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Understanding Google’s product reviews update | The Audit Lab
Learn more about the new Google product reviews update with us. Who and what does it impact? What review content will benefit? We cover it all.
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Understanding Google’s product review update

Understanding Google’s product review update

Who doesn’t love a product review? Let’s rephrase that. Who doesn’t love a good product review? Before we make that buying decision, reading from those in the know can give us so much value. And Google wants to do more to reward creators who write expert and trustworthy reviews. By reward they mean improving rankings with their product reviews update! In turn, users get rewarded by seeing amazing review content more easily; win-win! 

First though, some facts on the update

Update type: Stand-alone and not a core update

Launch date: 8 April 2021

Rollout period: Around two weeks 

Language: English only for now

Why: To better reward high-quality, expert review content with higher ranking

Why is Google looking closer at product review content now?

Those who understand more about how Google works know that it’s always adapting and working to meet searchers’ demands and behaviours; just look at the mobile-first and Core Web Vitals updates we’ve covered.

Recently and on top of those, it’s recognised that product reviews are actually a big asset to Google in terms of search intent because of the high appreciation of them. How have they assessed this? Through incredibly thorough testing, experimenting, and review processes

So, to show Google’s appreciation, there’s a ranking system improvement rolling out with a product reviews update – great news for reviewers, content creators and searchers! 

What kind of review content does Google like?

Their overall focus on this product reviews update is “on providing users with content that provides insightful analysis and original research, and is written by experts or enthusiasts who know the topic well.”  They’ve also given some questions for content creators to take note of when putting out product reviews, do they:

  • Express expert knowledge about products where appropriate?
  • Show what the product is like physically, or how it is used, with unique content beyond what’s provided by the manufacturer?
  • Provide quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance?
  • Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors?
  • Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances?
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on research into it?
  • 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?
  • Identify key decision-making factors for the product’s category and how the product performs in those areas? For example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas.
  • Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says?

So, as you can see, it’s not about a quick review with a thumbs up or down, Google loves “product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarises a bunch of products.”

Will the update just focus on product reviews, or can it affect service reviews?

Danny Sullivan, Google’s Public Search Liaison, says: “while the focus is on products, service reviews may also benefit from this update.”

What about ’round up’ reviews?

Whether single or round-up reviews, the update will look to improve both, and all types of product reviews. So those ‘Top 10…’ round-ups are included. 

Will the algorithm update evaluate sites as a whole or on a URL by URL basis?


John Mueller, Search Advocate at Google, says: “these kinds of changes tend to be more on broader parts of sites, or the sites overall.”

When will it rollout to other languages?

Google has no specific time frame on this. At the moment, it currently involves English language reviews, but Danny Sullivan (the Public Search Liaison guy) imagines when it does, they will provide guidance. 

What about customer reviews, is this a part of it?

This update is more for “affiliate-like content and not ecommerce sites with customer reviews for products, i.e. where affiliates might be reviewing one product or a set of products on one page (and not an ecommerce product page),” John Mueller states. Meaning, don’t worry about your pages that allow and have customer reviews on, this update is more for rewarding those niche and industry review sites or expert pieces. 

We also love this tweet to sum it up:

If you’re a review site or a business looking to get reviewers to take notice of you and your products and services, we can help! Here at The Audit Lab, we have years of experience in getting brands’ names, products and services out there, as well delivering amazing content marketing, digital PR and SEO strategies! Contact us today to see what we can do for you.

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