Google published a brand new Q&A about core updates and one of the most important facts shared is that a reviews update is on the way that will mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new phase for review update.
Google’s Reviews System
There isn’t a lot of information about Google’s Reviews System.
But the fact that they call it a Reviews System likely means that it’s probably a machine learning model with a classifier process in the same way that the Helpful Content System works.
The Reviews System documentation doesn’t talk about signals or how the system is a part of the ranking process. It doesn’t even say that it generates a signal.
However, this is what the Reviews System documentation says it does:
“The reviews system is designed to evaluate articles, blog posts, pages or similar first-party standalone content written with the purpose of providing a recommendation, giving an opinion, or providing analysis.
It does not evaluate third-party reviews, such as those posted by users in the reviews section of a product or services page.”
Additional facts that we know about the Reviews System is that if site content is primarily reviews then the system will evaluate all the content.
But if the reviews are not a primary component of a website then the evaluation will be on a page level and not site-wide.
Review System Update Coming
Nestled within Google’s new search update question and answer documentation is the announcement that there is a reviews update coming within a week.
The announcement is short and not sweet:
“We expect an update to our reviews system to start rolling out next week.”
This means Novemember is going to be a two-fisted wave of updates, hitting websites from the direction of the November Core Algorithm Update rolling out right now followed by a Reviews Update.
More News For Review Sites
One more development is that after next weeks Reviews System update rolls out Google will transition to regular releases of updates and improvements to the system.
Although the announcement didn’t use the phrase “rolling update” to describe what the Reviews System is transitioning to, it sure sounds like a rolling update. A rolling update is one in which a system is incrementally improved or changed on a regular basis.
This is what Google announced about the new Reviews System:
“We expect an update to our reviews system to start rolling out next week.
That will also mark a point when we’ll no longer be giving periodic notifications of improvements to our reviews system, because they will be happening at a regular and ongoing pace.
We’ll be updating our page about the system to reflect this; we’ll also update that page if the system evolves in some notable way, such as covering more languages.
Those who do reviews should read our guidance and stay focused on that over time.”
What Does New Reviews System Mean?
While some may say that this is a bad thing, this actually may be a good thing.
Google’s Reviews System has in the past been a catastrophic for websites affected by the updates.
The reason the updates were hard is because the rankings remain in a devastated holding pattern until the next time the system is updated.
That meant that even if a publisher fixed the problems that led to lower rankings, the benefits of those changes would have to wait for the next time the Reviews System was updated.
In many cases that mean that sites suffered depressed search traffic for a month or even months until the next update to the reviews system.
The new system is transitioning to updating on a regular basis.
The knee-jerk reaction to every major change affecting search rankings is that the sky is falling and that SEO is going to become more difficult.
However, based on my lived experience with the Penguin update, I don’t think this change is going to be a bad thing.
The Penguin Update was a link related algorithm that turned the search industry upside down. The effects were felt across every level of businesses, from small all the way up to enterprise level websites.
Nobody was spared.
At first the Penguin Update would roll out once or twice a year, which meant that publishers had to suffer collapsed search traffic for months on end.
Similar to what happened with the Reviews System updates, publishers affected by the Penguin algorithm update had to wait a long time for relief.
At a certain point Google updated the Penguin algorithm and announced that from that point thereafter the Penguin system would become a rolling update.
A rolling update meant that ranking changes happened in real-time.
This change to the Reviews System update therefore can be interpreted as good news for SEOs and publishers.
Because the new system is changing on a regular basis this change might actually be good news because it may lead to faster recoveries.
This is something that needs clarification.
Read Google’s announcement:
What updates are coming this month?