Google has released a fresh Q&A regarding core updates, and among the key revelations is the announcement of an impending review update that signifies the conclusion of one era and the commencement of a new phase for review updates.
Google’s Review Evaluation System
Information on Google’s Review Evaluation System is limited. Still, the term “Reviews System” implies a probable use of a machine learning model with a classifier process akin to the operation of the Helpful Content System.
Documentation for the Reviews System doesn’t delve into details about signals or their role in the ranking process, and it doesn’t explicitly state that it generates a signal. Nevertheless, here’s what the Reviews System documentation does reveal:
“The reviews system is designed to assess articles, blog posts, pages, or similar first-party content created to offer recommendations, express opinions, or provide analysis. It does not evaluate third-party reviews, such as posted by users in the reviews of a product or service page.”
Another noteworthy detail about the Reviews System is that when a website’s content primarily consists of reviews, the system evaluates all of the content. However, if reviews are not the primary focus of a website, the evaluation is conducted at a page level rather than site-wide.
Upcoming Reviews System Update
Tucked away in Google’s latest Q&A documentation on search updates is the revelation of an impending reviews update set to roll out in the upcoming week. The announcement is concise and to the point:
“We anticipate the rollout of an update to our reviews system starting next week.”
This implies that November will see a double wave of updates, with the ongoing release of the November Core Algorithm Update followed by the Reviews Update.
Further Updates for Review Sites
In addition to the forthcoming Reviews System update scheduled for next week, Google will shift to a routine schedule of releasing updates and enhancements to the system. Although the announcement doesn’t explicitly use the term “rolling update” to describe this transition, it strongly resembles such an approach, signifying a continuous process of incremental improvements or changes.
Google’s announcement regarding the new review system states:
“We expect an update to our reviews system to start rolling out next week.
This will also mark the point at which we will no longer provide periodic notifications of review system improvements, as they will occur on a regular and ongoing basis.
We will update our system information page to reflect this change. Additionally, we will revise that page if the system undergoes significant developments, such as expanding support to additional languages.
Those engaged in reviewing should consult our guidance and remain attentive to it over time.”
What Does the New Reviews System Entail?
Contrary to initial concerns, transitioning to a regularly updated review system may be a positive development. Historically, Google’s Reviews System updates have posed significant challenges for affected websites. The difficulty lay that rankings would remain stagnant until the next system update, even if publishers addressed the issues responsible for lowered rankings. As a result, the benefits of those improvements were deferred until the next Reviews System update, often resulting in a prolonged period of diminished search traffic, lasting for a month or even months.
The new system is shifting towards frequent updates, which could be a promising change. In the realm of SEO, there is often a knee-jerk reaction to significant ranking alterations, with concerns that SEO practices will become more complex. However, based on my firsthand experience with the Penguin update, this shift may not be detrimental.
The Penguin Update was a significant algorithm change focused on links, and it had a profound impact on the entire search industry, affecting businesses of all sizes. Initially, the Penguin Update was rolled out once or twice a year, leading to extended periods of decreased search traffic for affected publishers. Similar to the Reviews System updates, relief was delayed.
At a certain point, Google transformed the Penguin algorithm into a rolling update, resulting in real-time ranking changes. Consequently, this change in the Reviews System update schedule is encouraging news for SEO professionals and publishers.
With the Reviews System transitioning to regular updates, this adjustment could translate into quicker recoveries. However, further clarification is warranted on this matter.
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