Consumers increasingly turn to reviews to help them make online purchasing decisions. In fact, 90 percent of customers say reviews influence their buying decisions and 80 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Research has shown seller ratings have the potential to increase conversion rates by as much as 50 percent. Just look at how consumers trust Amazon and increasingly turn to it when buying online which leads to their revenue increasing consistently year-on-year.
On Google Shopping there are two types of ratings: product ratings which apply to individual products and seller ratings which apply to vendors and are crucial for establishing trust with buyers.
Seller ratings on Google Shopping give buyers an overview of how past customers viewed their experience of buying something from you. They take a split second for a customer to read, and can result in you getting a sale or not.
If you would like to begin establishing trust with customers before they even arrive at your website you should get a better understanding of how seller ratings work on Google Shopping.
What Are Seller Ratings?
Seller ratings are a five-star rating system that Google uses for merchants. It is a rating of your store or business that appear in Google Shopping search results and on product pages in Google Shopping.
Obviously, listings in Google Shopping search results with a seller rating stand out more than listings that have no rating. Also, listings with a high number of ratings, and listings with high numbers of stars, stand out even more.
Seller ratings also appear on PPC ads when you run AdWords campaigns and AdWords ads that have a seller rating get more clicks too.
The Impact of the Seller Ratings
Omnitail, reported a 107% increase in CTR for the ads with seller ratings as opposed to ads served without them. A product listing ad that showcases seller ratings and product ratings will increase the CTR and as a consequence improve the relevancy of your ads in Google Shopping.
Merchants have a tough time at getting customer reviews, as research has shown because only six percent of consumers always leave reviews after making a purchase. This can make it very difficult for small retailers to hit the 150 review minimum required by Google for the display of Seller Ratings.
The best way to optimize your chances of having a seller rating appear on your Google Shopping listings is to be proactive and take steps that will increase the likelihood of receiving customer reviews.
How Seller Ratings Work?
Google aggregates reviews from a number of different sources to come up with the star rating it gives your business. It is not a fixed rating, however. Instead, it changes as new reviews are added and old reviews are removed.
Google has changed the threshold from 30 reviews to at least 150 unique reviews in the past 12 months for your seller rating to appear.
According to Google's Adwords support team the reason for the change was:
“Our tech team found that the historical minimum of 30 reviews was prone to some quality issues. Increasing the threshold of required reviews allows us to have additional data on which to generate Seller Ratings, allowing for more stable scores to be generated. They felt that producing a high quality, stable signal in less places is more beneficial to users.”
You also must have an aggregated score across these 150 reviews of at least 3.5 out 5.
Google Shopping doesn't collect reviews directly, however. Instead, it uses a number of other sources, including Google sources and third-party sources, to get the review data that it then aggregates to come up with your rating. You have to participate in one or more of these review websites so that customers have the opportunity to leave a review. Some are free services, while others charge fees.
The sources where reviews are aggregated from include:
- Google Trusted Stores - this is a Google-owned rating service that lets consumers leave reviews after they complete a transaction. It is available to merchants in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, France, and Japan. It is free to sign up, but you have to complete an application process.
- Google Customer Reviews - this is a tool that Google offers to merchants that gives your customers a chance to leave feedback after a purchase on your website. Once accepted into the program (which is free), you have to add a code to your website. Your customers will then see a link to a survey on your checkout page. Google Customer Reviews are available to merchants in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden, and Turkey.
- Evaluation by Google and StellaService - StellaService is an information and measurement company. It has a partnership arrangement with Google to provide analysis of merchants. It is a premium service. Google also carries out its own independent analysis of some merchants looking specifically at the shopping experience they offer to customers.
- Review partners - Google also uses reviews from a number of respected review websites on the internet. This includes PriceGrabber, TrustPilot, Verified Reviews, Trusted Shops, TrustedCompany, Reevoo, ResellerRatings, and more. Each of these websites has different policies (and pricing structures) that enable merchants to use their service and/or manage their accounts.
It is important to remember that Google’s seller ratings are not updated in real-time. This means it can take some time for a new review to reflect in your rating – up to six weeks.
6 Smart Ways to improve your Seller Ratings for Google
1. Offer a great service
This goes without saying but striving to ensure an excellent experience for your customers is actually the most important ''optimization'' tactic you can work on.
Customer reviews are typically based on service so make sure you deliver on customer expectations: ship your products quickly, don’t charge high shipping fees, respond promptly to queries and accurately describe your products.
If you want to get some tips from Google on what you could improve even more you can get an evaluation from StellaService.
2. Make sure your merchant data is correct
Having the information in your Google Merchant Center up-to-date is important because incorrect data can result in reviews not being attributed to your company.
Make sure this information matches the information held on the review source as well. In particular, check the name of your store and the domain name of your website.
3. Respond positively to bad reviews
Bad reviews are never pleasant to read, but you should view them as an opportunity for your business.
You should deal with them by responding to the review and apologizing to the customer for the poor experience. Express your desire to investigate and then ask the customer to make contact via a private method - such as by email.
When responding to the feedback don't include the name of your business or search keywords in your answer.
If you think you have resolved the situation successfully and the customer is now happy, you could ask them to reconsider their review. They might, for example, post an update or a follow-up review.
4. Respond to good reviews
While responding to negative reviews is essential, thanking happy customers for their positive review shows up that you care.
Engage with positive reviewers by thanking them and use in your response the business name, city or relevant search keywords. Invite the customers to repeat the purchase and next time they order again from you add a personal touch to their order.
5. Ask for reviews
It's a well-known fact that customers are more inclined to leave a review after a negative experience and for every customer that complains 26 customers will remain silent.
The feedback of your satisfied customers is invaluable so why not ask your customers to leave you a review and give them a link to where they can do it? Why sit on a pile of gold and do nothing about it?
The best practices for urging customers to leave a feedback is to send an email to the customer once you have confirmation from the courier that their order is delivered.
This approach can result in up to 70 percent of your customers leaving you a review. This will make it much easier for you to reach Google’s 150 review minimum.
6. Use Google's product ratings as well
The ultimate goal of the seller rating is to gain visibility and establish trust in Google Shopping.
Another way to give even more visibility to your listings in Google Shopping is if you use product ratings.
Product ratings appear on products listed in Google Shopping as well as on shopping ads, and they feature prominently. Listings without them look incomplete and less compelling when displayed beside listings with a rating.
Ideally, you should include all three identifiers in your feed: GTIN, brand, and MPN. In fact, if you don't submit a GTIN and one exists for the product, Google might not approve the listing. You also have to submit a review feed to Google at least once a month.
Selling online is competitive. A seller rating is a way for you to remain competitive as it demonstrates to customers that you offer an excellent level of customer service and are an honest and trustworthy merchant. For most consumers, that is more important than getting the cheapest possible price.