Google Rolls Out November 2023 Reviews Update

Google announced it’s rolling out the November 2023 reviews update starting today. This update marks a shift in how Google will handle review-based content from now on.

According to Google’s documentation, the reviews ranking system is designed to evaluate articles, blog posts, and other standalone content focused on opinions and analysis. It doesn’t assess third-party reviews like those left by users on product or service pages.

If a website’s content is primarily reviews, the system will evaluate all of it. Assessments will happen at the page level rather than site-wide for sites where reviews are a secondary focus.

The reviews update starting today coincides with Google’s latest core search algorithm update, which is also rolling out. This means many sites may see fluctuations in search traffic and rankings from the combined impact over the next few weeks.

Additionally, Google stated this update signifies review system changes will now occur regularly rather than through periodic announced updates.

That means Google will no longer provide notifications about review system improvements, as they will be ongoing.

What Does This Mean For Websites With Reviews?

For sites focused on reviews, this shift may prove positive.

In the past, when Google’s review system hurt sites, they had to wait months until the next update to recover, even if issues were fixed quickly.

Shifting to regular and incremental changes allows faster rebounds. However, having review-based content constantly monitored and evaluated presents new challenges for publishers.

Google advises sites offering reviews to carefully follow its quality guidelines and focus on that guidance.

Details At A Glance

  • Timing: The November 2023 Google Reviews update starts on November 8. Updates like these typically take 1-2 weeks to complete.
  • Scope: This update will affect reviews-based content in English, though Google says it may expand to other languages over time.
  • Google’s guidance: Google has provided advice on high-quality review content before, advising it to be original, transparent, current, informative, and cover pros/cons. This update may further prioritize those signals.
  • Impact: Sites reliant on reviews for traffic may see volatility. Depending on how well content aligns with Google’s evolving reviews system, some may gain or lose rankings.
  • Response: Audit your review content using Google’s quality rater guidelines. Focus on improving thin or low-value reviews.
  • Pivot: The shakeup presents an opportunity for sites losing ground. They can pivot to Google Ads to regain lost traffic while working to improve review content.

In Summary

The rollout of Google’s latest reviews update signals a new era of continuous evaluation and adjustment for sites offering reviews-based content.

While disruptive in the short term, regular incremental updates may enable quicker recovery from ranking fluctuations.

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