Google released a new algorithm update, it's not a core update, it's a product review update

11 months ago on August 08, 2023

Good morning, and we’ve got a new search ranking algorithm update for you today. 

Yesterday afternoon, Google launched a new ranking algorithm aimed at rewarding high-quality product review content. Google is calling it the Google product reviews update – yep, pretty straightforward.

“We know people appreciate product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products. That’s why we’re sharing an improvement to our ranking systems, which we call the product reviews update, that’s designed to better reward such content,” Google told us.

Here are some quick takeaways from this announcement:

  • Name: Google Product Reviews Update
  • Launched: April 8, 2021, at around 1pm ET
  • Targets: It looks at product review content
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty, it promotes or rewards “insightful analysis and original research.”
  • Not a core update: Many are going to say this is a core update, it is not.
  • English Only: This is only looking at English-language content right now, this is a global launch but only for English content at this point.
  • Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better. Check out Google’s advice for better product reviews.

The concerning future of the resilient keyword

It’s time for PPC professionals to rethink keyword targeting strategies, asserts Kirk Williams of ZATO Marketing. Changes in user behavior, which stem from Google’s own search improvements and a shift from desktop to mobile, along with Google Ads’ close variants mean that customers may be using queries that don’t necessarily have a clear-cut intent — at least to marketers.

“Understanding this is important for our industry to move forward, because if the keyword is not telling us as much as we think it is, then we have an obligation to evolve with Google’s system for the good of the accounts we manage,” Williams wrote, noting that Google uses over a million signals to determine bids for an advertiser within a single auction. Google is also the only entity (other than the user) with access to a user’s search history, and can thus tailor its results, including the ads it shows, to reach customers wherever they are in the funnel. However, this doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, it just means we might benefit from thinking of keywords more as topics or categories than intent-revealing silver bullets.

Google vs SEOs – how Google engineers think differently from SEOs

Paul Haahr is a long-time engineer at Google who has been working on Google Search for longer than almost any other current Googler at this point. He recently shared a thread of observations with us on Twitter about how Google engineers build algorithms to promote good behavior on the web, but then as SEOs learn these algorithms, those same engineers need to adapt to potentially punish efforts to manipulate those algorithms. 

Paul spent the time to explain his thoughts on the “adversarial/evolutionary” behavior of this over the years between Google and SEOs. The thread is really something I found to be fascinating, and I think you’ll enjoy skimming through it.

No phone numbers in Google Posts anymore

Google posted a new guideline that disallows putting your business phone number directly into your Google Posts. That means you can no longer write that you “have this new sale, and if you want to make an appointment, call us at 800-555-5555!” It is now against the Google Post guidelines.

Google’s new guideline here is called “phone stuffing” and Google wrote “to avoid the risk of abuse, we do not allow your post content to include a phone number. You can make your phone number available on your Business Profile or website.” 

Google did say you can attach a “Call now” button to your post that uses your verified Business Profile phone number.

Reduce rankings, block staging and local search trends.

Reduce rankings in a specific country. Google’s John Mueller said on Reddit you really cannot tell Google you want your rankings in a specific country to be lower or downgraded. 

PPC Chat on Clubhouse. The popular Twitter chat has moved their live conversation dates to Fridays. Join in today on Clubhouse to talk with the PPC Chat crew about “Getting The Most From Your Query Data.”

Block your staging site. If you want to ensure Google does not crawl, index and potentially rank your staging site, John Mueller said on Twitter that the best way to avoid this is to add authentication to your staging site, with a username and password.

Get started with Web Stories video. Google’s Pascal Birchler posted a video on how to get started with Web Stories. The video explains how to create stories, and how you as an online marketer, blogger, or site owner, can make the most out of them.
Local search changes. Google shared some interesting data around how local searches changed in 2020 with COVID-19 and the pandemic.  You might enjoy reading some of these metrics.

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