In recent times, Google is devoting more and more attention to the e-commerce features of its search engine, both by studying solutions to enrich the experience of users interested in searching for information on products to evaluate the possible purchase, both with tools designed for sites engaged in sales. Examples are, among others, the Google Shopping showcase made free, the inclusion of popular products in SERP or, recently, indications on how to improve product information. Just in these hours, in the United States, has debuted another initiative in this direction, namely the update of the search algorithm dedicated to product reviews.

Update for the product reviews algorithm on Google

The news comes from the Search Central blog, with an article signed by Perry Liu, software engineer, and Danny Sullivan, public liaison for Search, which highlights the main news of this update, which generates “an improvement of our ranking systems, which we call product reviews update“, in original product reviews update. The intervention serves to show the most useful and advantageous information possible for users: having verified that people “appreciate product reviews that share in-depth researches, rather than sparse content that simply synthesize a range of products,” Google designed the update precisely to reward such content and make it emerge better in SERP. The update, which “will further help those who produce rich content in the product reviews area“, was released on April 8 and “for now only covers reviews in English”.

What the goals of the Google update on product reviews are

To be clear, this is not an update of the basic algorithm that affects all search results, but an intervention that specifically addresses product reviews, reviews of articles and various objects. Yet, despite being separate from regular core updates, the recommendations for producing quality content “are relevant here too”. As a general objective, in fact, Google intends to “show users content that provides in-depth analysis and original searches, and that are written by experts or enthusiasts who know the subject well”. In practice, this means that Google aims to promote in the rankings of search results the content of reviews that are unique and stand out from those of competitor sites, going beyond most of the information based on models that we see on the Web. Reviews with short product summaries are generally found on affiliated sites, which focus more on making quick commissions than on providing actual value to users. What Google is trying to bring out now are reviews with “holistic analysis of products“, which include, for example, comparisons with similar products or previous versions, or which provide quantitative analyses whenever possible and all the data that can help consumers to make a purchase decision.

Who is impacted by the update

While not being a broad core update, this update could still cause some jolts in SERP, although technically it should only affect the content of the product review and not other types of content. Obviously, sites that do not publish product reviews have nothing to worry about, but on the contrary, sites that publish product reviews may be interested in them and should closely monitor their traffic in search of any fluctuation out of the ordinary in traffic or rankings. However, Google does not directly punish reviews of lower quality products (those that provide sparse content that merely synthesize generic information) but it could bring out in their place sites that post more in-depth review content. As in the classic case of post-update decline, in short, in these cases there is no penalty from which to recover, but a qualitative gap to try to fill.

How to write quality product reviews for Google

As said, for Google a product review is useful if it provides detailed information written “by experts or enthusiasts who know the subject well”, and is not simply a reprocessing of information already provided by the manufacturer and present elsewhere on the Web. The article also presents a list of additional helpful indications “to consider in terms of product reviews for those who create content”, which are then used to check whether the content published by the site meets the characteristics and requirements that Google considers priority. Specifically, reviews should:

  • Express expertise on products, where appropriate.
  • Show how physically the product is or how it is used, with unique content in addition to those provided by the manufacturer.
  • Provide quantitative measurements on how a product behaves in various performance categories.
  • Explain what distinguishes a product from its competitors.
  • Analyze comparable products to consider or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances.
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a particular product, based on specific research.
  • Describe how a product has evolved over previous models or versions to provide improvements, fix problems or otherwise help users make a purchase decision.
  • Identify the key decision factors for the product category and how the product behaves in those areas. For example, “a car overhaul might determine that fuel savings, safety and manageability are key decision factors and performance assessments in those areas”.
  • Describe the key choices in the way a product has been designed and their effect on users, beyond what the manufacturer says.

Call to action