December 2021 Google Product Reviews Update Rolling Out - What We See So Far

Dec 2, 2021 - 7:11 am 18 by
Filed Under Google Updates

Google Product Reviews Update

Google is rolling out yet another confirmed Google search ranking algorithm update - the second Google Product Reviews Update of the year. So if you were hit by the April 2021 Google Product Reviews Update, you may see improvements if you made the necessary changes.

Google started to roll out the December 2021 product reviews update yesterday, December 1, 2021 at about 12:30pm ET. This impacts only English-language pages for now. Google said it will take about three weeks to complete.

As a reminder, the product reviews update aims at rewarding high-level product review content, above thinner product review content. It is not a core update, we just had one of those, this is aimed at product review types of content - like you see when you Google product name and reviews i.e. iPhone 13 Prod reviews.

Google Product Reviews Update Quick Facts

Here are the most important things that we know right now in short form:

  • Name: Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
  • Launched: December 1, 2021 at around 12:30pm ET
  • Rollout: It will take about three weeks to fully rollout
  • Targets: It looks at product review content
  • Penalty: It is not a penalty, it promotes or rewards "insightful analysis and original research."
  • Not a core update: Many are going to say this is a core update, it is not.
  • English Only: This is only looking at English-language content right now, this is a global launch but only for English content at this point.
  • Impact: Google would not tell me what percentage of queries or searches were impacted by this update.
  • Discover: This update can impact your performance in Google Discover, Google previously said.
  • Recover: If you were hit by this, then you will need to look at your content and see if you can do better with Google's advice below
  • Refreshes: Google will do periodic refreshes to this algorithm but may not communicate those updates in the future. This may be the first refresh that Google has done, it is the first refresh Google communicated about.

Updated Best Practices & Advice Including Linking Out

Google also added some more advice from it's original advice, the new advice is based on receiving "more feedback from users on what type of review content is deemed trustworthy and useful, motivating us to provide additional product review guidance." Users have told Google that they trust reviews with evidence of products actually being tested, and prefer to have more options to purchase the product. With that, Google added two new best practices:

(1) 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.

(2) Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.

The aspect of linking out to multiple sources is getting a lot of attention in the SEO world because Google has said numerous times linking outwards does not help your SEO. I think the key difference here is that this is just for the product reviews algorithm and in this case it is not about specifically who you link to, but that your links don't seem biased towards only one affiliate or site. So I do think this makes sense here but as you will see below, in the chat between SEOs and Google's Alan Kent and John Mueller, this may cause issues.

Here is the original advice but Google has posted this in a new help document yesterday.

  • Express expert knowledge about products where appropriate?
  • Show what the product is like physically, or how it is used, with unique content beyond what's provided by the manufacturer?
  • Provide quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance?
  • Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors?
  • Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances?
  • Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on research into it?
  • Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision?
  • Identify key decision-making factors for the product's category and how the product performs in those areas? For example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas.
  • Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says?

Tracking Tools Showing Volatility?

There does seem to be an unusual amount of volatility, which I think is maybe from the tailend of the end of the core update and not the product reviews update. I mean, if you think of it, how many sites on the web are categorized as product review sites? In any event, here are what the tools are showing this morning:


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Cognitive SEO:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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More Tidbits From Google

Here is more information from Alan Kent and John Mueller of Google on this update:

Although this may be against Amazon's TOS:

More from Alan Kent:

As a reminder, we just finished rolling out the November 2021 core update. Clearly Google held this so it would not overlap with the core update.

More SEO Commentary

Here is some of the reaction/commentary on Twitter:

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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