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Google search updates will prioritize real reviews over clickbait

Google search updates will prioritize real reviews over clickbait


The first update starts rolling out on Monday

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google is making a series of updates to Search that aim to tackle clickbait and improve the relevancy of search results, prioritizing original and authentic reviews over recycled information that passes around aggregator sites. The changes in the form of two updates are being rolled out in the weeks ahead, according to a blog post announcing the ranking updates.

“We know people don’t find content helpful if it seems like it was designed to attract clicks rather than inform readers. So starting next week for English users globally, we’re rolling out a series of improvements to Search to make it easier for people to find helpful content made specifically by and for people,” reads the announcement. “This update will help make sure that unoriginal, low-quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search, particularly for online-educational materials, entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.”

A general search ranking update named the “Helpful Content Update” will start rolling out globally to English language users on Monday, August 22nd, according to Google spokesperson Jennifer Kutz.

A second update “to make it even easier to find high-quality, original reviews” is expected in the coming weeks. The tech giant has tweaked product review rankings many times before, most recently in December 2021 and March 2022.

“Make it even easier to find high-quality, original reviews”

These updates might be particularly helpful to anyone using the append Reddit “hack” to filter out unhelpful websites in search results in favor of real human experiences. You can see this in action when hunting for hardware reviews. For example, beginning a Google search for “Sony WH” in the US suggests two results with “Reddit” on the end in favor of the word “review” for the popular Sony WH-1000XM series headphones. While Google’s blog post doesn’t mention Reddit as a source for the more personalized and authentic content, it’s hard not to make the association given recent search trends.

A google search box autofilled with responses.
The search results for many popular gadgets suggest people are trying to avoid aggregator reviews in favor of Reddit recommendations.

Comparably, the Brave web browser released a new feature that also gives Reddit and Stack Exchange content a boost. These can be found under its “Discussions” section without having to add anything to the end of search terms. The announcement for this browser feature alluded to beliefs that “Google search is dying” after noting that more people are turning to Reddit to get authentic reviews and answers to inquiries.

Google is providing guidance for creators on its Search Central blog to ensure they’re “creating content that will be successful” after the company’s new updates roll out.