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Google April 2023 Reviews Update Rolls Out, Expands To Cover Reviews About Products, Services, and Things

On the heels of the March Broad Core Update rolling out, Google is now rolling out the April 2023 Reviews Update. And you’re reading that correctly… “Product” has been removed from the name now that the system covers “reviews about products, services, and things”.

So, the new reviews system is about much more than just product reviews. Google’s documentation about its reviews system has been updated to reflect the change from ‘product reviews’ to just ‘reviews’.

For example, Google’s documentation about the reviews system now explains:

“The reviews system is designed to evaluate articles, blog posts, pages or similar first-party standalone content written with the purpose of providing a recommendation, giving an opinion, or providing analysis. It does not evaluate third-party reviews, such as those posted by users in the reviews section of a product or services page.”

Google also explained that reviews can be about any topic and can be focused on a single thing, comparisons, or ranked lists of recommendations. And regarding languages and locations, the reviews system applies to a number of languages globally (which is not new). For example, English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish. So if you have review content in any of those languages, it can be impacted by the reviews update (regardless of country).

Reviews update languages and countries

The Impact of the Expanding Reviews System

It should be interesting to see the impact across sites that contain reviews beyond product reviews. They are now going to be evaluated by Google’s review system and could see significant volatility. And for sites with a substantial amount of reviews content, the impact can feel site-level. Google has explained that before and we have seen that across a number of sites that focus heavily on product reviews. And for sites with just some reviews content, the system evaluates content more on a page-level basis.

Volatility-wise, we typically see impact from updates like this within 48 hours from the start of the update, so I’m sure we’ll see movement by Friday or Saturday. As of now, the algo monitoring tools are pretty quiet, which does make sense given the update just rolled out yesterday at noon eastern time. Stay tuned for future posts covering the impact the SEO community and site owners are seeing based on this update.

It’s also important to know that Semrush implemented a database update recently based on adding its new SERP features upgrade. Just keep that in mind when reviewing visibility in Semrush. i.e. Watch the dates of drops or surges and make sure that started on April 13 or beyond (when actual visibility changes would appear based on this update).

Here is my tweet about the update, followed by a screenshot of how it’s displayed in Semrush:

Semrush database update in April 2023

Is It One Step Closer To Being Baked Into Google’s Core Ranking Algorithm?

The Product Reviews Update evolving into the Reviews Update could signal it’s one step closer to being incorporated into Google’s core ranking algorithm. I have covered what I call “dueling machine learning systems” for a long time now… where some sites surge and drop as different major algorithm updates roll out. When that happens, it can be extremely confusing for sites owners and SEOs. In other words, is the site high quality, or not?

For example, sites that have surged during a product reviews update and then dropped with the next broad core update. This is why I’ve always thought that the PRU should be baked into Google’s core ranking algorithm. When asked about this in the past, Google’s John Mueller has explained that’s definitely possible.

Here is John explaining that back in April of 2021:

We’ll post more about this update as we start seeing the impact. Stay tuned.

GG