The “wrong” articles “test”, “reviews” and “top products” in sight!

Introduced for the first time in English search results in April 2021, the Google’s first update on pages positioned on searches related to tests, tops and product reviews will now be even more selective since from new criteria entered into force a new version of the update launched since March 23, 2022. Deploying the English search results update will take several weeks.

Google Reviews Update: Not to be confused with Rich Snippets, dedicated to displaying stars in search results

Although the title of this Google update might lead us to believe that it is aimed at displaying rich snippets responsible for displaying yellow stars placed under properly tagged search results with Schema.org structured data, this Google update has Update actually another purpose: to Promoting real product testing to the detriment of “fake” testing Optimized for SEO whose only purpose is to use revenue from affiliation (usually Amazon) without doing “real” testing.

What is the purpose of this new ranking update for product reviews?

Google wantsthrough this Product rating update, Reward expert content and Penalize content that it deems to be “thin content” of low quality (whose sole purpose is to redirect the Internet user to an online store to receive an affiliate commission without being an expert or having carried out a real test of the product).

What types of pages and articles does this Google update target?

  • Pages and articles position themselves on “Review (product name)” / “Test (product name)” requests;
  • The “Listicles”, those articles that showcase the “best products” of a product category and are positioned on requests of the “best (product type)” types (e.g. best 5g smartphones).

What types of pages will not be affected by the 2022 Product Ratings Update?

  • The product sheets of online shops that contain customer reviews.
  • Pages not testing a product or sharing a review.

Which languages ​​are affected by this update?

For the moment, only English search results are affected However, Google plans to quickly roll out this update to more languages ​​without giving specific timelines or details.

The French results could therefore be quickly affected by a similar update, hence the interest in preparing for it as soon as possible in order to anticipate the impact as much as possible.

What criteria does this Google update use to target pages and articles that feature “reviews” about products?

For Google, a good product review is a page that:

  • Proves that the product has actually been tested by the author : Google states in its guidelines that the author must be able to “prove” his experience with the product in order to emphasize his expertise and to support the authenticity of his opinion.
  • Contains unique images, photos, graphics, videos, sounds and test results in content and not duplicated by other sites.
  • Offers the user multiple purchase options (if any) instead of just one option (Google is indirectly targeting MFAs (made for amazon) here who redirect all their traffic to Amazon just to benefit from Amazon affiliation).

What questions should be asked to assess the relevance of a test/product review page according to Google’s quality criteria?

During the first April 2021 update, Google had a series of questions that the authors of the tests and opinions prepared may ask themselves before publishing their content assess whether their content meets the American search engine’s quality guidelineshere you are :

  • If applicable, does the article show the product expertise of the author? Through this question, Google
  • Does the content offer exclusive photo or video content that shows what the product looks like and/or how it is used?
  • Isn’t the article limited to adding photos of the manufacturer?
  • Does the article contain proprietary test data on specific criteria? E.g.: battery life of a device in different use cases, photo quality of a camera in different types of recordings, etc.
  • Does the test article show what distinguishes the tested product from other similar/comparable competitive products?
  • Does the content include a section on the best alternatives to the tested product according to use cases or specific needs that the internet user might have?
  • Does the article present the advantages/disadvantages of the tested product based on the tests carried out?
  • Does the page reflect how the product has evolved compared to its previous versions (if that is the case)?
  • Does the article provide information on the performance of the product according to the main selection criteria for this type of product, with the awarding of points for the different criteria identified? Eg for a smartphone: battery life, photo quality, screen quality, etc.
  • Does the article objectively evaluate the ergonomics of the product, its design and the potential impact on use, and breaks away from the manufacturer’s marketing discourse?

With this second version of the update, authors must also ask themselves the following question:

  • If the article contains links to buy the tested product online, are the Internet users offered multiple purchase options rather than links to a single online store?

What are Google’s recommendations for articles with product listings?

Google review update

In announcing the new version of its March 2022 update on pages that position themselves in searches related to product reviews, Google dedicated a section dedicated to pages that make product selections, thus targeting searches to the “Best (product type)” type .

Here are Google’s recommendations for these:

  • Although the search engine does not expect detailed tests on each product in these articles, for each listed product it recommends the integration of a synthesis of a tested product with the addition of unique photos.
  • Provide “evidence” or arguments justifying the ranking of the products.
  • Whenever possible, have detailed testing of each product in a “listicle” type article, without neglecting the amount of content that will be incorporated into the article listing the best products from a selection.

What example to follow in order not to be negatively impacted by this update?

While the Google teams don’t provide specific examples of content that they feel meets their quality guidelines, here’s an example that I think perfectly illustrates what kind of content the search engine expects: Les Numériques product tests, a site specializing in high-tech, known for its product testing.

Test the numbers

Here are a few points that I think are a good example to study:

  • In their tests, the specialist journalists follow a similar test process by product type in order to be able to compare products in the same category as objectively as possible.
  • The tests include their own photos taken during their tests.
  • Test videos are also added to some tests.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the tested products are presented objectively.
  • The limitations of the tested product are stated and alternatives are presented to the reader.
  • In all of its tests, the site adds redirect links to various shops where Internet users can buy the tested product (these links are, of course, affiliate links).
Sample optimized content updated google reviews

In general, considering the Google recommendations listed above, this type of article seems to fit well with what Google considers in their guidelines to be a high-quality product review written by an expert and sharing evidence of the tests they conducted.

What do you think of this new update from Google? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.

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