As the leading global search engine, Google is constantly undergoing updates to enhance the user experience. One significant feature of Google is its reviews, which enable users to make informed decisions about products, services, media, and more. Previously, Google’s reviews system solely evaluated product reviews on company sites; however, it now takes services, media, destinations, and other topics into account.
This change has led to the system being renamed from Google’s “product reviews system” to “reviews system.” As a result, the language used has shifted in various parts of Google’s guidance documentation regarding product reviews to encompass all review types.
The announcement was made on Twitter on 12 April 2023, and we’re here to delve further into what this means for users and businesses globally.
A Shift from “Product Reviews” to “Reviews”
Ultimately, the shift from “product reviews” to “reviews” is a significant one, particularly for the language used by Google when it comes to evaluating onsite reviews. Naturally, the language has been forced to become more generic to account for the various types. For instance, “people” are being referred to rather than “shoppers,” and the new system states “thing” rather than “product.”
Although the shift only involves a handful of word changes, the implications of these changes are substantial. This is because the scope is broadened, encompassing all manner of review types.
Google’s Reviews Guidance
With a new review system comes new guidance. Google claims that its updated reviews system has been designed to evaluate pages, blog posts, articles, or other forms of written opinion content. This refers to content that has been written with the intention of providing recommendations or analysis. Despite this, third-party reviews aren’t included within this, which refers to those posted by users.
Essentially, reviews can be about anything and everything and are no longer exclusive to products. Such a change has been made to ensure that users find well-researched reviews rather than one-dimensional summaries. Therefore, any site that publishes review content must ensure they implement the necessary measures to maintain its rankings in line with this change.
What is a High-Quality Review?
The concept of Google prioritising reviews that it deems high-quality is not a new one. Despite this, the fact that the scope has been expanded means that these reviews make more of an impact than ever before. To that end, listed below are Google’s reviews best practices:
- Ensure ranked lists contain enough useful standalone content, even if you write in-depth reviews separately.
- Never claim that something is the best without first-hand supporting evidence.
- Incorporate links to various merchants, providing users with a selection.
- Incorporate links to valuable resources to aid the decision-making process.
- Describe the design choices of a product and the impact of these decisions beyond manufacturer claims.
- Analyse vital decision-making aspects based on personal expertise or experience (e.g., assessing fuel economy in a car review).
- Describe the product evolution in comparison to previous models. Address drawbacks and improvements to aid others in their decision-making.
- Weigh up the pros and cons of something based on independent research.
- Address comparable objects of consideration, such as specific circumstances or uses.
- Explain what sets something apart from the competition.
- Include quantitative measures about multiple aspects of performance.
- Include evidence of your personal experience, such as links, audio, or visuals, to validate your claims.
- Demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about the thing being reviewed.
- Evaluate from a user’s perspective.
Previous Reviews Updates
Since 2021, there have been six product review updates, and the latest update is an evolution of these. As a result, all previous pages containing guidance about “product reviews” have been redirected and updated to reflect “reviews” guidance.
The February 2023 product reviews update saw new languages being introduced to the system. As a result, reviews in English, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese were subject to evaluation. This change continued into the latest update in addition to broadening the scope of reviews. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Google review updates are moving in the right direction to become more inclusive, optimising the user experience on a global scale.
What This Means for Sites
While reviews have played a part in SEO for some time, the fact that they now encompass a wider spectrum of things is sure to make an impact. Consequently, sites may wish to assess their onsite reviews and ensure they’re Google-friendly. This way, Google is more inclined to prioritise your review content in terms of site rankings.
If you’re unsure about how to optimise your review content, then i3MEDIA is here to help. With 19 years of experience in digital marketing, we’re well-equipped to assess site content and optimise it accordingly. For further advice and guidance regarding the latest Google reviews update, please feel free to get in touch.