Back in April, Google launched a product reviews update designed to give in-depth, accurate and well-researched product reviews a boost over thinner content in Google Search. Although only relevant to sites that review products, the update saw volatile shifts in rankings that came as a surprise to many.
So Google’s Dec. 1 announcement of another product review update wasn’t exactly met with excitement – even though Google promised sites that had worked on improving their product review pages since the April update would see their efforts pay off with the December update.
Well, this update, which was slated to roll out over a three-week period, was completed on Dec. 21, just in time for Christmas (reminiscent of the latest broad core update launched right before Black Friday). But is it a gift or a lump of coal? Both, depending on the quality of your product reviews.
What we do know is that over the past three weeks many SEOs, backed by tracking tool data, claimed this update caused even more of a shake-up than its April counterpart. Early signs pointed to exceptional SERP volatility, and site owners were feeling it.
SEO expert Glenn Gabe wrote an insightful analysis on the update, and his findings shed more light on how search engine results pages (SERPs) have been affected. According to Gabe, the past three weeks have seen a “ton” of movement, with some sites predictably getting hammered and others seeing a massive boost. Additionally, several sites that had improved their pages over the past seven months did, indeed, recover with this latest update, while others got beaten down a second time.
All signs seem to point to an update that is not messing around. Unlike other updates of the past year (Page Experience comes to mind), the December 2021 Product Reviews Update has made itself immediately known. If you were hit, either positively or negatively, you likely felt it in a big way.
If you are one of the unlucky few that have been battered and bruised by this update, it’s not all bad news. As we’ve said, sites that were pummeled in April and made the necessary changes have seen the fruits of their labor pay off. And it’s clear that this is not the last product reviews update, which means an opportunity to recover is just months away. So when the festive season winds down, go into the new year with Google’s guide to writing high-quality reviews as your bible. When it comes to SEO, virtually every mistake is reversible.
Google Suggests Taking a Break This Holiday Season: The slew of updates over the past year have made maintaining your rankings practically impossible. And with the most recent core update, a local search update and product reviews update landing right in the middle of the holiday season, SEOs are left with some last-minute scrambling to do. But take it from Google’s John Mueller: Give yourself a break! In response to a claim that many SEOs are unable to take time off over Christmas, Mueller said on Twitter, “There’s no race, you don’t need to work non-stop over the weekend/holidays.” This is because (in Mueller’s words) Google’s algorithms focus on the long-term. Any “urgent” changes to a website are, essentially, pointless when what’s really needed is a step back. And the end of 2021 is the perfect time to take that step, review your site holistically and see the bigger picture. As long as you are moving your site in the right direction, it doesn’t matter if you do it next weekend or next month. So have a happy, restful new year!
Google Announces Launch of Surprise Local Search Algorithm Update: A few days ago, Google dropped a bombshell: Its November 2021 local search update had concluded – but SEOs had no clue it was happening in the first place. In its announcement on Twitter, Google said the update “involved a rebalancing of various factors” considered in generating relevant local search results to users. It’s important to consider that the three main local search ranking factors Google considers are relevance, distance and prominence. We have no indication of how Google has weighted these in the past, so it’s unclear what the update’s “rebalancing” has changed. But combined with Google’s recent Local Pack redesign on desktop SERPs, anyone with a Google Business Profile may be impacted.
And the Top Web Domain on the Internet Is… Not Google.com: It’s TikTok. That’s right – in a shocking bit of end-of-year news, TikTok has dethroned Google as the most popular domain on the internet. According to research by cloud-services company Cloudflare, the five-year-old video-sharing app overtook Google Search – and its other properties – to claim the top spot. To anyone in the non-Gen-Z crowd, this information is, in a word, shocking. How could a social media app possibly beat the search engine that maintains 92.47 percent of the search engine market share? When you consider the fact that around 167 million TikTok videos get streamed each minute of every day, compared to Google’s 3.8 million searches per minute, you start to understand. So let this be the push you need to add TikTok to your marketing strategy in 2022.
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Google Discover Traffic: Of all the Google properties, Discover is one of the least-discussed in the SEO community. This curated content feed based on individual users’ Google Search activity is one of the more elusive sources for organic traffic – but some site owners rely on it. One of them asked Mueller why his website’s steady Google Discover traffic had slowed to a halt. In a Search Central Office-hours hangout, the viewer explained to Mueller that Google Discover was his main acquisition channel – but traffic had fallen from 1,000 active users at any given time to under 100, with no recent site changes to blame as a cause. Mueller explained that traffic on Google Discover is not consistent, and something like a core update, for example, could affect it. Mueller recommended not relying on Discover as a main source of traffic but rather as supplementary – and definitely nothing to build your business on.
Microsoft Bing Introduces New Travel Features: Following in Google’s footsteps, Microsoft Bing announced a range of new and visually rich travel features to make planning and booking a vacation easier for its users. The features include suggested itineraries and travel inspiration, a full-page flight- and hotel-booking experience, dining information, 360-degree immersive views and coupons and deals. A new Travel Guide homepage serves as inspiration for things to see and do on your next adventure, while an “Eat & Drink” carousel provides images and explanations of a destination’s top culinary attractions. We may not be out of the woods with the pandemic yet, but when travel moves back towards being what it once was, Bing’s experience could give Google Travel a run for its money.
Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.
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