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Big Updates from Google, again

Google, as always, makes sure we all stay busy and focused. This time, the “December 2021 Product Review Update (PRU)” has shown volatility and drastic changes in rankings across the board.

What does the update mean for you?

  • Pages with in-depth and comprehensive reviews of products will be rewarded
  • Product reviews should contain links to multiple sellers — allowing customers to make a purchase from a merchant of their choice
  • Affiliate sites with thin reviews will be considered less valuable

A similar algorithm update was launched in April. Websites that have made improvements since the last product review update may see those changes reflected in the new update.

This update is preceded by a spam update in early November, and a core algorithm update that concluded in late November.

While some may argue it’s ill-timed for Google to apply algorithm updates during the busiest shopping season, anecdotally these updates have not been too disruptive.

Yet it would be most unfortunate if legitimate product review sites unintentionally lost rankings during this critical time of the year.

New Product Review Best Practices
Google gave an advanced warning that they will be introducing two new product review requirements that are clearly aimed at fake product reviews.

The first requirement is that a product review page needs to provide evidence that the product in question has been used by the person reviewing it.

Many low quality reviews are clearly affiliate sites posting bogus reviews that are closer to rewritten versions of the product specifications.

The second requirement is that product reviews offer multiple buying options.

Google’s product review update states:

Users have told us that they trust reviews with evidence of products actually being tested, and prefer to have more options to purchase the product.<br /> Provide evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.<br /> Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.

Google’s recommendations include:

  • Share quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance.
  • Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision.
  • Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says.
  • Include links to other useful resources (your own or from other sites) to help a reader make a decision.

Promoting Quality Product Reviews

Many products are expensive to review, such as kayaks, which is why there are so many fake reviews that do not feature original images of the products because no kayak was actually reviewed.

One has to wonder if these new requirements could backfire by causing fake review sites to respond by adding fake hands-on assessment content and images.

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