Google February 2023 product reviews update more volatile than previous updates, say data providers



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The February 2022 product reviews update created more volatility in Google’s search results than past versions of the update, according to Semrush and Rank Ranger data.

About the Google February 2023 product reviews update. Google released the February 2023 product reviews update around 5 p.m. ET on Feb. 21. It ran for 14 days after it was announced and ended on March 7.

This was the sixth product reviews update and the first Google applied to additional languages. In addition to English, 10 languages were impacted.

Data providers show the February 2023 update was more significant

Semrush. Semrush data showed that the February 2023 update was more significant than the July 2022 product reviews update.

Why did Semrush compare it to the July update instead of the September 2022 product reviews update? Because of overlapping Google updates – the September 2022 core update was rolling out at the same time.

“February 2023 product reviews update reflected a significantly more volatile update than what we saw in July,” said Mordy Obersterin, from Wix and Semrush. “The February 2023 product reviews update showed a volatility increase that was 156% more significant than the July update,” when he looked at U.S. desktop search data.

The volatility for the July 2022 update, the baseline prior to the update was 1.8 on the Semrush Sensor’s scale to a 2.7 on the Semrush Sensor’s scale for July product reviews update. Compare that to the February 2023 update that had a basement of 3.1 and it went to a 5.4 – that showed a much bigger change.

Look at the rank change comparison of volatility – it shows huge differences in volatility between the July 2022 and February 2023 product reviews update.

Here is a chart that now shows the volatility by category for the February 2023 product reviews update:

Feb Update Influence With Title 800x539

And then comparing by niche from the July 2022 and February 2023 product reviews update:

Google Upd February 2023 Google Product Reviews Update New Positions With Title 417x600

Here is the Semrush Sensor by day for the past month, where you can see the various spikes in volatility by day:

Semrush Sensor 800x309

RankRanger. Similarweb’s RankRanger compared the new February 2023 product reviews update to the September 2022 product reviews update. So Semrush and RankRanger are looking at different data sets.

In any case, the February 2023 update was more volatile than the September 2022 update, even with the core update overlapping, according to Rank Ranger. Here is their chart showing the average position change between those two updates:

Ave Position Change 738x600

Even if you look at it by position groups, still the February 2023 update was more volatile than the September 2022 update:

Rank Volatility Comparison 726x600

RankRanger also broke it down by niche, like Semrush. Here is that chart:

Volatility By Niche 731x600

And here is the Rank Ranger Risk Index tool to see the volatility by day:

Rankranger 800x262

Community. I also track what the SEO community is saying about these algorithm updates. And it appeared that there was a lot of “chatter” within the SEO community around Feb. 25, March 1, and March 4. It calmed down a lot after that, which shows a similar pattern to the charts above.

More on the February 2023 product reviews update

Google product reviews update. The Google product reviews update aims to promote review content that is above and beyond much of the templated information you see on the web. Google said it will promote these types of product reviews in its search results rankings.

Google is not directly punishing lower-quality product reviews that have “thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products.”

However, if you provide such content and find your rankings demoted because other content is promoted above yours, it will definitely feel like a penalty. Google is trying to reward sites with more insightful review content with rankings above yours.

Technically, this update should only impact product review content and not other types of content.

And the February update now works with more languages than just English, it added Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese and Polish.

What to do if you are hit. Google has given advice on what to consider if you are negatively impacted by this product reviews update. We posted that advice in our original story over here. In addition, Google provided two new best practices around this update, one saying to provide more multimedia around your product reviews and the second is to provide links to multiple sellers, not just one. Google posted these two items:

  • Provide evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.
  • Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.

Google added the following criteria for what matters with the March 2022 product reviews update:

  • Include helpful in-depth details, like the benefits or drawbacks of a certain item, specifics on how a product performs, or how the product differs from previous versions
  • Come from people who have actually used the products, and show what the product is physically like or how it’s used
  • Include unique information beyond what the manufacturer provides — like visuals, audio or links to other content detailing the reviewer’s experience
  • Cover comparable products, or explain what sets a product apart from its competitors

Google added three new points of new advice for this third release of the products reviews update:

  • Are product review updates relevant to ranked lists and comparison reviews? Yes. Product review updates apply to all forms of review content. The best practices we’ve shared also apply. However, due to the shorter nature of ranked lists, you may want to demonstrate expertise and reinforce authenticity in a more concise way. Citing pertinent results and including original images from tests you performed with the product can be good ways to do this.
  • Are there any recommendations for reviews recommending “best” products? If you recommend a product as the best overall or the best for a certain purpose, be sure to share with the reader why you consider that product the best. What sets the product apart from others in the market? Why is the product particularly suited for its recommended purpose? Be sure to include supporting first-hand evidence.
  • If I create a review that covers multiple products, should I still create reviews for the products individually? It can be effective to write a high-quality ranked list of related products in combination with in-depth single-product reviews for each recommended product.  If you write both, make sure there is enough useful content in the ranked list for it to stand on its own.

Previous product review updates. This is the sixth release of the product reviews update. The previous five were launched:

Why we care. If your website offers product review content, you will want to check your rankings to see if you were impacted. Did your Google organic traffic improve, decline, or stay the same? Long term, you are going to want to ensure that going forward, you put a lot more detail and effort into your product review content so that it is unique and stands out from the competition on the web.

We hope you, your company, and your clients did well with this update.

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