What’s Behind the New Google Product Review Update?

Google has rolled out a new search algorithm update, which the search company terms a “product review update.” The idea behind the refresh is to give ranking preference to product reviews that, “share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products.”

So what does this mean? Google seems to consistently push search in the direction of rewarding deeper and more authoritative content. This update seems to be in that vein. Google wants to reward publishers that put in the work and share in-depth and research-supported product information. And by suggestion punish those offering generic, cut-and-paste product descriptions.


“Although this is separate from our regular core updates, the advice that we provide about producing quality content for those is also relevant here. The overall focus is on providing users with content that provides insightful analysis and original research,” Google said. “And is written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well.”

The screenshot below shows a list from Google’s update announcement. It’s meant to help creators understand if they are facing a potential ranking problem. Notably, Google says that while this is not a core algorithm update, much of its guidance for core updates remains applicable.


Is This a Big Deal?

Reaction around the search industry was fairly mild. One common takeaway was that eCommerce businesses ] need to devote more attention to review content.

Search Engine Land contributor Barry Schwartz had this to say about the update. “If your website offers product review content, you will want to check your rankings to see if you were impacted. Did your Google organic traffic improve, decline or stay the same?” Barry wrote. “Long term, you are going to want to ensure…that you put a lot more detail and effort into your product review content so that it is unique and stands out from the competition on the web.”

Writing at Search Engine Journal. Matt Southern offered a few thoughts on what publishers should do to avoid getting on the wrong side of this update.

“It sounds like Google will pay close attention to whether a review offers information that goes beyond what the manufacturer provides,” Matt writes. “In other words, don’t go to a product page and rewrite what’s already on the web.”

So again, this seems like a fairly common-sense update consistent with Google’s ongoing push to favor deep, authoritative content.

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