On July 27, 2022, Google released an updated version of its Product Reviews Guidelines (“Guidelines“). The Guidelines reflect Google’s recent comprehensive Algorithm Core Update, emphasizing the importance of providing high-quality content on behalf of website developers and formatting trustworthy relationships with users. The Guidelines rollout will take 2-3 weeks to complete and shall apply to all forms of product review content (e-Commerce, comparison and reviews websites, blogs, etc.).
According to the Guidelines, to optimize and increase SEO performance in Google Search and on other Google surfaces, website developers providing any type of product review content shall comply with the following best practices for higher rating:
- Product evaluation from the customer’s perspective;
- Knowledgeable and expert-based product reviews (e.g., indicating product strengths and weaknesses using expert or field-specific terminology);
- Providing evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of personal experience with the product to support the expertise and authenticity of the review;
- Sharing quantitative measurements of the product in various categories of performance;
- Explaining what differentiates the product from competitor products;
- Covering comparable products to consider or suggesting the best products based on specific circumstances;
- Disclosing the benefits and deficiencies of a particular product based on original personal research;
- Describing product evolution, including previous models or improvements;
- Identifying important decision-making factors related to the specific product category (e.g., a car review shall include information on fuel economy and safety);
- Describing critical choices on the product design and their effect on the user, in addition to standard manufacturer information;
- Adding links to useful resources;
- Consider including links to multiple suppliers to provide the option to purchase the product from them;
- Claiming a product as the best overall or for a specific purpose requires applicable reasoning based on evidence to such claim;
- Providing sufficient content in the ranked list for users to review, even if the in-depth description is provided on a different page.
The Guidelines further specifically refer to Google’s position and guidelines regarding websites participating in affiliates programs, where such websites usually include extensive product reviews related content. These guidelines emphasize the importance of creating original content and include additional value for the user, where “thin” websites featuring most content from affiliate networks might suffer from a ranking reduction for not providing added value, such as additional information on price, purchasing location, or product category. Google provides the following examples as “thin affiliates”:
- Pages with a product affiliate link on which the product description is copied from the original merchant’s website without any added value;
- The website is designated for affiliation and contains a minimum amount of original content.
Google provides best practices for affiliate websites to avoid low rankings, as follows:
- Affiliate program content shall form a minor part of the website when no additional value is added from such content;
- Ensure the website contains a substantial value in addition to the republished content available on the merchant’s website;
- When selecting an affiliate program, choose a product category for the website’s targeted audience, meaning the targeted affiliate program adds more value to a specific audience increasing the chance of higher ranking;
- Building a community among website users creates a source of information on the website’s niche (e.g., blogs, user reviews, etc.);
- Providing updated and relevant content.
This document is intended to provide only a general background regarding this matter. This document should not be regarded as setting out binding legal advice but rather as a practical overview that is based on our understanding. APM & Co. is not licensed to practice law outside of Israel.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
APM Technology and Regulation Team.