Google’s Review Algorithm: A New Chapter Begins in November 2023


Introduction to Google’s Upcoming Core Update

Google has recently disseminated a critical Q&A briefing that reveals the approach of a pivotal Reviews Update. This forthcoming update is anticipated to herald the termination of the prevailing era and initiate a fresh chapter for Google’s review assessment procedures.

Insights into Google’s Reviews System

Limited information has been disclosed regarding the inner workings of Google’s Reviews System. Nevertheless, the terminology employed, referring to it as a “system,” suggests a sophisticated framework likely underpinned by machine learning technology akin to that of the Helpful Content System.

Although the Reviews System’s official documentation is sparing in detail, it explicitly states its purpose: to appraise content such as articles, blog posts, and pages crafted to offer recommendations, opinions, or analysis. Significantly, it emphasizes that its scope is confined to first-party standalone content, excluding third-party user reviews on product or service pages.

Understanding the Scope of Review Evaluation

The system’s evaluative reach is contingent upon the nature of a website’s content. For sites predominantly featuring reviews, the assessment is expansive, encompassing the entire area. Conversely, for those where reviews are a secondary element, the appraisal is conducted on an individual page rather than site-wide.

Anticipating the Reviews System Update

Google has subtly announced within its recent search update Q&A that a Reviews System update is imminent, with deployment expected within a week. This announcement is brief, signaling a dual onslaught of updates with the November Core Algorithm Update already in progress, followed by the Reviews Update.

The Future of Review Sites Post-Update

Post-update, Google plans to shift to a model of continuous enhancements to the Reviews System. The announcement stopped short of labeling it a “rolling update,” but the description implies incremental and regular improvements. This transition signifies the end of periodic notifications for Reviews System improvements, pivoting to a more dynamic, ongoing enhancement cycle.

Google’s discourse on the Reviews System’s future indicates that updates will be executed with such regularity that specific announcements may become redundant, except in instances of significant systemic evolution.

Implications of the New Reviews System

Introducing a regular update schedule for the Reviews System may be a positive development. Historically, updates to Google’s Reviews System have been disruptive, with affected sites experiencing prolonged periods of suboptimal rankings until the subsequent update rollout.

The move towards a more fluid update process is reminiscent of the transition witnessed with Google’s Penguin Update. The initial sporadic nature of Penguin updates had a profound impact across the digital landscape, affecting businesses of all sizes. The shift to a rolling update model led to more immediate ranking adjustments, which, if paralleled by the new Reviews System, could signify quicker recoveries for websites post-update.

A Progressive Step for SEOs and Publishers

While change can often be met with apprehension, transitioning to a more consistent update mechanism for Google’s Reviews System may be beneficial, allowing for more agile responses to ranking adjustments. This evolution requires further elucidation, but it may signal a transformative period for SEO strategies and content publishers.

A Step Toward Greater Accountability

The upcoming Reviews Update from Google could mark a significant shift in how search results for reviews are presented to users. There is a sense of optimism among many that this update will bring about more accountability, especially for high-profile sites that publish affiliate content.

Affiliate content is material that a website publishes which includes links to products or services for which they receive a commission on sales. This type of content is often found on a wide range of sites, from large, well-known ones like Forbes and WebMD to smaller niche blogs.

The key concern with affiliate content is its potential to be biased due to the financial incentive involved. Sometimes, the desire to earn commissions can lead to exaggerated claims or the omission of less favorable information about a product or service.

With the new Reviews System update:

  • Holding Sites Accountable: Sites that don’t adequately disclose their affiliate relationships or that publish biased reviews may find their visibility in search results reduced if Google’s updated system deems their content less trustworthy or helpful.
  • Encouraging Transparency: The update could encourage sites to be more transparent about their affiliate relationships and to ensure that their reviews remain honest and objective, despite the potential for earning commissions.
  • Reducing Deceptive Practices: By improving the detection of biased or deceptive reviews, Google’s update could help to lower the search ranking of content that doesn’t meet the new standards, which would diminish the reach of less trustworthy affiliate content.

In layman’s terms, Google’s update is like a new rulebook for determining which reviews play fair for consumers. Sites that have been playing by the rules should welcome this update, while those that may have been bending them could have to make some changes. This is a hopeful step for internet users who rely on reviews to make informed decisions, as it could lead to more honest and transparent information online.

Latest Posts