Join Fusion’s SEO team as we round up last month’s major industry updates

December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On 1st December Google announced the rollout of a new product reviews update, following on from a previous update released in April 2021.

The news was announced within a new Search Central blogpost, with Google writing that the update was designed to reward “high-quality product reviews” and that webmasters may notice changes in how their reviews are ranked as a result.

According to Google, the decision to release a new update was largely based on new feedback from users on what is viewed as “trustworthy” or “useful” review content. This feedback has formed the basis of two new best practice recommendations, taken into account in the most recent update:

  •  Provide evidence such as visuals, audio, or other links of your own experience with the product, to support your expertise and reinforce the authenticity of your review.
  • Include links to multiple sellers to give the reader the option to purchase from their merchant of choice.

As well as forming a part of the most recent update, the new recommendations have now also been added to Google’s official documentation around product reviews.

As with the previous update, only websites offering product reviews should be impacted by the recent release, with no other content types impacted.

Google Search Console Experiences Widespread Bugs

December was a rocky month for Google Search Console, with the platform experiencing at least two widespread issues impacting the accuracy and accessibility of data.

In mid-December, many webmasters reported a large spike in redirect issues within the platform, often across multiple websites. Following coverage of this, on 13th December Google stated that the spikes reported were false and that this was due to an issue with the platform:

Just a few days later another issue was reported, with some users finding that they were unable to access and essentially locked out of their account. Google again announced this was a bug:

Google has since confirmed that both issues are now resolved, although some within the industry are continuing to report sporadic issues with the platform. No further information has been provided as to the reasons behind the bugs, with Google simply stating that they were “internal issues”.

No Penalty For Failing to No-Follow Affiliate Links

In a recent Q&A session, Google’s John Mueller stated that failing to correctly no-follow affiliate links is unlikely to pose a real issue.

In answer to the question “Would I be penalized if I don’t set the rel sponsored or rel no follow for my affiliate links?”, Mueller stated:

Probably not. […] From our point of view, affiliate links fall into that category of something financial attached to the links, so we really strongly recommend to [add a rel sponsored or rel no-follow tag]. But for the most part if it doesn’t come across as you selling links, then it’s not likely to be the case that [Google] would manually penalize a website for having affiliate links and not marking them up.

As affiliate links indicate some kind of financial relationship between the linking and linked-to website, Google considers it best practice to ensure that they are tagged with a “rel=sponsor” attribute or”rel=nofollow” attribute. Both tags prevent equity from being transferred to the linked-to website, with the sponsor tag also indicating to search engines clearly that a financial agreement is in place between the two websites.

However, Mueller’s answer indicates that failing to use the tag for affiliate links is unlikely to cause any real issue, despite this being contrary to best-practice guidelines.

Watch the question at 31:58 here.

100k URLs Unlikely to Pose Crawl Budget Issue

Google’s John Mueller recently stated that websites sized around 100k URLs shouldn’t encounter issues with crawl budget. In response to a question on Twitter focused on whether to de-index lower-quality content, Mueller tweeted:

Although Google’s official documentation on crawl budget contains brief definitions of what it considers a “Large site” (+1,000,000 URLs) and a “Medium or larger site” (+10,000 URLs), there is no information given on how well Google is able to handle both size brackets.

As such, Mueller’s tweet provides a useful – albeit informal – guideline for webmasters to follow when considering the impact of website size.

If you found this update useful, check out our latest blog posts for the latest news, and if you’re interested in finding out more about what we can do for your brand, get in touch with the team today.