

Before this, Google launched a spam update in early November and then released a core algorithm update later that month. Some may criticise Google’s decision to implement algorithm changes during the most lucrative shopping season, but these adjustments appear to have had little effect.

However, it would be a tragedy if legitimate product review websites inadvertently dropped in their rankings during this critical period.

Google Search Central announced the update on Twitter, saying that the December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out and will take about three weeks to complete for English-language pages.

Alan Kent, Google Developer Advocate, later posted a tweet, saying that this update is one of the several ranking signals. However, the goal is to benefit legitimate, quality reviews. He also said that the docs page lists Google’s recommendations for good reviews.

Kent also shed light on which sites are affected by the December 2021 product review update. He said sites that post product review articles would be affected, with the goal of improving the usefulness and quality of Google’s reviews.

Automated Assessment of Product Review Pages

Google’s post mentions an “automated assessment” focused on product reviews. It also states that product review pages are judged similarly to other web pages according to ranking factors. The search engine company mentioned that this “automated assessment” is just one of the many factors they use to rank content; therefore, any changes can happen for different reasons.

New Product Review Requirements

Google gave a clearer warning that it will implement two new product review requirements to target fraudulent reviews.

The first requirement is that a product review page must provide proof of the customer’s usage of the product being evaluated. This is because many low-quality reviews are from affiliated websites offering phoney product reviews that resemble rewritten versions of the product descriptions. The second requirement is that product reviews must provide a variety of purchase alternatives.

According to Google, users usually trust reviews if they provide evidence of the tested products. Therefore, the search engine company expects the reviews to have audio, visuals, or links to their purchase experience. These will also support the person’s expertise and boost the review’s authenticity. The users also like reviews that contain product alternatives, most likely in links to other products, as customers prefer more options when purchasing products.

Although Google doesn’t refer to these best practices as “ranking factors,” they promise to incorporate them into the product review algorithm updates in the future. So, these two requirements may eventually become full-fledged ranking factors.

Things to Consider in Terms of Product Reviews

Google’s new documentation called “Write high-quality product reviews” contains recommendations that one must follow to comply with the search engine company’s guidelines. According to the guide, site owners who want to create content must consider the things below.

The product must:

  • show expert knowledge about the product where appropriate
  • show how it is physically and how it is used, with a unique description distinct from what the manufacturer provided
  • give quantitative measurements about how the product measures up in various categories of performance
  • explain the uniqueness that sets the product apart from its competitors
  • include comparable products to explain which of the items is the most suitable for certain circumstances or uses
  • talk about the pros and cons of a particular product based on research
  • tell how the product evolved from various releases and models to address concerns, provide improvements, and help potential customers reach a purchase decision
  • describe key choices in how the product was designed and its effect on its users beyond the manufacturer’s description
  • distinguish key decision-making factors for the product category and how it performs in those areas. For instance, suppose a user is looking at a car review. It must determine the vehicle’s safety, handling, and fuel economy. All these are great rate performance and decision-making factors.

Potential to Backfire?

Because so many products are too costly to evaluate, some manufacturers use bots that produce fraudulent reviews with counterfeit pictures of the items. Therefore, some are wondering if these new requirements could backfire, making fraudulent review sites respond by using fake hands-on assessment images, content, and others.

Improve Your Brand Loyalty

Site owners and online businesses should aim to build their brand and create meaningful social proof to instil trust in their business. Listed below are useful tips for doing just that.

  1. Put reviews front and centre.
    Putting a couple of reviews right on the website’s front page can make for a better first impression for customers. If there are evaluations for specific products, one should post them on each product page. Webmasters may also create an entirely new page dedicated to displaying excellent testimonials.
  2. Get in the same social spaces as clients.
    The best approach to obtaining genuine feedback is to be friendly and accessible. One should make it simple for customers to access their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts from the online store to provide comments and ask queries.
  3. Follow up with customers.
    After a consumer makes a purchase, it’s a good idea to email them afterwards. Businesses are most likely to get a review right after the transaction. One should also remove as many barriers as possible between their request and their customer’s ability to submit a review.

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