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Google Ranking Update: April 2023 Reviews Update

April 17, 2023

On April 12, 2023, at precisely At 9:08 PDT, Google released the April 2023 reviews update. This algorithm update impacts the reviews ranking system, which Google uses to evaluate and rank review content on websites. 

Key Takeaways

  • This is the 3rd major update to Google’s rankings in 2023, and the 7th update related to the reviews ranking system.
  • Google’s previous updates to the reviews ranking system have focused on reviews of products – which largely impacted e-commerce. However, the April 2023 reviews update takes a broader approach, as it removes the term “products” from Google’s reviews documentation and extends its impact across various industries and offerings.
  • The update affects desktop and mobile searches in multiple languages.
  • While there has been minimal volatility in search results so far, it’s important to monitor organic search performance and seek support if necessary.

With April’s update to Google’s reviews ranking system, it’s more important than ever to prioritize high-quality user-generated content (ex. customer reviews and testimonials) that highlight real-life experiences. By prioritizing first-hand experiences, Google is pushing businesses and content creators to put their customers at the forefront of their SEO strategies.

Google’s Algorithm Updates to Date

This is the third major update to Google’s rankings so far in 2023, and the seventh update related to the reviews ranking system over the past two years. 

Ranking Updates in 2023

Update NameRelease DateCompletion Date
February 2023 product reviews updateFebruary 21, 2023March 7, 2023
March 2023 core updateMarch 15, 2023March 28, 2023
April 2023 reviews updateApril 12, 2023TBD

Review Ranking Updates in 2021-2023

Reviews Update NameRelease DateCompletion Date
April 2021 product reviews updateApril 8, 2021April 22, 2021
December 2021 product reviews updateDecember 1, 2021December 20, 2021
March 2022 product reviews updateMarch 23, 2022April 6, 2022
July 2022 product reviews update July 27, 2022August 2, 2022
September 2022 product reviews updateSeptember 20, 2022September 26, 2022
February 2023 product reviews updateFebruary 21, 2023March 7, 2023
April 2023 reviews updateApril 12, 2023TBD

Google’s previous updates to the “reviews ranking system” focused on promoting high-quality, in-depth product reviews for shoppers, while de-prioritizing thin, unhelpful reviews of products. The reviews that performed best after each of these updates showed expert analysis, original research and/or insightful thoughts based on real experience with a product.

What Makes This Reviews Update Different? 

The April 2023 reviews update marks a significant departure from previous updates, which focused primarily on product reviews for e-commerce and other product-focused industries. Unlike its predecessors, this update strips the term “product” from both the update name and related documentation provided by Google. Future-forward, all types of reviews may be impacted. 

For example, the copy change below appears in the first line of Google Search Central’s guide on writing high-quality reviews.:

  • Previous copy: “Publishing high quality product review pages on your ecommerce or product review site can help shoppers learn more about a product before purchase.”
  • New copy: “Publishing high quality reviews can help people learn more about things they are considering, such as products, services, destinations, games, movies or other topics.”

Pictured below are a few more examples of revisions to Google’s review documentation:  


Reviews: The Key to Showing First-Hand Experience Online

So far, the volatility in search results has been minimal. (See screenshots below for more.) If that’s true, then why is this update worth talking about? 

The April 2023 reviews update is the most recent milestone in Google’s ongoing efforts to prioritize first-hand experience as a crucial SEO factor. With a staggering one-third of all algorithm updates released over the past two years focusing on the reviews ranking system, it’s clear that the search engine giant is sending flashing neon signs.

Of course, ranking system updates like the one released this week aren’t the only ways Google has been emphasizing the importance of customer experience in SEO. Back in December 2022, it revealed an update to its Experience, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) guidelines, which have long served as a benchmark for evaluating online content quality. The update introduced a new “E,” transforming the acronym into E-E-A-T (or Double-E-A-T) and placing even greater emphasis on showing first-hand Experience with products, services, and topics in content. 

The April 2023 reviews update is a powerful reminder that user experience and satisfaction are crucial to achieving online success. With Google leading the charge, it’s time for businesses and websites to step up their game and prioritize first-hand experiences in their content and SEO strategies.

SERP Volatility from April 2023 Reviews Update

Overall, the SERPs are showing low volatility on the day of launch. However, as the ranking update continues to roll out over the coming days and weeks, this could change. This update impacts both desktop and mobile searches in the following languages globally: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese and Polish. 

Below are some data points and screenshots pulled from the Semrush Sensor on April 12, 2023 showing the current volatility in SERPs across the United States. 

CategoryMobile VolatilityDesktop Volatility
All Categories3.33.0
Arts & Entertainment5.24.5
Auto & Vehicles3.12.8
Beauty & Fitness3.32.7
Books & Literature2.42.5
Business & Industrial4.53.2
Computers & Electronics3.93.3
Food & Drink3.71.7
Hobbies & Leisure3.42.7
Home & Garden3.63.2
Internet & Telecom4.13.8
Jobs & Education3.53.1
Law & Government3.23.1
Online Communities4.03.6
People & Society2.22.4
Pets & Animals1.01.6
Real Estate0.70.7

SERP Volatility – Mobile

SERP volatility for the last 30 days – all categories

Source: SEMrush

Mobile SERP features most impacted by update

SERP volatility for the last 30 days – all categories

SERP Volatility – Desktop

SERP volatility for the last 30 days – all categories

Source: SEMrush

Desktop SERP features most impacted by update

Source: SEMrush
Source: SEMrush
Source: SEMrush
Source: SEMrush

What Does Google Consider a “High-Quality” Review? 

Google published a list of factors that make up high-quality reviews for products, services, destinations, games, movies and more.

In Google’s eyes, a high-quality review:  

  • Is evaluated from a user’s perspective.
  • Demonstrates that the reviewer is knowledgeable about what they are reviewing
  • Provides visual, audio or other evidence of experience with what is being reviewed to support the expertise and reinforce the authenticity of the review.
  • Shares quantitative measurements about how something measures up in various categories of performance.
  • Explains what sets something apart from its competitors.
  • Covers comparable things to consider, or explains which might be best for certain uses or circumstances.
  • Discusses the benefits and drawbacks of something, based on original research.
  • Describes how a product has evolved from previous models or releases to provide improvements, address issues, or otherwise help users in making a purchase decision.
  • Focuses on the most important decision-making factors.
  • Describes key choices in how a product has been designed and their effect on the users beyond what the manufacturer says.
  • Include links to other useful resources to help a reader make a decision.
  • Consider including links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.
  • When recommending something as the best overall or the best for a certain purpose, includes why the reviewer considers it the best, with first-hand supporting evidence.

Need Support with Your SEO Review Strategy? 

So far, the update has resulted in minimal volatility in search results. But, as always, we will be keeping a close eye on all of our clients’ search engine performance throughout the rollout. 

If you think your site may have been impacted by this update, reach out to the Noble Studios team for support in regaining your search engine rankings. CTA for Noble Studios and link to SEO services page. 

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