On 1 December 2021, Google officially announced via Twitter rolling out of yet another algorithm update – December 2021 Product Reviews Update. It took roughly three weeks to complete (22 December 2021) and the same was confirmed by Google’s Developer Advocate Alan Kent in a tweet. This update is preceded by a Spam Update, and a major Core Update that coincided with Local Search Results Algorithm Update, all in the month of November.
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
The Google product review update is fully rolled out. Thank you!
— Alan Kent (@akent99) December 21, 2021
‘Tis the season to be Jolly! While many openly voiced their displeasure about the timing of all these updates before and during and holiday season, a time when most are looking to benefit from Thanksgivings, Black Fridays, Cyber Monday, and Christmas and New Year’s, it seems that, in a general opinion, none of the updates were disruptive enough to play the spoilsport. Some would disagree.
Why is Product Reviews Update so important?
Google Developer Advocate Alan Kent tweeted:
“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.” He then went on to clarify, “Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products. Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com. Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Why Product Reviews Update should concern you?
If you’re into selling product or services through your website and have reviews consistently being posted on it by customers or users, you might want to analyse your data regarding your website’s rankings and traffic between the first week of December and 22 December. Did it improve, worsen, or stayed the same? If it was all affected badly, going forward until the next Product Reviews update hits, you might want to look into and follow Google’s guidelines on Product Reviews Best Practices.
What to do if you are hit by December 2021 Product Reviews Update?
The first and foremost thing you should do is check what are Google’s Guidelines regarding Product Reviews Best Practices. Google clearly states in its documentation,
“Over time we have received more feedback from users on what type of review content is deemed trustworthy and useful, motivating us to provide additional product review guidance. Users have told us that they trust reviews with evidence of products actually being tested, and prefer to have more options to purchase the product.
Therefore we are introducing two new best practices for product reviews, to take effect in a future update.
- 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.
These best practices, combined with the best practices shared back in April, have now been merged into a single documentation page, Write high quality product reviews.”
While Google doesn’t exactly admit these are ranking factors, they still will play a very important role in determining your website’s position on the SERPs in the next Product Reviews Update. So, by way of extension, they will become a ranking factor. And it is something you, as a business owner dependent on sale of products and services and the positive word of mouth that originates from reviews, should take very seriously. And not that it needs to be said, stay as far away from fake reviews as possible. They present a false picture that Google doesn’t tend well to.