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.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
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.”
Continue Reading Below
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
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.
Continue Reading Below
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
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
Why Does Google Not Recognize My Competitor’s Links As Manipulated?
This week’s Ask An SEO question comes from Arvin from Vancouver, Canada, who wrote:
“One of our competitors has gotten tons of backlinks from unrelated posts including forums like that of apache.org (and many other .edu sites, too). Even after updates like Penguin, why are they considered relevant backlinks by Google?”
Let me begin by saying, Arvin, that we are a sports-loving family.
I currently have four kids on seven teams.
I love the lessons that sports teach my kids.
And one of the big lessons I work to instill in my kids is never to blame the referees for a loss.
I’ve never seen any sporting event where, if one of the teams did something better, the referee’s call would never factor into the outcome.
This lesson translates well to SEO.
Focusing on your competitor’s SEO instead of improving your own is a frustrating waste of time.
But, as an SEO, it is important to understand the factors that are affecting the rankings of each keyword.
Like Anyone Could Ever Know
Unless you work at Google, you can never be certain about why one site is ranking over another.
We can run sophisticated mathematical models to try to understand the algorithm.
But the bottom line is we can’t ever know for sure.
In fact, I’m not even sure the folks that work at Google could unequivocally tell you why one site ranks over another.
The algorithm is so complex that no one person could ever decipher it completely.
How Do You Know The Links Are Relevant?
There is no way to know if the links that your competitor has built are being counted by Google.
Google knows a lot more than our tools tell us it knows.
None of the many backlink analysis tools available on the market today can tell you if Google is counting a link or isn’t.
These tools use data gleaned from their own analysis to determine if a link is relevant or if it is toxic.
Meanwhile, one piece of content or simple link from a strategic site could be boosting the site’s rankings.
Concentrate On Your Competitor’s Strengths
When you look at the “bad” things your competitors are doing, you may miss a tactic that could put you over the top for that keyword you just can’t get to rank.
Instead of looking at all the things you think they are getting away with, look at what they are doing that is legitimate that you aren’t doing.
Frequently, when a prospect comes to me screaming about the travesty of an “inferior” company is ranking above them, the real reason for the ranking usually has nothing to do with the perceived injustice.
But usually when we find the real reason – or at least what I think is the real reason – we uncover a technique that this prospect should double down on.
It could be that your competitor has more robust content around a specific subject.
It could be that your competitor is utilizing technical SEO techniques better than you are.
It could be a thousand things.
Bottom line – when doing competitive analysis, concentrate on discovering things your competitors are doing better than you are.
Look for techniques you can modify for your own use rather than concentrating on how your client is cheating.
Especially if you don’t plan to cheat yourself.
And I recommend you don’t.
Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Featured image: VectorMine/Shutterstock
5 Key On-Page Optimizations For Local SEO
When trying to capture those “near me” results, these are definitely beneficial.
However on-page optimization also plays a significant factor in the signals that are sent to the search engines to influence your local rankings.
On-page SEO helps you rank higher in organic results and in MapPack results, as well.
Here are five on-page optimization tips to help boost your local visibility in search.
1. Make Sure Your NAP Is Consistent
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, and Phone Number.
These three simple pieces of information can make or break your local SEO strategy.
Make sure you have these bits of information displayed prominently on your site. A footer is a great place to house your NAP since it will appear on every page.
Linking it to your Google Map is even better.
You can also display your NAP on service area pages and on your contact page in the body.
Consistency matters. It’s important that this key business information is the same anywhere potential customers find you online – and anywhere Google may be using it for comparison to ensure its accuracy.
This helps crawlers and bots to connect the dots between your Google Business Profile, website, and other local citations through the web.
Don’t get lost in minute details such as abbreviations over spelling out street names. It doesn’t really matter as long as you choose one and stick with it.
2. Spruce Up Your On-page Content
Your site content is an opportunity to show both your customers and the search engines that you are the authority in your area for the service you provide.
Include specific details such as landmarks and street names, in addition to the services you provide in this area. Make it clear why the customer would need your service in that specific area.
The more you sound like you belong there, the better the user experience for your customer.
Think as your customer thinks.
If you were looking for your service near you, what terms would you use?
Would you include your local metro, city, or even neighborhood?
The answers to these questions will help you determine the type of content you need and which keywords to include in this content.
These keywords will help you target both combination searches [dentist in Chicago] and GPS-based searches [dentist] while sitting in Chicago.
This is where the “near me” searches come into play.
Google matches the location of the user (using IP or geolocation) with sites that service the area near the user to provide these search results.
You can optimize these keywords on overall service pages or on targeted pages created specifically for the service and the targeted service area.
Using the dentist example, let’s say you offer teeth whitening services throughout the Chicago and Southern Wisconsin areas.
In addition to your main teeth whitening page, you may have individual pages for teeth whitening in Chicago, Evanston, Milwaukee, and Racine.
Each of those pages should be hyper-targeted and optimized for that specific location.
Don’t be shy here; this may be the landing page for many of those location-based searches.
Really tell your customer why they should trust you enough to click on either the next page or your CTA.
Don’t forget to do your research.
Customers who live in an area will know the common jargon and things that are native to the area.
If you come in with half-baked information, they won’t trust that you are authentic and truly care about their local area.
3. Optimize Header Tags
If you haven’t explored this subject yet, be sure to check out this resource on best practices in using header tags.
By creating local-based service pages, you have just created additional real estate to create highly targeted header tags including local-based keywords + your services.
Having great header tags gives both the visitors to your site and the crawlers a basic idea of the overall structure of the page and what to expect as they read through the content.
Be careful not to just stuff keywords into the header tags as this will be unnatural to both your visitors and the crawlers.
Keep it relevant.
4. Internal Linking
Use the power of internal linking throughout the site to educate both your customer and the search engines that you are available to serve customers in that local area.
As you are adding city names to your on-page content, you can use them as an anchor link to the service area pages.
You can also get a bit creative and create widgets, lists, and blocks that house multiple links to your service areas on top-level pages for a bit of SEO boosts.
This could be in the form of a “metro areas we service” block that includes the name of the metro, an image of the area, and a short excerpt.
The text would then link to the location page.
5. Local Business Schema
Schema markup can help give the search engines a better understanding of your site.
The local business schema type includes important and relevant information such as addresses, reviews, hours of operation, social media accounts, service area geo-shapes, and departments in your code that may not necessarily live in your on-page content.
This tells the bots and crawlers all about who you are, what you do, where you do it, and why others trust you without cramming it all on a page.
This also gives you a bit more control of the information you are putting out there instead of relying on the search engines to figure out different resources around the internet.
How Will I Know If This Is Working?
Once you have everything optimized and ready to go, you will want to know if this is really having an impact on your local SEO strategy.
There are many tools out there however we will take a quick look at a few.
Local Search Results Tools
There is nothing like looking at the SERPs directly unless you can look at the SERPs in a simulated environment that mimics the local area that you are targeting.
With these tools, you even have the option to view Google Maps, select options such as desktop and mobile, and get as granular as the zip code level.
Geo-Grid Local Ranking Tools
Geo-grid local ranking tools like Local Falcon and Local Viking are a bit more visual and monitor the map results within a selected area.
These tools are great because you can actually schedule periodic scans that will capture a snapshot of your results and keep a history of how well your site has performed locally on the maps throughout time.
Since these scans are also keyword-based, it’s also an effective way to monitor optimizations within your content and title tags.
Google Business Profile Analytics
There’s nothing like getting information directly from the horse’s mouth.
When making optimizations, if successful, you should see a boost in your Google Business Profile metrics, whether those are click-throughs to your site, calls, or requests for driving directions.
As your visibility increases, you should naturally see an increase in traffic.
Remember when optimizing for on-page local SEO, keep it simple and relevant to your business.
Once customers see that you are providing what they are looking for in the location that they desire, the rest is natural.
It is your job to make sure that you are providing them with the right information.
Even with the rapid changes within the local SEO space, a solid on-page strategy is a winner for both you and your customers.
Featured Image: MaDedee/Shutterstock
Google’s Core Web Vitals Badge Likely Won’t Happen
Google says there are no plans for a Core Web Vitals badge in search results after proposing the idea when the metrics were first introduced.
A question was submitted asking for an update on the Core Web Vitals badge and whether it’s something that will be rolled out in the future.
It was never 100% confirmed there would be a Core Web Vitals badge in SERPs, but it was an idea Google mentioned on numerous occasions.
Now it sounds like Google won’t be following through on its idea.
Read Mueller’s full response in the section below.
No Plans For A Core Web Vitals Badge In Search Results
Mueller says he can’t promise a CWV badge will never happen, but chances aren’t good.
Since the badge hasn’t rolled out yet, and the idea was first proposed over a year ago, the feeling is that it won’t happen.
“I can’t promise on what will happen in the future, unfortunately. And since we haven’t done this badge so far, and it’s been like over a year, my feeling is probably it will not happen.
I don’t know for certain, and it might be that somewhere a team at Google is making this badge happen and will get upset when I say it, but at least so far I haven’t seen anything happening with regards to a badge like this.
And my feeling is, if we wanted to show a badge in the search results for Core Web Vitals or Page Experience, then probably we would have done that already.”
Muller brings up the fact that Core Web Vitals and Page Experience are always evolving.
The Core Web Vitals metrics, as they are defined today, may include different measurements in the future. It depends what users care about.
“That said, everything around Core Web Vitals and Page Experience is constantly being worked on. And we’re trying to find ways to improve those metrics to include other aspects that might be critical for websites or for users that they care about.
So I wouldn’t be surprised if any of this changes. And it might be that, at some point, we have metrics that are really useful for users, and which make sense to show more to users, and maybe at that point we’ll have something more visible the search results, or within Chrome, or I don’t know. It’s really hard to say there.”
My interpretation of Mueller’s response is that a Core Web Vitals badge in search results isn’t an ideal solution, considering the criteria for earning the badge may change from one year to another.
If the Core Web Vitals were a set of metrics that would remain the same from year to year then a badge might make more sense, but that’s not the case.
Hear Mueller’s response in the video below:
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, January 2022.
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