Google not only changes how it presents information to users and updates algorithms, but the way users search is also changing. SEO best practices are changing every year, so it's best to keep up with what it means to properly optimize a website today.
Google has released five Product Review Updates since April 2021.The associated guidelines that Google published for writing product reviews recommend specific on-page factors that must exist in order for the page to be ranked for product review-related search queries. This is an extraordinary change in how sites are ranked. Google has redefined what it means for a webpage to be relevant for a search query.
The definition of relevance simply meant that a webpage has to be about what the user was searching for, in this case, product reviews. Product reviews were commonly thought of as expressing an opinion about a product, comparing the features of the product to the cost, and expressing a judgment if something is worth purchasing or not.
But now, it's not enough for a webpage to review a product. It must also be authentic and useful. That's a big change in how sites are ranked.
Google calls them "best practices" but also says they will "take effect," which implies that it's something in the algorithm that is looking for these two qualities. The first signal is about the authenticity of the product review.
The second signal is specific to sites that don't sell the reviewed products, and it's about being useful to site visitors by giving them multiple stores to purchase a product. Authenticity and usefulness as signals of relevance is a huge shift for SEO.
Search is increasingly about context
Context is the setting in which something is said or done, which provides meaning to those actions or settings. The context of a search can influence the search results. What's happening is that Google is redefining what it means to be relevant by understanding the user context.
When a user searches for [pizza], Google does not show recipes for pizza; it shows local pizza restaurants. Google defines the meaning of the keyword phrase "pizza" according to the context of the user, which includes the geographic location of that user.
Another context that influences search results is current events, which can change the meaning of a search phrase. This is a part of what is known as the Freshness algorithm.
The Freshness algorithm takes into account time-based factors that can change the meaning of a search phrase, and this influences what websites are shown. So, those are the contexts of geography and time influencing what it means to be relevant for a search query. And, Search is increasingly about topics, too.
You'll need to set around twenty minutes aside to read this article, but I found it extremely useful and interesting.
I'd love to hear what people here think of it, too!