Earlier in April, Google announced a new product reviews update that has been rolling out over recent weeks, causing some serious impacts to Australian businesses across the board.
Often when Google announces algorithm updates, we tense a little in preparation for impact and most often, save for certain core updates, not much impact is felt. While this update is not a core update, it’s been shaking up the SEO world and had a significant impact on Australian businesses.
What you need to know about the new product reviews algorithm
The latest update is a product reviews algorithm designed to reward strong reviews that offer “in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products”. Businesses that work heavily with reviews as a strategy for bringing in customers may have already noticed some big shifts as a result of this update.
Those with well-researched reviews from customers or users that have taken the time to provide “insightful analysis” will probably have seen a boost in SEO power of late. In contrast, those with “thin content” could be looking at a hit. Since the update, some businesses have reported losses of as much as 50%, and high volatility is being witnesses on industry trackers.
- This update is across all sectors. From e-commerce to health, if you have product reviews enabled on your site, you will be experiencing the flux of this update
- Google Discover traffic will likely be impacted
- User-generated product review content is probably not going to be as useful as before.
Of course, the most obvious challenge is that businesses (mostly) don’t write this content themselves. User-generated content is unlikely to be an extensively researched analysis on each product which is then compared to the market, etc. Peer reviews are basically out, and professional reviews are in.
So far, it looks as though this update is only impacting product review content, not any other content forms. However, the solution to this update will definitely impact other forms of content.
Businesses that have seen a negative impact are going to have to review their content and look at how it can be improved to encourage better reviews. Even those who see a positive impact will need to do the same to ensure their success is not simply a fluke that may be corrected when competitors change tactics.
While the aim of this update is to improve the quality of the reviews so that they are “rewarded” with higher rankings, the reality is that pivoting to this change means trying to control the people who review your products.
If the overall focus is on “providing users with content that provides insightful analysis and original research written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well,” then you need to try and design a strategy to attract this kind of reviewer to your products and leave them pretty explicit “guidelines” on how to write a review.
The advice from Google is to improve the information you offer to customers online. For example, don’t use the generic manufacturer details. Use unique and descriptive content, as this could help reviewers to write more informed reviews. We would also recommend prompting them with questions in the review process to consider the criteria you need to rank when writing your reviews.
To talk with SEO experts on where to go from here, get in touch with the team at Next&Co.