Google was not on vacation in July, releasing one important official update and releasing updated guidelines including the Quality Raters Guidelines. The July 2022 Product Review update was for English pages only, but a similar update is expected for languages very soon. If you write product reviews with outbound affiliate links, you should pay particular attention to this update whatever language you write in. The Google for Creators team was also very busy in July and released a video you may find useful as an introduction to SEO.
July 27th – July 2022 Product Reviews update (English only)
On July 27th, Google announced the release of a new Product Reviews update via their @googlesearchc Twitter account. The tweet pointed to a new Ranking History page (featured below), indicating that this page will be updated when the update had completely rolled out [It was completed on August 2nd].
This is the fourth Product Reviews update. The previous three updates were released in April 2021, December 2021and March 2022. In a follow-up tweet by Google’s Danny Sullivan, he confirmed that the update was for English-language pages only, but he also strongly hinted that this update will be released in other languages very soon.
Danny’s tweet contained links to articles published with previous releases: What creators should know about Google’s product reviews update (April 2021) and Write high quality product reviews (March 2022). Key advice from these documents is that product reviewers should
- Demonstrate that they have real, direct experience with the product (via visuals or links to audio or video demonstrations)
- Provide original text covering product benefits and drawbacks plus comparisons with other products.
- Provide links to useful resources and to multiple sellers
Product Reviews updates aim to combat low-quality sites created to generate traffic and revenues through affiliate links. It is an important update for Google in that it uses artificial intelligence to analyze content and evaluate whether the reviewer has real experience and expertise on the product reviewed.
Data from search results trackers is showing very little volatility in search results from July 27th to August 2nd. This may indicate that the update was related to a very specific type of products – such as automobiles.
Official Google Search ranking updates page
A new page on the Google Search Central site now lists all officially recognized ranking updates from January 2020. The tweet informing web site owners of the Product Reviews update in July suggests that this will become an important source for details on ranking updates to Google Search including the dates at which roll-outs are completed.
Knowing the start and end dates of a ranking update’s roll-out can help website owners identify the reasons for traffic drops – or traffic increases.
It is interesting to note that the July 2022 Product Reviews update is listed in the English, Indonesian and German versions of this page, but not on the French and Spanish versions.
This may be linked to the fact that the Product Review update was only released in English. However, previous Product Review updates in March 2022, December 2021 and April 2021 do feature in the French and Spanish list. Maybe it is just a delay in getting the text back from the translators. They should try this tool.
Google’s Guide to TITLEs
Other changes to Google Search Central’s documentation in July 2022 included the update of guidelines on how to write TITLE tags. TITLE tags on every web page contain text that should be used when linking to the page. Search engines like Google should use this text as the blue link to the page in search results as illustrated in the article.
Using the SEOPress plugin on WordPress, you can set SEO Titles for pages, posts and custom post types with automatic rules using dynamic variables or manually, page-by-page using the SEO metabox.
This update comes at a time when Google appears to be rewriting links more frequently – ignoring or improving TITLE tags provided by the site. This document may help you understand why this is happing to your pages and help you write better TITLE tags.
Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines update
On July 28th Google quietly updated their Quality Rater Guidelines, making no official announcement of what appear to be significant changes. This document is felt to be very important because it describes how Google evaluates quality manually and may therefore give us clues to how it may evaluate quality algorithmically as a ranking factor – specifically as a factor for Core Updates.
We discuss the importance of this document in our guide Optimizing WordPress sites for Google EAT.
Marie Haynes covers the changes made to the 170-page document in her article What we can learn from the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines – Info on the July 2022 QRG update. She concludes that there were “Many changes in the latest update to Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines. Google has given us much more information to understand whether the topics our sites cover are considered YMYL.”
Changes include (citing Marie’s article still)
- how YMYL is classified
- how low-quality pages can exist on any website, even “official” or highly authoritative sites
- how intention to harm is on Google’s radar
- more focus on whether content is designed to incite violence or hatred
- more clarity on interstitials
- a move away from the raters focusing on searches on mobile phones
- some interesting information about language – possibly a foreshadowing of MUM?
- possibly some hints as to whether the information gleaned from quality rater tests is used for machine learning to determine ranking factor weightings
New Video from Google for Creators
Google for creators released a video recorded by Uptin on July 15th entitled “How Your Content Can Rank Higher on Google Search” which promises to tell us “How SEO really works.”
How Your Content Can Rank Higher on Google Search
This is a very good, short introduction to SEO and goes over the basics for those who may not be familiar with how Google works. It is interesting to note that he refers to Google “reading” content from websites, suggesting that the search engine is truly beginning to understand the content it finds before indexing it.
The 4 SEO tips from this video are:
- Create useful and information-rich content. Keep it clear and simple. Describe the content using frequent headings and subheadings. Check that pages are indexed using Google Search Console’s URL Inspection tool.
- Don’t just copy content from other websites. Google will easily recall reading it before and draw conclusions about the value your content as a search result. External links to your website will give Google more context to your content and help ranking. You can obtain these by collaborating with other creators or by building yourself as a source of knowledge.
- Think what the optimal audience is for your content. Check popular searches using Google Trends and the Google Keyword Planner and use the keywords you discover in titles and text.
- Make content for searchers and not search engines. Google will quickly realize when content was not meant for people.
Google for creators released 17 videos on their YouTube channel in July including How Your Content Can Rank Higher on Google Search, YouTube Shorts, How to be comfortable and confident on camera, How Creators Can Combat Burnout By Redefining Success and Google Search Trends for July 2022.
They have also been teasing on Twitter about the release of a new Google product for creators on WordPress. More information to come on that in a future edition of our Google News for WordPress maybe. Make sure that you subscribe to our newsletter to get SEO news in your inbox for free!