What Google’s Latest Product Reviews Update Means for Consumer Products Digital PR
[4 minute read time]
Product reviews are about to change and this will impact your digital PR and earned media, especially CPG or consumer product brands. Google is constantly updating how it evaluates websites, to surface the best content. As Google gets smarter, so must brand and their PR agencies, especially those like ours that incorporate digital PR and SEO into our strategies and recommendations.
Constantly watching Google’s changes is part of being a digitally forward PR company.
We’re extremely aware that SEO plays a role in brand communication decisions and as importantly, editors and publishers, and influencers of the online outlets our clients want coverage. Modern PR and reputation management takes into account many inputs and SEO is absolutely one of them.
Why Google’s High Quality Content Changes Your Digital PR
Yoast SEO has an outstanding blog if you want to dig deeper into SEO hints and tips; that’s where we picked up on a recent change that affects CPG PR and Consumer Goods PR because it’s all about product reviews. Product reviews play a considerable role in consumer goods PR like fashion, DTC brands, or home goods, or CPG PR like beverages, snacks, and wellness supplements. Journalists often do a “round-up” of products because they’re reasonably easy to create, they usually include samples, and they do well with readers who appreciate a curated perspective from a trusted third party. In otherwords, they’re a cornerstone of digital brand awareness for CPG, DTC, and consumer product brands.
But in Google’s quest for “high quality content,” it’s caught on to the fact that these product reviews might be juuuuust a tad too easy to create, so it’s updated how it views product reviews. Savvy editors and journalists who are keenly aware that their content is in a constant battle for eyeballs will adjust the way they do product reviews, which means consumer brands and their consumer product PR agencies should be in the know too.
What Will Qualify As a High Quality Product Review in Google’s Eyes
As a brand, it’s in your best interest to secure earned media in outlets that do well with Google product reviews. Rarely is Google transparent about how it’s changing its algorithm, leaving SEO experts to read the tea leaves instead. BUT, this time, Google left some breadcrumbs. In it’s Google Search Central Blog, Google recently published an entire page of documentation about its product reviews update that every brand and PR agency in the United States should be reading. In this update, Google asks product reviewers to ask themselves these questions to answer whether their article is “high quality content:”
- 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?
How Does This Change Earned Media Coverage for Consumer Brands or CPG Brands?
Here at Avaans Media, we have a saying, “media relations don’t happen without relationships.” We work extremely hard to consider the needs of the outlet and the journalists, and Google has just provided us with a modern roadmap for improved media relations.
- For one, CPG brands or consumer product brands should be helping journalists understand these key differentiation, and those key differentiators should vary from the exact language on the brand’s website.
- Further, CPG or consumer product brands should be prepared to develop more content, that’s exclusive to the press, which shows the product in a lifestyle setting. Most CPG and consumer goods products do a quarterly photoshoot, but they should also set aside some images for journalists only and be aware of using the same image repeatedly.
- Your owned media and earned media should not look identical, and if you help editors and journalists by providing images that don’t appear on your site, it will help the brand get more eyeballs and the editor will appreciate your effort.
- The information provided to a journalist should walk them through the decision-making behind certain features and design choices while also providing hard data as to how a product compares to it’s competitors.
- PR agencies should get really great at identifying the expert journalists covering their products and lifestyle use cases and contextualizing them to different reader considerations in order to secure product reviews. This will allow a journalist to include your product in a series of different articles targeting different readers. Making the job of hardworking journalists just a little easier is one way PR and journalists create trust with one another. That trust translates into better coverage for the brands.