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Study: Google Favors Ecommerce Sites & User-Generated Content

Study reveals Google search shifts: ecommerce and user-generated content rise, while product review sites lose visibility.

  • Google favors e-commerce sites and user-generated content, study finds.
  • Product review and affiliate sites are losing visibility.
  • Diversifying traffic sources is crucial for affected sites.
Person working on laptop computer shopping on e-commerce store.

A recent study by the digital marketing agency Amsive documented a notable change in Google’s search results rankings over the last year.

The study found that Google is surfacing more ecommerce websites and sites featuring user-generated content while reducing the visibility of product review and affiliate marketing sites.

Here’s a look at the findings and the implications for online businesses if the shifts continue.

Ecommerce Dominance In Search Results

The study found a marked increase in ecommerce sites appearing in top search positions for many commercial queries.

Keywords that previously returned results from product reviews and affiliate sites now predominantly feature online retailers.

For example:

  • Bird feeders“: Ecommerce stores now hold all 10 top positions, replacing several product review sites from the previous year.
  • Laptops“: The top 10 results now consist exclusively of ecommerce websites, with some appearing multiple times.
  • Towel warmer“: Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Walmart have multiple listings, completely replacing affiliate websites in the top results.

Rise Of User-Generated Content

Alongside ecommerce sites, user-generated content (UGC) platforms have seen a significant boost in search visibility.

Reddit, Quora, and YouTube now frequently appear in top positions for various queries where they were previously absent or ranked lower.

This trend is particularly noticeable for longer queries like “toys for 2-year-old boys,” where UGC sites are more visible.

Impact On Product Review & Affiliate Sites

The shift in search rankings introduces challenges for product review and affiliate websites, as they’re now less visible for many commercial queries.

While Google hasn’t explicitly stated that product review content is considered “unhelpful,” the data suggests that recent updates have disproportionately affected these pages.

Implications For Digital Marketing Strategies

Due to these changes, product review and affiliate sites may need to reconsider their strategies to maintain visibility and traffic.

Lily Ray and Silvia Gituto, the study’s authors, suggest diversifying traffic sources through:

  • Increased focus on digital media and PR.
  • Enhanced social media engagement.
  • Creation of video content for platforms like YouTube Shorts and TikTok.
  • Development of podcast content.
  • Active participation in relevant online forums.

What This Means For Websites

For ecommerce sites, this is an opportunity to gain more visibility and traffic.

They could take advantage of this shift by getting more customer reviews and user-generated content on their sites.

Product review and affiliate sites may need to change strategies.

Promoting themselves on social media, making videos, starting podcasts, and engaging in online forums could help compensate for lost Google search traffic.

Adapting to these changes, especially around user-generated content, will likely be needed for continued success.

Featured Image: hanss/Shutterstock

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Study: Google Favors Ecommerce Sites & User-Generated Content

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