John Mueller, a Google search attorney, recommends using original images when posting product reviews in order to take advantage of the algorithm update that rewards in-depth search.
This came during a Google Search Central SEO Business Hours Hangout recorded on Feb. 4.
A website owner joins the live stream to ask Mueller about best practices for using images in product reviews.
It asks if editing images located elsewhere on the web would be sufficient for Google to consider them unique content.
Or is it better for the site owner to use the original photos that he took himself?
Here is Mueller’s response.
Google recommendations for images in product reviews
Google launched an algorithm update last year designed to reward product reviews with in-depth, direct search.
- See: Google Product Reviews update is published in search results
To take advantage of the algorithm update, Google recommends providing unique content other than what is available from the manufacturer.
So the question is whether editing existing photos is enough to make them unique, or if Google wants to see the original photos.
“Unique” refers to photos you took yourself, not artificially enhanced ones, Mueller says.
While Google’s algorithm can’t automatically distinguish between original and edited images, this is something the Quality Rater team at Google will look for when doing a manual review.
“I think the guidelines we have for reviews, or the recommendations we have, should really focus on the unique images that you create for these products, not the artificial feedback images.
I don’t think our systems will recognize that automatically, but it’s likely something we’ll look at, at least on a manual basis, from time to time.
So when you look at the recommendations that we have, in terms of reviews, it seems like it’s not really in line with what we’re trying to do there, where we’re trying to make an actual bubble of reviews, where we can say someone actually tested this product in real life.”
To clarify, the site owner follows up by asking if it would be a better option to go with the original studio photos.
“I think that would be perfect.”
The overarching goal of updating Google’s product review algorithm is to promote content written by people who have personally experienced what they review.
One way an author can prove that they have tested a product themselves is by taking their own photos of it.
This does not mean that it is impossible to arrange with stock photos.
In fact, since the Google algorithm cannot distinguish between original and modified images, you may come across well-ranked sites with images from the manufacturer of the product.
However, this does not mean that you should follow their lead.
When the Google Quality Rater team, which is made up of real people, enters and evaluates product review search results, they will notice websites that use their own images.
Before long, you may not see sites with stock images arranged in the same positions you used to, while websites with original images get a boost.
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:
Featured image: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock