Earlier this week it was noticed by Patrick Altoft that Google has to be testing seller ratings on the UK AdWords results, just in time to take advantage of increased Christmas marketing budgets. The ratings will create a difference of value between those paid links with stars, and those without.
So far, Google has not announced the roll out in the UK, although it is definitely being tested, with more product reviews being added daily. According to the information from Google that was released at the time of the US roll out earlier in the year, seller rating extensions attaches your merchant star rating from Google Product Search to your AdWords ads.
Google Product Search aggregates reviews from a broad base of sources across the web, including tripadvisor.co.uk and ciao.co.uk. Google only shows ratings for AdWords ads in the US for advertisers that provide users with paid goods or services, or those that enable the buying or selling of products or services via a marketplace. You do not need to have a Google Merchant Centre account to be eligible to show your ads with seller ratings. The rules on the other side of the pond also state that ‘if your online store is rated in Google Product Search, you have 4 or more stars, and you have at least 30 reviews, you’ll automatically get seller ratings with your ads.’ So we’re assuming that the rules will be similar here.
This will mean that the importance of getting customer reviews- and good ones at that- across a range of reviewing sites will become more important. From consumer point of view it will be preferable to see a link with reviews than one without, with those shiny gold stars luring searchers to pick the one that has been reviewed. It will become increasingly important for brands to monitor what is being said about their companies on the web in general, and especially on review sites. Getting enough good reviews could prove difficult, as often people only review a product if they have something negative to say, and as we already know review sites are a hot spot for spamming with fake reviews by naughty competitors (in all seriousness, fake reviews are illegal). Recently tripadvisor.co.uk, a review site for the travel industry, stated that it was going to clampdown on fake reviews by having a fake review amnesty, naming and shaming fraudulent reviewers and insisting on more detailed information from the consumer, but this could put off real reviewers as they might not want to reveal their own identity or contact details to the site. A fine line will have to be found between putting spammers off and keeping consumers reviewing.
As found by research from IAB and Youtube, often your social network is more willing to buy from, endorse and be advertised to buy your company. Ambergreen recommends calling your social media contacts to action, encouraging them to not only participate in your marketing and buy your products, but to review them when they do. If they choose to follow or befriend you, it is likely that they are happy to endorse you, and as long as you don’t make your requests too forceful, and are willing for negative feedback too.
It goes without saying that the seller ratings will affect Pay Per Click, as consumers are likely to trust the reviews of their peers, and a site with stars will look much more appealing than ones without. How much of an effect is still to be seen.