Google is constantly updating its algorithm to ensure users get the best search results.
From the Panda update in 2011 to ongoing core updates, the search engine constantly introduces changes to ensure the most helpful content appears at the top of the page.
Following this approach, Google has introduced yet another update—this time focused on product reviews.
So, we analyzed the data to determine the big winners in the wake of the 2022 product review update.
Now, everyone who’s been shopping online for a while knows product reviews are extremely important.
A Trustpilot study shows 9 out of 10 users prefer reading product reviews before shopping online. In fact, a BrightLocal study shows nearly 80 percent of users trust online product reviews as much as they value personal product recommendations from friends and family.
While product reviews are popular in general, a Bizrate Insights study shows Google is the most popular channel for finding product reviews.
This means, if you have an e-commerce site or work on publishing product reviews on Google, you need to pay attention to Google’s product review update for the best results.
Confused about what Google’s product review update is and where to get started?
Don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
I’ve got a few tips to help you navigate the product review update.
What’s New With Google’s Product Review Update?
Announced on Google’s Search Central blog in 2021, Google’s product review update is aimed at rewarding users publishing the most helpful reviews first, whether or not they are positive overall.
In a nutshell, this means Google will display in-depth, informative product reviews at the top of search results while “thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products” will appear at the bottom.
For instance, product reviews that focus on product specifications, discuss how it helps, and include pros and cons of the item might be prioritized more than product reviews that only talk about how “good” or “bad” the product is.
The idea behind this decision is to ensure users are getting trustworthy advice, minus the fluff.
So now, instead of having to scroll through hundreds of low-quality reviews, users can directly read specific, informative, and detailed reviews to make the right shopping decisions.
This update is currently limited to English-language reviews, but it may soon expand to other languages as well. Therefore, if you’re in the e-commerce industry, it’s better to be prepared.
You may have to rethink your product review strategy.
What We Found About the 2022 Review Update
To help you put together a solid product review strategy, we analyzed over 20 sites that made major improvements or rough declines over time.
We used Semrush Winners & Losers to collect this data and report which sites are getting it right and improving their presence with search engines. Winners are sites that saw the largest keyword expansion month over month (MoM), and losers are sites that took a hit to their keyword universe.
The data from August, September, and October showed us who was winning and losing prior to the update, during the month of the September update, and after the update.
After determining each month’s winners and losers, we analyzed their keyword universes for each month to determine what had changed in the SERPs, yielding the drastic changes we saw.
Here were the winners over the last three months:
Let’s take a look at how these sites won over Google’s heart.
What We Learned From Our Data
We saw a number of changes among the top performers between August and October. You may have noticed changes with your site, too.
In August, sites like eBay, Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot were the top winners. It appears Google favored e-commerce-based sites, as these websites saw exponential keyword growth.
Losers in August included Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Wikipedia. These are social networking and informational-based sites that seemed to have taken a hit.
Sites with a large amount of content that may not be the most up-to-date may have taken a nosedive because of Google’s helpful content update (HCU), which rolled out in late August. Google saw a 1.4% decrease in the overall keyword universe from July to August.
- Twitter dropped from 54,448,904 keywords in positions 1-20 in July to 52,004,871 keywords in positions 1-20 in August.
- LinkedIn saw a 5.26% decrease in overall keyword universe.
- Wikipedia saw a 1.6% decrease in its keyword universe MoM.
In September, we see that Google redeemed itself, claiming the top winning spot. Following Google are social networking sites like YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.
Following the HCU, the September core algorithm update and product reviews update seem to have pushed social networking sites to the top. Meanwhile, e-commerce sites dropped out of the top spots.
These social networking sites saw exponential growth in their keyword universes.
- Google saw a 3.21% increase in its keyword universe.
- Twitter regained 1-20 keyword ranking positions and saw a 5.56% increase, landing at 54,899,877 keywords.
- YouTube saw a 3.6% increase in its keyword universe.
- Pinterest saw a 4.43% increase in its overall keyword universe, and a 5% increase in its page 1 keywords.
September losers in terms of keyword universe were sites that I wouldn’t trust clicking on without getting a virus on my computer. Perhaps this shows that spammy sites were experiencing keyword loss, a sign Google was able to weed those out. This may be Google’s way of continuously trying to serve helpful, accurate content from trusted sites.
Following all the Google updates, we see that social networking sites are still the top winners for keyword growth and expansion in October. The top winners were YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Twitter saw a 4.4% increase in October following the September updates and landed at 57,272,225 keywords owned.
- YouTube saw an almost 8% increase in its keyword universe, landing at 452,210,446 total keywords owned.
- TikTok saw an astounding increase at 13.7% MoM for its total keyword universe.
- Instagram saw a similar increase to Twitter, with a 4.5% increase MoM.
In October, sites like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Google saw substantial losses in keyword universe MoM. Google lost 47.7 million, Amazon 10.1 million, eBay 8.3 million, and Walmart 6.7 million.
Following the updates in September, along with headwinds from inflation, we see shopping/e-commerce sites getting hit and losing substantial numbers of keywords.
This was an interesting turn, considering how social e-commerce has grown rapidly over the years. Yet, the data really spoke to Google cleaning house and, through updates, encouraging sites to clean house as well.
5 Tips for High-Quality Product Reviews
If the Google product review update sounds like a lot of work so far, don’t let the changes scare you.
There’s an interesting silver lining here.
Along with this update, Google has offered a lot of guidelines to help you adapt your content strategy to ensure your product reviews are ranking higher.
To help you even more, I’ve outlined a list of five strategies for creating high-quality product reviews, so your content appears first and draws plenty of organic traffic. This way, you’re helping your audience make better buying decisions while also finding new readers organically.
Ready to level up your product review game?
Here are the best tips, tricks, and strategies with actionable steps to improve the quality of your product reviews to be in line with Google’s product review update.
1. Provide Visuals of the Product
Take a moment, and ask yourself this question: What would you prefer when you’re buying a new product? Would you want to read long descriptions of how the product works, or would you like to see someone use the product?
Most people prefer option 2. They want to see the product in action and see what it looks like from different angles.
Studies show visual content is processed faster and with less effort since people read only 20% of the words on a page. You can also see this in action on social media sites like Facebook where posts with images get 2.3X more engagement than those without images.
Google noticed this and now prioritizes product reviews that include “evidence of products being tested.”
Hard to imagine what a visual product review looks like?
Here’s an example of a product review with real visuals by Tom’s Guide, a tech product review site.
Honest feedback can truly help shape consumer decisions, so Google is now urging affiliate review sites and other product review publishers to offer real reviews with visual evidence of the product being tested.
This means your product reviews will rank higher if they include real images, videos, and other “evidence” content proving you have actually tried the product (with possible penalties for stock photos).
2. Provide Multiple Links to Purchase From
Wouldn’t it be nice to have options when buying a product online?
What if you love a product but don’t want to buy it from Amazon?
Wouldn’t you be more likely to make the purchase if you have different buying options?
It’s true. Online shopping is more convenient when you have multiple product varieties and sellers to choose from.
That’s why Google’s product review update will now prioritize product reviews that offer “links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.”
Say you’re writing an affiliate post on Samsung tablets. Instead of offering just an Amazon link to buy the product, include links to the official Samsung website, BestBuy, eBay, and other retailers so the user has many options to choose from.
The best part? This doesn’t require you to go out of your way. You can just add multiple affiliate links on the same page, right next to each other.
Here’s an example from Digital Trends showing how you can add multiple retailer links to your product reviews.
3. Write With the User in Mind
When you’re shopping online and reading product reviews, what do you look for?
You look for details about the product, and particularly about how other buyers have experienced the item.
This can include questions like: Did it break easily? Does the color fade over time? Does it pair well with other items?
This is the kind of information most users are looking for in product reviews. If you want to publish genuinely helpful, high-quality product reviews, make sure you’re including this information in your content.
Doing this will position you as an authoritative source and an expert in your industry. This has the potential to increase reader loyalty and eventually boost your conversion rate.
Remember, not only are you helping your readers make the best shopping decisions but you’re also positioning yourself as a leader in the field. It’s a win-win situation.
4. Explain How the Product Is Better Than Competitors’
Sometimes reading about the product in a review isn’t enough. Say I want to buy a tablet but I’m confused between Samsung and Apple. What will I do? I’ll search for articles highlighting the differences between the two.
This is where product comparison reviews shine. If your product review is explaining how one item is better than the competitors’, you’re more likely to help the consumer make the decision.
Here is an example of a comparison product review posted on the Chicago Tribune.
The new Google product review update is prioritizing such reviews that offer information comparing competitor products. Ultimately, if you want to rank higher, try to explain how product X is better (or worse) than what the competitor has to offer.
5. Include More Details Than the Manufacturer
Consumers often turn to product reviews because they want more information than what the manufacturer has to offer. When you want your reviews to be helpful, make sure you’re providing something new. These should be details the consumer can’t find on the manufacturer or retailer website.
Some examples of extra details include answering:
- How does the product feel in your hand?
- How long does the product last?
- Where does it break/tear/fade?
- What are the real difficulties in using the product?
- What are the unexpected benefits of using the product?
Frequently Asked Questions
Getting customers to review your business takes simply asking them to review your item. If you make it easy for them to review on the product page, they will likely gladly leave one. You can also send them a follow-up messages reminding them to submit a review.
You can delete negative reviews, but I recommend you don’t. Show top-notch customer service instead. Wondering how to respond to negative reviews? It takes embracing them by responding quickly. Investigate what went wrong and take the time to show your customer you care to make things right.
The more reviews your users leave, the more you can climb up the Google rankings and make it easier for clients to find you or learn more about you. An average of between 4.2 to 4.5 out of 5 stars is a good landing spot overall.
Responding to reviews shows that you care, so show your appreciation to your customer. You don’t have to respond all by yourself. Train your team on how to respond too if you don’t have a designated customer care rep.
I suggest taking the time to respond within seven days. Over 50% of consumers expect brands to reply in that given period.
Google frequently introduces changes to its algorithm to offer the best search experience to its users. The latest product review update focuses on prioritizing genuinely helpful reviews.
Affiliate site owners and e-commerce businesses should take special note of these changes as their business model may depend on product reviews.
Use the strategies I’ve outlined in this post to help you write and publish in-depth, informative, substantial product reviews that rank higher and drive organic traffic.
How will you improve your product reviews to stay in line with Google’s product review update?
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