Google’s Latest Product Review Update Means for Consumer Products PR
Google once again updated its Product Review Update for 2022. Google’s Product Review Update and consumer PR are closely tied. Yet, for many CMOs and PR people, this update falls below the radar, but it has big implications for consumer products, consumer tech and household goods PR, SEO, and marketing, so it’s important to pay attention. Last year, we covered Google’s views on product reviews too, so if you read last year’s piece, some of this may sound familiar.
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The April 2021 Google PRU provided these guidelines for reviews and consumer PR:
- Express expert knowledge about products where appropriate?
- Show what the product is like physically, or how it is used, with unique content beyond what’s provided by the manufacturer?
- Provide quantitative measurements about how a product measures up in various categories of performance?
- Explain what sets a product apart from its competitors?
- Cover comparable products to consider, or explain which products might be best for certain uses or circumstances?
- Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a particular product, based on research into it?
- Describe how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision?
- Identify key decision-making factors for the product’s category and how the product performs in those areas? For example, a car review might determine that fuel economy, safety, and handling are key decision-making factors and rate performance in those areas.
- Describe key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says?
What Will Google’s Product Review Changes Mean for 2022?
No doubt, Google’s PRU and consumer PR play in the same sandbox. Savvy editors will look at their product coverage with fresh eyes because this can be a huge impact to large publications with lots of reviews content. Today’s editors are more than content strategists, they’re expected to incorporate SEO considerations into their coverage as well. In the April 2021 Google Product Review Update (PRU), Google announced it would reward in-depth review articles that showed extensive knowledge of the product and context on its usefulness.
This year, it also strongly suggested that it will favor coverage that includes the writer’s own experience with the product – this could be a photos, videos, or other evidence to reinforce the product review expertise and authenticity. Google ALSO wants reviews to provide multiple sales links so the consumer can purchase at the merchant of their choice. This is reasonably good news for DTC products since they will now have a higher likelihood that they will include their URL alongside other purchasing options.
Earned Media: Help Journalists and Influencers Be Product Experts
The more you can do to make a journalist or influencer an expert, the better your earned media will be and the happier editors will be to include your products. For CPG companies or consumer tech companies, this means product samples should include in-depth tips that highlight product features and use cases so the reviewer can get to work quickly by experiencing the product. It’s tempting to just throw a product into a shipment the same way you do with consumers – but keep in mind, your customers have already researched your product. Developing B-roll for the product is key also, this allows your reviewer to create high-quality product video quickly. Your customers probably already KNOW the features and comparisons, but a journalist or influencer may not. We’re recommending that companies with a PR sample program get really smart about their PR sample kits. Media kits should also include several links, including major sites with affiliate programs, like Amazon. Take advantage of Google’s Product Review Update for your consumer PR.
Paid Coverage: Don’t Lean Too Heavily on Thin Affiliate Content
In April 2021, Google warned that thinly reviewed affiliate links would have even less authority than before – site reviews have proven. Yes, links matter, but if the entire site’s SEO depends on low-quality links, then their content and the site will not receive the much-coveted Google authority. For CPG or consumer tech or household goods brands, this is really important, because historically, your SEO and PR team would work together for affiliate links and product placement. But affiliate links will continue to be relevant for media outlets looking to diversify their revenue streams, so if you haven’t already, make sure you’re providing journalists with an affiliate link too.
Owned Media & Paid Media: Comparison Charts for the Win
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the more you can provide content as to how your product compares, the more likely your product is to be included. This is especially important for consumer product companies who are up against major household names. And if your product is well-suited to a particular niche, this is the time to exploit that. Remember, providing the context saves huge time for the journalists and makes it much easier for them to create multiple product reviews for your product.
On your website, consider these tips for your product pages too. You can’t be too helpful for Google.
Paid Media: Incorporate Branded Content Accordingly
For both your earned and owned media, keep these updates in mind to ensure your content stays fresh in the eyes of Google. Whether that’s a press release or a blog post or sponsored content, do yourself a favor and incorporate both 2021 PRU updates. And think ahead. What Google is trying to do is ensure search results match intent (informational vs. buying, for example), match the searcher’s desires. Take the high road on content – make it useful, contextual, and keep your buyer’s customer journey in mind. If your content is for those on the early side of the buying decision, then make sure your content answers common questions for early-stage buyers, if your content is for those who are ready to buy, be sure to incorporate those keywords as well. If you think ahead and remember your customer’s intent matters a lot to Google, your content can pay dividends for years to come. Regardless of who is creating the content, be sure you include keywords and the overall strategy of the document to the writer. A decade ago, SEO content could be reasonably low-quality content, so long as it was jammed with keywords. Since then, Google has been signaling its desire for high-quality content, and it’s been doubling down on that every year – product pages and product reviews are no exception. Now isn’t the time to take a shortcut.
2022 will be a big year for a lot of consumer products as the supply chain (hopefully) loosens up, so stay attuned to Google and make sure your SEO and PR are coordinating intentions and content. Contact us today to incorporate these important digital considerations into your PR.