Google has announced the rollout of a new product reviews update on December 1, 2021. The update is now rolling out only for English language pages and will take about three weeks to roll out completely.
This is the second product reviews update this calendar year, and expected to make changes to how your product reviews rank in search results. In case if you were hit by the previous update, any improvements made to improve the overall quality of your reviews are likely to be rewarded in search rankings.
Google’s Official Announcement
Google announced the rollout of the December 2021 product reviews update on Twitter as well as in their Search Central blog post. Back in April 2021, Google’s Danny Sullivan mentioned periodic refresh in search results for product reviews. Since then, this is likely to be the first major refresh to product reviews that Google has communicated.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
Along with this update, Google has also extended their official recommendations for writing high-quality product reviews, which now includes:
- 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.
- Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.
However, these recommendations are only to take effect in a future update.
What Are People Saying?
Several SEOs and reviewers are concerned with the latest additions to the product reviews best practices and the difficulties in including them in reviews. You can refer to the Twitter discussions here and here.
Google follows these guidelines in assessing the product reviews, and this automated assessment of product review content is one of the many factors that Google takes into consideration for ranking. Alan Kent, Google’s Ecommerce Developer Advocate, confirms the same in Twitter, while the goal remains to reward authentic, high-quality reviews.
It is one of many ranking signals, but certainly the goal is to reward authentic high quality reviews. The docs page lists our recommendations for good reviews.
— Alan Kent (@akent99) December 1, 2021
Throughout this period, several SERP tracking tools have reported high volatility in search results, bigger than the product reviews update we saw back in April.
ICYMI: Still huge Google search ranking algorithmic tremors right before holidays https://t.co/ykKQUzEdzV pic.twitter.com/vkBrVmHic3
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) December 17, 2021
Glenn Gabe, an SEO expert, has shared his insights from the product review sites he has been monitoring over the April and December updates. These sites saw several changes (based on their efforts to improve their reviews) during the rollout until the end of the update.
Another weekend & more volatility with the Dec Product Reviews Update (which can take 3 weeks to fully roll out). Many sites impacted are moving in the same direction or leveled off, but there are def. some seeing a lot of volatility during the rollout. Google has been busy 🙂 pic.twitter.com/9YXDdtuSww
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) December 13, 2021
What’s Next – Dealing With This Update
The product reviews update finally concluded on December 21, 2021, just before the Christmas holiday.
The Google product review update is fully rolled out. Thank you!
— Alan Kent (@akent99) December 21, 2021
As said earlier, the new recommendations are not included in the ongoing product reviews update. Still, they are expected to be a part of one of the future updates (which may or may not be communicated by Google).
So if you’re negatively hit by this recent product reviews update and/or with the previous product reviews update, it’s worth taking a look at the best practices from Google to evaluate if your product reviews content aligns with the suggested practices and consider implementing relevant recommendations.