The April 2023 Google Reviews Update closed on April 25, 2023, ending a fairly significant update that hit many affected publishers.
Any anecdotal fluctuations in search ranking observed after this date should be considered part of the daily ranking change.
The announcement was made on Google’s official search status dashboard.
This is the understated announcement of what has been a consistent update for many:
“Ranking Impact Incident
The April 2023 rating update has been released.
The incident began on 04/12/2023 at 09:00 and ended on 04/25/2023 at 11:24 (all times in the US/Pacific).
DATE TIME DESCRIPTION
Apr 25, 2023 11:24 AM PDT
The rollout was completed on April 25, 2023.”
April 2023 Google reviews update
The April 2023 assessment update was notable for affecting more than just products.
It’s an algorithm, called a “rating system” by Google, that examines websites that provide recommendations for products, services, travel destinations, games, movies, and other things.
The official guide to Google’s rating system algorithm states:
“The rating system is designed to rank first-party articles, blog posts, pages, or similar standalone content written for the purpose of providing a recommendation, opinion, or analysis.
It does not evaluate third-party reviews, such as B. those posted by users in the reviews section of a product or service page.”
The rating system works page by page, but may switch to a site-wide rating if the main content of the site is ratings.
Google has created a guide called “Create Quality Reviews” to help publishers understand how Google identifies quality reviews.
It’s important to read the guide as it aims to help those looking to rank on Google search and other surfaces with a long list of best practices to follow.
The update started on April 12, 2023 and ran until April 25, 2023 11:24 am PDT.
A WebmasterWorld forum member gave his take on the reviews update in response to the announcement of the end of the rollout:
“The umpteenth review update is ready:
There’s nothing positive to say so I won’t do it for now.”
This is not surprising as there have been quite a few complaints about this update.
The day before, April 24, 2023, some shared on the forum how badly this update was going for them.
A member posted:
“Seeing big drops again. We’ve recovered to the same levels as before the March core update, which is now swinging wildly again.
Our mobile traffic has increased slightly and desktop traffic has decreased significantly.
Conversions appear to be stable, but far fewer impressions and clicks show up in GSC.
I’m not sure what’s going on, but I could really use some stability for a while.
Our company is going through a lot right now and that’s certainly not helping.”
And another forum member replied:
“The full extent of my traffic loss is in the US/Canada and concentrated in a few high traffic parts of the site.
USA is at -45% this morning and my top landing page is at -88% today.
The homepage seems to be recovering, as are a few other landing pages…but it’s up and down.
I don’t understand why such high losses… I’m searching and finding myself exactly where I’ve always been, no ranking changes reported… but GSC shows a big divergence between clicks (way down) and impressions (rising).”
Google update rollout is complete – what do you do now?
Sites affected by the rating system update may need to honestly rate their content and methods.
I say may because this update focused on ratings. So if the affected pages are not included your Reviews or opinions, then something else could be the cause.
Third-party ratings, such as user-generated ratings, are not evaluated as part of the rating system algorithm.
Identify which keywords and corresponding pages were impacted to determine if traffic decreases correspond to impacted webpages that contain reviews.
Google’s recommendations emphasize that reviews should be based on genuine reviews of the service, product, or thing being reviewed.
Experience with what is being rated is key to doing well with the rating system.
Things like measurements, comparisons if applicable, are important. Original analyzes and competence signals are also important.
Google’s documentation on this ranking system states:
“The review system ensures people see reviews that share sound research, rather than flimsy content that simply summarizes a range of products, services, or other things.
The rating system is designed to evaluate articles, blog posts, pages, or similar standalone content from first-party authors that are written with the aim of providing a recommendation, opinion, or analysis.”
An important and probably frustrating feature of the rating system is that it is not a constantly updated algorithm.
Sites that are affected and apply fixes may not see a rank change until the next update.
If the affected webpages seem fine to you, it may be time for someone unrelated to the site to take a look.
Having someone else look at something can help identify things that aren’t obvious. When in doubt, I contact friends for what I call a reality check.
Featured image by Shutterstock/Ivelin Radkov