On April 12, 2023 at 09:08 PDT, Google released the April 2023 Reviews Update, which now covers reviews about products, services, and things.
Normally I would not write an article about this type of update; however, given my experience in the subject of SEO and Google’s algorithm updates, I know this information is important enough for service business owners to be aware of so you can make some adjustments when asking for reviews from your customers.
What is the April 2023 Reviews Update about?
Google Search has implemented a better reviews system to reward high-quality reviews, focusing on insightful analysis, original research, and content written by experts or enthusiasts. The system evaluates first-party standalone content such as articles, blog posts, and pages that provide recommendations, opinions, or analysis. It does not evaluate third-party reviews.
Reviews can be about various topics, including products, media, or services. The system evaluates review content on a page-level basis and is currently available in multiple languages globally. Product structured data can help identify product reviews, but it’s not the sole criterion.
Creating content that complies with the reviews system can be found on Google’s help page for writing high-quality reviews. Periodic improvements to the system are shared as “review updates” on the Google Search Status Dashboard. Content impacted by a review update may not recover until the next update, but it’s important to note that the automated assessment is only one of many factors used in ranking content.
Heavy Focus On Experience
Google recently introduced new Reviews documentation emphasizing the Double-E-EA-T content quality paradigm, officially launched in December 2022. Double-E-EA-T is an enhanced version of the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) concept, with the additional “E” representing Experience.
The updated Review System may prioritize Experience when evaluating content quality. Some anecdotal accounts suggest that including phrases like “in my experience” or “my hands-on analysis” in reviews has led to improved rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). However, the new documentation indicates that the standard for demonstrating experience goes beyond mere words on a page.
Publishers are encouraged to provide tangible evidence of experience in their content, adhering to Google’s Double-E-EA-T guidelines for improved content quality and search rankings.
Reviews with low effort and quality are being addressed in this update.
In this update, Google Search addresses reviews with low effort and quality. Google evaluates first-party standalone content such as articles, blog posts, and pages that provide recommendations, opinions, or analysis. It does not evaluate third-party reviews. Creating content that complies with the reviews system can be found on Google’s help page for writing high-quality reviews. To deliver value to readers, prioritize the quality and originality of your reviews rather than their length, and adhere to the best practices listed above.
Best Practices For Writing Reviews (In Google’s Eyes)
High-quality reviews can help users learn about various products, services, or topics. Reviews can be written by experts, bloggers, or editorial staff members. To enhance the visibility of your review pages on Google Search and other platforms, follow these best practices:
- Write your evaluation from a user’s perspective.
- Demonstrate expertise in the reviewed subject.
- Provide evidence, such as visuals or audio, to support your experience and authenticate your review.
- Share quantitative performance measurements.
- Highlight distinguishing features from competitors.
- Compare alternatives and suggest the best options based on use or circumstances.
- Discuss the pros and cons based on original research.
- Describe product evolution and improvements.
- Focus on crucial decision-making factors.
- Explain key design choices and their effects on users.
- Include links to helpful resources for reader decision-making.
- Consider linking to multiple sellers for reader convenience.
- When recommending the best option, provide first-hand supporting evidence.
- Ensure ranked lists contain enough useful content to stand independently.
Affiliate links can be used to reward creators for their reviews. Follow Google’s guidelines on affiliate programs when including them. To deliver value to readers, prioritize the quality and originality of your reviews rather than their length, and adhere to the best practices listed above.
What Are Review Snippets?
A review snippet is a brief summary of a review or rating from a review website, typically representing an average of combined scores from multiple reviewers. When Google identifies valid reviews or rating markups, it may display a rich snippet featuring stars and other review summary information. Ratings are evaluations based on a numeric scale (e.g., 1 to 5). Review snippets can appear in rich results or Google Knowledge Panels and be provided for various content types and subtypes.
- How-to articles
- Software Apps
- Local business (only for sites that capture reviews about other local businesses)
How This Update Affects Local Businesses
The new reviews update from Google affects local businesses, which can help them to rank better (or worse) in search results. This is done by creating content (reviews) that complies with the reviews system and following Google’s best practices for writing reviews as outlined above. This can be especially beneficial for small businesses that depend on customer reviews to get noticed online. Reviews give potential customers an insight into what the business has to offer,
The types of websites that would be immediately affected would be websites like in the following example list:
- Google Business Profiles
- Better Business Bureau
Here’s the bad news about how this update could affect your local business.
With Google’s April 2023 reviews update, local businesses may see decreased search engine visibility on these third-party review websites. It’s important that owners of local businesses understand how this update will affect their SEO strategies and be prepared to change their marketing plans accordingly.
Your competitors can outsource a shady fake review agency or freelancer to post fake reviews specifically crafted for these review websites. However, this update will surely address the problems with review spam also. Say goodbye to fake Amazon reviews that help crappy products rank high.
How to make the update work for your local business.
As with any Google algorithm update, businesses must stay informed and proactively make changes to their website. But in this case, there’s nothing for you to do since it does not affect your own website. This only affects the review websites.
However, here are a few things local businesses can do to help ensure they remain competitive in the face of Google’s April 2023 reviews update:
- Ensure Reviews Are Legitimate: Local businesses should double-check their third-party reviews to ensure they are legitimate and accurate.
- Online review platforms have strict guidelines regarding how reviews should be written. Businesses should take the time to read and fully understand these rules and ensure they are adhered to when posting reviews.
- Local businesses should ensure that any instructions or guidelines given by the review platform are also followed by their customers. You will likely need to instruct your customers on how to word their reviews.
How to get your customers to write reviews that search engines like
To help ensure that customers write reviews that search engines like, it is important for businesses to provide them with clear instructions. Businesses should explain what type of information should be included in the review and how it should be presented. By giving clear instructions, businesses can ensure that their customers write reviews that search engines will see and index.
Here are some tips to provide to your customers about writing their reviews:
- Instruct your customer to give you five stars and write a complete review.
- Be honest and specific about their experience with your company.
- Ask them to mention you by name.
- Ask them to mention what you worked on.
- Ask them to mention the brand of the item you fixed.
- Provide evidence to back up your claims, such as photos.
- Proofread for typos and grammar errors before submitting the review.
- Avoid using profanity or offensive language in your review.
Businesses should also make sure to respond promptly to customer reviews. And not just the Google Business Profile reviews. Google also checks if your company has replied to reviews on other platforms. This shows Google that the business engages with customers and takes feedback seriously.
Google’s April 2023 reviews update is probably not a really big deal for most companies. But for a service company, it will matter. Reviews are very important in the home service industry.
Google’s April 2023 reviews update is a great way for businesses to ensure their websites provide valuable content to their audiences. By following the best practices mentioned above, businesses can create content that will meet Google’s standards and be helpful to their readers. Reviews with low effort and quality are being addressed in this update, so businesses should focus on the quality of their content when creating reviews. This update is a great step forward for businesses that want to provide helpful and valuable content for their customers.
About The Author
Mike Carson is an SEO expert, web designer, internet marketer, and co-founder of Service Alliance Group. Mike runs his Marketing Agency, ITDwebdesign.com, in Joliet, IL. Mike and his team specialize in helping home service businesses optimize their websites for organic leads and search traffic using scientific, trust-based SEO methods. He is passionate about the power of digital marketing and loves to share his insights with others.