Rolled out for the first time in April 2021 on English search results, the Google’s first update on pages that are positioned on queries associated with tests, tops and product reviews will now be even more selective since of new criteria entered into force in a new version of the update launched since March 23, 2022. The update will take several weeks to deploy on English search results.
Google Reviews Update: Not to be confused with Rich Snippets dedicated to displaying stars in search results
Although the title of this Google update may lead us to believe that it will target the display of rich snippets responsible for displaying yellow stars placed under search results properly marked up with Schema.org structured data, this Google update actually has a different purpose: to promote real product tests to the detriment of “fake” tests optimized for SEO whose sole purpose is to take advantage of income from affiliation (usually Amazon) without carrying out “real” tests.
What is the purpose of this new Product Review Ranking Update?
Google wantsthrough this Product Review Update, reward expert content and penalize content that it considers to be “thin content”, of low quality (whose sole objective is to redirect the Internet user to an online store to obtain an affiliate commission without being an expert or having carried out a real test of the product).
What types of pages and articles are targeted by this Google update?
- Pages and articles positioning themselves on requests of the type “review (product name)” / “test (product name)”;
- The “listicles”, these articles which present the “best products” of a product category and are positioned on requests of the “best (product type)” types (eg the best 5g smartphones”).
What types of pages are not affected by the product review update 2022?
- The product sheets of online stores that include customer reviews.
- Pages that don’t test a product or share a review.
Which languages are affected by this update?
For the moment, only English search results are affected but Google plans to quickly roll out this update to more languages, without giving specific timelines or details.
The French results could thus quickly be affected by a similar update, hence the interest of preparing for it as quickly as possible to anticipate the effects as best as possible.
What are the criteria taken into account by this Google update targeting pages and articles presenting “reviews” on products?
For Google, a good product “review” is going to be a page that:
- Proves that the product has actually been tested by the author : in its guidelines, Google indicates that the author must be able to “prove” his experience with the product in order to highlight his expertise and reinforce the authenticity of his opinion.
- Incorporates unique visuals, photos, graphics, videos, sounds and test results in the content and not duplicated from other sites.
- Offers multiple purchase options (if any) to the user instead of just one option (Google indirectly targets MFAs (made for amazon) here who redirect all their traffic to Amazon only to profit from Amazon affiliation).
What questions should be asked to assess the relevance of a test / product review page according to Google’s quality criteria?
During the first April 2021 update, Google had shared a series of questions that the authors of the tests and opinions produced could ask themselves before publishing their content to assess whether their content meets the quality guidelines of the American search enginehere they are :
- Does the article demonstrate the author’s product expertise when necessary? By this question, Google
- Does the content offer exclusive photo or video content that shows what the product looks like and/or how it is used?
- Isn’t the article limited to adding photos from the manufacturer?
- Does the article provide proprietary test data on specific criteria? Ex: battery life of a device during different use cases, photo quality for a camera during different types of shots, etc.
- Does the test article indicate what distinguishes the tested product from other similar / comparable competitive products?
- Does the content include a section on the best alternatives to the tested product according to use cases or specific needs that the Internet user might have?
- Does the article present the advantages / disadvantages of the tested product based on the tests carried out?
- Does the page present how the product has evolved vis-à-vis its previous versions (when the case arises)?
- Does the article provide information on the performance of the product according to the main selection criteria for this type of product with the granting of scores for the various criteria identified? Eg, for a smartphone: battery life, photo quality, screen quality, etc.
- Does the article objectively judge the ergonomics of the product, its design and the possible impact on use, freeing itself from the manufacturer’s marketing discourse?
With this second version of the update, authors will also have to ask themselves the following question:
- If the article includes links to buy the tested product online, are there several purchasing options offered to the Internet user and not links to a single online store?
What are Google’s recommendations for “product listing” articles?
In the announcement of the new version of its March 2022 update on pages positioning themselves on queries associated with product reviews, Google devoted a section dedicated to pages that make product selections and thus target search queries. “best (product type)” type.
Here are Google’s recommendations for these:
- Although the search engine does not expect in these articles to have detailed tests of each product, it recommends the integration for each product listed of a synthesis of a test carried out with the addition of unique photos.
- Provide “evidence” or arguments that justify the ranking order of the products.
- If possible, have detailed tests of each product listed in a “listicle” type article without neglecting the amount of content integrated into the article which lists the best products of a selection.
What example to follow to not be negatively impacted by this update?
Although the Google teams do not present concrete examples of the content they consider to meet their quality guidelines, here is an example that perfectly illustrates for me the type of content expected by the search engine: product tests carried out by Les Numériques, a site specializing in high-tech known for its product testing.
Here are a few points that I think make this a good example to study:
- In their tests, the specialized journalists follow a similar test process by product type in order to be able to compare products in the same category as objectively as possible.
- The tests incorporate their own photos taken during their tests.
- On some tests, test videos are also added.
- The advantages and disadvantages of the tested products are presented objectively.
- The limitations of the tested product are stated and alternatives are presented to the reader.
- The site adds on all of its tests redirection links to different shops where Internet users can buy the tested product (these links are of course affiliate links).
In view of the Google recommendations listed above, this type of article generally seems to correspond well to what Google considers in its guidelines to be a quality product review, written by an expert and sharing proof of its test carried out.
What do you think of this new update from Google? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.