Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller recommends using original photos when publishing product reviews in order to benefit from the algorithm update that rewards in-depth research.
This is stated during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on February 4.
A website owner joins the livestream to ask Mueller about best practices for using images in product reviews.
He asks if editing existing photos found elsewhere on the web would be enough for Google to consider them unique content.
Or would it be better for the site owner to use original photos he’s taken himself?
Here’s Mueller’s response.
Google’s Recommendations For Images In Product Reviews
Google rolled out an algorithm update last year that’s designed to reward product reviews with in-depth, first-hand research.
To benefit from the algorithm update, Google recommends providing unique content beyond what is available from the manufacturer.
So the question is whether editing existing photos are enough to make them unique, or if Google wants to see original photos.
Mueller says “unique” refers to photos you’ve taken yourself, not artificially enhanced photos.
While Google’s algorithm can’t automatically distinguish between original and edited photos, this is something Google’s Quality Rater team will look for when doing a manual review.
“I think the guidelines that we have for reviews, or the recommendations that we have, should really be focused on unique photos that you create of these products, so not artificial review photos.
I don’t think our systems would automatically recognize that, but but it’s probably something that we would look at, at least on a manual basis, from time to time.
So looking at the recommendations that we have, with regards to reviews, it feels like it’s not really in line with what we’re trying to do there, where we’re trying to really bubble up reviews, where we can tell that someone is actually testing this product in real life.”
For clarification, the website owner follows up by asking if the best option is to go with original studio photos.
“I think that would be ideal.”
The overarching goal of Google’s product review algorithm update is to boost content written by people who have personally tested what they’re reviewing.
One way an author can prove they’ve personally tested a product is to take their own photos of it.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to rank with stock photos.
In fact, since Google’s algorithm can’t tell the difference between original and edited photos, you may come across sites ranking quite well with images from the product manufacturer.
However, that doesn’t mean you should follow their lead.
When Google’s Quality Rater team, which consists of real people, goes in and evaluates product review search results they’ll notice which websites use their own photos.
Before long youmay not see the sites with stock photos ranking in the same positions they used to, while the websites with original photos get a boost.
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:
Featured Image: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock