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Does Sarcasm Still Confuse Google? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s John Mueller answered if it’s still true that Google doesn’t understand sarcasm. Google’s John Mueller offered an explanation of when sarcasm might not be appropriate in the context of Google search.


Sarcasm is a way to express contempt or mockery by the use of irony and is meant to reveal something negative about the object of said sarcasm.

It’s kind of close to satire, which is more of a lighthearted use of words to poke fun of someone or an institution but without the negativity of sarcasm.

Google Discover Excludes Satire

Satire and sarcasm are two different things. However they might have the same effect on Google in that they are not direct statements but have subtext and extra meanings.


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I mention satire only because in April 2021 Google updated the Google Discover guidelines to note that satire sites would be excluded from being shown in Google Discover.

The reason Google gave for excluding satire is because it “might confuse readers.”

So the person asking the question has a good reason for asking it.

Does Sarcasm Confuse Google Semantically?

The person asking the question didn’t provide any background information as to why they were asking it.

This is the question:

“Is Google better at understanding sarcasm in 2021 or should you still try to avoid it?

For example, the sentence:

Some medical name” works for jet lag if your hamster is correct medically because no study has been run on humans.”

But is there a risk that it confuses Google semantically?”


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Mueller Affirms that Google Cannot Understand Sarcasm

John Mueller answered the question and then offered a suggestion for where sarcasm might not be appropriate for Google and when it might be okay and it doesn’t really matter.

Mueller answered:

“I would say there’s definitely a risk that we misunderstand things like that or that we don’t understand when there is sarcasm on a page.

And especially if it’s something where it’s really critical for you to get the right message across to Google and to all users then I would make sure it’s as clear as possible.

So maybe in cases where you’re talking about medical information, maybe try to avoid sarcasm.

If you’re writing about … an entertainment topic or something like that then that’s like probably less of an issue.

But especially if it’s really critical information then really make sure that it’s as easy as possible to understand.”

Straying Off-Topic May Confuse Google

Sarcasm could be said to be a little off topic sometimes. Additionally, one must also think hard about making comparisons between the object of an article and something completely different.

For example, an article about dogs could become confusing to Google if the article veers off for a paragraph discussing a scene from a 1950’s monster movie.

I recently audited a business-related website where the publisher suffered devastating rankings loss.

Reading the articles I noticed that the articles strayed wildly off topic with side discussions about secret societies, celebrity scandals and other oddly off topic paragraphs in what should be business related articles in a sensitive topic.


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The person went through each article and removed the off topic bits and improved the focus. Within a few months the rankings returned.

That experience showed the value in staying on topic in every article because it makes it easy for Google to understand.

And making content easy to understand is at the heart of search engine optimization.

So when John Mueller said that sarcasm might not work in a medical context, another way to think about it is that sarcasm might be off topic not just for Google but for the readers as well.


Google Still Not Good with Sarcasm?

Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 36:40 minute mark


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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”


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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.


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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.


Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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