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

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

As a reminder, the this update started on February 21 and lasted through March 7, 2023.

On February 21, 2023, Google released the February 2023 product reviews update that ran for 14 days and ended on March 7, 2023. This update was different than the previous several product reviews update in that it impacted not just English languages but also several other languages.

February 2023 product reviews update. As a reminder, the February 2023 product reviews update started to roll out at about 5 p.m. ET on February 21. This update took 14 days to roll out after it was announced. So this update started on February 21 and lasted through March 7, 2023.

This update impacted English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Polish languages.

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. The reason Semrush compared it to the July update and not the September 2022 product reviews update is that there was an overlap of updates, with the September 2022 core update also rolling out at the same time.

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

Semrush Pru Change Compare 800x496

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:

Semrush Sensor 800x309

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

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

RankRanger/Similarweb. RankRanger, a company of Similarweb, compared the new February 2023 product reviews update to the September 2022 product reviews update. So Semsuh and RankRanger are looking at different data sets.

In any case, the February 2023 update was more volatile than the September 2022 update according to Semrush, even with the core update overlapping. Here is there 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

Then here is the RankRanger Risk Index tool to see the volatility by day:

Rankranger 800x262

Community. As some of you know, 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 February 25, March 1, and March 4th. It calmed down a lot after the 4th of March, as you can see from the charts above as well.

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. Technically, according to Google, this is not a penalty against your content, Google is just rewarding 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 languages.

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 and was released on February 21 at about 5pm ET. The first product reviews update was launched on April 8, 2021, the second was launched on December 1, 2021, the third has been released on March 23, 2022, and the fourth was released on July 27, 0222, and the fifth was released on September 20, 2022.

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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