On April 12, 2023, Google released the highly-anticipated April 2023 Reviews Update, which focuses heavily on user experience signals. Alongside the update, Google has also released new documentation for Google Search Central, providing guidance on the type of content that may be favored by the Reviews System Algorithm.
It’s important to note that this update is just one among many algorithms that make up Google’s overall algorithm. However, given that Google has named this algorithm the Reviews System, it’s safe to assume that it plays a significant role in how product reviews are ranked and displayed in search results. Website owners and marketers should pay close attention to the new guidance provided by Google and optimize their content accordingly to maintain or improve their search rankings.
Reviews Update: Focus on Experience
Google’s recently released documentation on Reviews places a strong emphasis on E-A-T, which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. This content quality framework was first introduced by Google in December 2022 and is commonly referred to as the “Double-E-A-T” paradigm. By prioritizing E-A-T factors in reviews, Google aims to provide users with high-quality and reliable information. It’s important for website owners and content creators to consider E-A-T when producing content and reviews to ensure they meet Google’s standards for credibility and accuracy.
The “Double-E-EA-T” paradigm is the latest standard for content quality, building on the well-known E-A-T framework (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) introduced by Google. The additional “E” in Double-E-EA-T stands for Experience, indicating that Google’s Review System may prioritize content that provides real-world, hands-on experience.
Personal Experience Key to Ranking Higher in Google’s Product Reviews System
In fact, there have been reports that adding phrases like “in my experience” or “my hands-on analysis” to reviews has led to higher rankings in the search results. This suggests that providing authentic and personal experiences can play a significant role in improving the visibility and credibility of product reviews. As website owners and content creators, it’s important to consider the Double-E-EA-T framework when producing content and reviews to ensure they meet Google’s standards for quality and relevance.
While it’s unclear whether the reports of improved rankings through personal experience phrases are accurate or coincidental, it’s clear from Google’s new documentation that simply stating one’s experience is not enough to meet the standards for high-quality content.
The documentation emphasizes the need for publishers to provide concrete evidence of their experience in order to establish credibility and authority. By demonstrating expertise through actual experiences, publishers can create more trustworthy and valuable content for users. Therefore, website owners and content creators should strive to provide authentic evidence of their experience to meet the new standards set by Google.
The Importance of Experience Signals in Product Reviews
The following signals of experience are listed in the new documentation:
- Providing visual evidence
- Including audio
- Linking to evidence of experience
- Using quantitative measurements
These experience signals provide evidence that the product has handle, tested, used, and measured.
Providing Visual Evidence
This requires taking original photographs of the reviewed product, rather than using stock photos.
Quantitative refers to measuring a specific quantity. It’s highly recommend to take performance measurements of a product to provide measurable data.
Audio and Visual Experience
Google did not give specific examples of what audio or visual experience entails, but it’s possible to imagine scenarios where it’s relevant. Although not every review may require it, some products may benefit from showcasing visual or audio experiences, such as demonstrating the noise level of a product.
Product Reviews System Impact on Languages
The April 2023 Reviews System Update affects the following languages:
Google’s Product Reviews System
The latest update sets a higher standard for product reviews. While lower-quality reviews may still rank if higher-quality ones are absent, this doesn’t necessarily mean the Reviews System is ineffective. It could simply indicate a lack of high-quality reviews available for that product.
If you notice your competitors ranking higher by using fake signals of experience, like using certain phrases that are associated with experience, it would be helpful to take an extra step and provide genuine evidence of experiences, like original photos and quantitative measurements