Everyone knows that reviews and ratings are critical to success in today’s online marketplace. But do you understand why? How a five-star seller rating or an excellent product review can really boost your business? You need to realise that they mean so much more than simply making you look good to the next customer that browses your product. Here’s the lowdown on why reviews and ratings are worth their weight in gold stars.
Product reviews? Seller ratings? What’s the difference?
Both product and seller reviews and ratings are important to your business, but you need to be clear about the difference between them. Product ratings concern the single product being advertised, while seller ratings are specifically about the merchant advertising the product. As well as addressing different content, product and seller ratings are the subject of different requirements by Google to be included on your PLAs and Google Shopping seller pages.
Product ratings and reviews provide your buyers with useful information. They show up on your PLAs with an average star rating and a count of total reviews, and they’re compiled from multiple sites including merchants, third-party aggregators, editorial sites and users. Google sets out certain criteria (find out more) that need to be met, and will only show ratings if they deem them to be accurate and relevant to the user.
Seller ratings on Google Shopping are collated from various sources and are a “automated extension” in Google AdWords that shows up automatically if you meet the certain requirements, such as a minimum number of reviews in a 12 month period. These reviews are specific to your business and service and will only show on businesses with a rating above 3.5 stars.
Why do they matter so much?
You might think that online ratings and reviews are basically there for the benefit of the customer, but think again. Merchants benefit in a multitude of ways when their products attract great reviews and their service is highly rated. This is word-of-mouth marketing in digital form, and it can make a real difference in the following ways:
– You can aggregate your ratings and monitor your reviews as valuable market research
– They allow you to understand your customers’ opinions and needs—which you can feed into future product development
– Bad reviews can alert you to problems with your product or service
– You can use your customer feedback to enhance customer service
– Good reviews will encourage more customers to buy, boosting your sales—reviews correlate with purchase patterns and 78% of online searchers between the age of 18 and 64 are influenced by reviews
– Good reviews also build new customers’ trust in you
– Customer reviews are a form of user-generated content (UGC)—or earned media—influential with how search engines deliver results
– UGC on Google PLAs has proved to be more cost effective than paid search campaigns, resulting in higher SERP rankings
– UGC is frequently updated, key-word rich content—just what search engines are looking for
– Using rich snippets of product reviews has been shown to drive up CTR
Implementing reviews and ratings on your PLAs
If you don’t have a strategy for reviews and ratings, you’ll lose competitive edge. So how do you implement them?
– For product reviews to show up on your PLAs, you’ll need to share all of your product reviews with Google, either directly or via a third party. Go to the Google product rating interest form (link to form) to apply to share your own.
– Seller ratings can come from various sources – either sign-up to one or more of the following: Google Certified Shop, StellaService, Google Consumer Surveys or various third-party independent websites (find more information here).