Google’s John Suggests Using Original Photos for Product Reviews

Original Photos for Product Reviews


As Google’s new recommendation implies that original photos for product reviews should be included, websites that want to benefit from Google’s product review algorithm update should focus on using original photos only. Are you thinking about how to go about this? Well, all you have to do is just hire the services of our digital marketing company in San Jose. 

Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller recommends that websites should use original photos when publishing product reviews to benefit from the algorithm update that rewards in-depth research.

This was stated during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on February 4, 2022.

In the video, a website owner can be seen joining the live stream to ask Mueller about best practices for using images in product reviews.

He had asked if editing existing photos found elsewhere on the web would be enough for Google to consider their unique content. Or would it be better for the site owner to use original photos he’s taken himself?

Here’s Mueller’s response to it.

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Google’s Recommendations To Have 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 that providing unique content beyond what is available from the manufacturer is essential.

So the question here is whether editing existing photos is 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.”

Along with having the right and original photos in product reviews, it is also important to have content on your website that paves the way to conversions. Manage your content strategy appropriately with the help of our content marketing company in San Francisco.

Though Google’s algorithm can’t automatically distinguish between original and edited photos, this will be taken into account by Google’s Quality Rater team by 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 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.”

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For further clarification, the website owner followed up by asking if the best option is to go with original studio photos.

For which Mueller said:

“I think that would be ideal.”

The overarching goal of Google’s product review algorithm update with this regard is to boost particularly those contents written by people who have personally tested what they’re reviewing.

This is emphasized because one way an author can prove they’ve personally tested a product is to take their own photos of it.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to rank with stock photos though.

But, in fact, since Google’s algorithm can’t tell the difference between original and edited photos, you may still come across sites ranking quite well with images from the product manufacturer.

However, that doesn’t indicate that you should follow their lead.

When Google’s Quality Rater team, which consists of real people, decides to go in and evaluate product review search results they’ll notice which websites are using their photos.

If you’re already using hreflang and Search Console to target certain nations, Mueller mentions that employing subdirectories won’t make much of a difference. Hence, if your website isn’t set up in this manner, you don’t have to start from scratch.

It’s merely another geotargeting signal that Google searches for in addition to the others.

“In practice, I don’t hear a lot of feedback from people saying this makes a big difference. So, I don’t know if it’s something you actually need to do, especially if it’s a more complex setup.

But I would try to make it so that it’s as clear as possible which country is relevant for the individual URLs. Kind of with a clear path in the URL.

I think there was a question someone submitted as well about using the country as a URL parameter at the end. Theoretically, you can do that. I think for our systems it makes it a lot harder to recognize which URLs belong to which country. So, I would see that as being less likely for us to pick up for geotargeting.

Obviously, if you’re using hreflang, then that’s less of an issue there because you can do that on a per-URL basis.”

Very soon you may not see that the sites with stock photos rank in the same positions as they used to, and those websites with original photos will get a boost.

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Bottom Line

Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller’s advice to utilize original photos for product reviews was made with the intention for site owners to benefit from the algorithm update for product reviews that encourages in-depth study.  This announcement had come during the February 4th, 2022 Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout. 

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The primary purpose of Google’s product review algorithm update is solely to promote material authored by users who have directly tested the product being reviewed. Taking their own images of a product is one method an author may indicate they’ve personally tried it.

So, moving forward it shouldn’t come as a surprise that sites that hold genuine reviews with original photo content will definitely see a higher side on the ranking list. Getting in touch with our agency which is the top SEO consultant in San Francisco will definitely help to strategize your SEO efforts. 


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