What are seller ratings?
You may have noticed that you are naturally more drawn to certain Google Ads than others… at eKomi we attribute this fact to the power of Social Proof. Ads that display the shiny star rating next/under their title (called a Seller Rating Extension) are not only visually more attractive than those without stars and naturally stand out among their competition, but they also generate more confidence and trust at first glance, before you even click on the link. But don’t just take our word for it. Google confirmed this fact on their own AdWords blog a couple years back when seller ratings first came out, supported by the statistic that “ads with Seller Ratings get a 17% higher Click-Through-Rate (CTR) than the same ads without ratings.” While markets that have had Seller Rating Extensions available for many years have seen a stabilization of this figure closer to 10%, businesses in both new and established markets experience a significant boost thanks to these 5 stars.
In simple terms, these stars basically represent the rating of your business in the eyes of Google and other major search engines. Google aggregates reviews about your business from accredited, independent review services (keep reading below for more details), and gives your business an overall score out of 5. Google calls these reviews “Seller Ratings” as they represent your customers’ opinions about the overall performance of your business instead of your products or specific services, but they are also commonly referred to online as “Merchant Reviews,” “Customer Reviews” and simply “Star Ratings” (in the interest of consistency, we will keep referring to them as Seller Ratings). You can access an overview of all of the certified reviews attributed to your business by inserting your domain after the “q=” instead of the “XXXX” in the following link:
(NOTE: If no reviews show up, that means you are not eligible to display these stars on your Ads. Keep reading if you’re interested in getting your business on the map!) This page shows you a breakdown of all reviews and ratings that Google has indexed about a business and the sources from which they have been collected. See an example here
As you can see, Japan Rail Pass have collected over 1400 independently certified reviews in the last 12 months, a great majority of which are 5-stars, giving them an overall rating of 4.8 stars in total. Therefore, when you search for the company on Google and their Ad shows up, it is displayed with their average star rating under the link and before the description.
Clicking on the “rating” word right next to the stars will take you back to the review breakdown, so that interested clients who need an extra nudge can get more information about the company before deciding to click on their Ad. NOTE: These stars will also appear on Bing /Yahoo Ads in similar styles, and are also linked to a breakdown of the individual reviews.
How can a business collect seller ratings? And who should be doing this?
So now that you have a general understanding of what Seller Ratings are, and how they are displayed as a Seller Rating Extension, surely the next question on your mind is “How can I collect Seller Ratings for my business?” As you may have already noticed, reviews from Social Media and other portals do not qualify as Google Seller Ratings. There are only a small selection of independent companies that are able to syndicate reviews to Google. The reason behind this is simple: Google has set up some basic regulations regarding reviews, their content and how they are collected in order to preserve the integrity of the reviews that form your official seller rating, and only a handful of companies are licensed by Google and have the technology to enforce these regulations.
In terms of which industries can take advantage of this, the answer is simple. Any business that can collect enough reviews from its clients to meet the criteria below and invests in AdWords is a prime candidate to enable seller rating extension.
Since Seller Ratings are an automated extension type, these do not need to be “set up” and there is no way for businesses to control whether they show up. Nonetheless, they will be picked up automatically if you meet all of the following criteria. 1) Your reviews have been collected and syndicated by a Google-licensed site as previously mentioned. 2) You have selected the correct campaign type for your AdWords, namely “Search Network campaigns.” And 3) you have accumulated the minimum qualifying data for your seller ratings to be considered relevant: at least 150 unique reviews with a composite rating of at least 3.5 stars or higher.
Once you have ticked the above points, your business is eligible to display stars on your Ads! However, Google also posts the following recommendations in order to make your seller ratings more likely to show consistently: provide your customers with a consistently high level of service (of course), keep your company name and website consistent, and periodically check your performance with Google’s extensions report. Following these best practice tips is the most effective way to get your stars featured on your Ads.
How long is the process?
By collecting reviews through a third party service and pro-actively requesting feedback from your clients, most businesses will surpass the 150 minimum quickly. Of course, the more touchpoints you have and the more of the clientele you can reach, the quicker you will be able to accumulate the necessary reviews. Nonetheless, it takes a while for Google to index them, so do not be surprised if there are a couple weeks of lag time in between. On average, we have noticed that it can take up to 4 weeks in some cases for this indexing process, and until then there might be some discrepancy in the number of reviews you have collected and those showing on your seller rating page. But don’t fret: so long as you are using one of the Google-approved review services like ours, you meet the above criteria and you have followed all of Google’s recommended best-practices as listed here, your ratings feed will be created and sent to Google in the format it requires, and your stars will be appearing on your Ads shortly.
Why do you need them?
Increased CTR & Conversion Rate
As previously mentioned, the increase in CTR on Ads that display stars on their Seller Rating Extension vs. Ads that do not have this extension active is 17% on average per Google’s statistics. But what does this mean for your business? If more people click on your Ad, not only are you achieving a greater return on investment for your Pay-Per-Click campaign, you are also attracting more of the right kind of traffic to your site by building browser confidence.
Reduced Cost & Increased Quality Score
When your CTR increases, so does the quality score of your Ad as your search result becomes more relevant. This will result in a drop of your CPC, making your Ads not only more effective but also more efficient.
Increased Social Proof: Improved Perception, Credibility, and Transparency
The fact that browsers can easily access a breakdown of all the Google-approved ratings associated to your business provides them with a sense of transparency and builds their trust in your company. Even if you have a couple negative reviews, the fact that prospective clients can easily access the genuine opinions of others about your business will inevitably aid them in their purchasing decision.
This undeniable effect has also been the subject of recent scientific research, which drew the conclusions that star ratings have a very positive influence on people’s perception. The scientists behind the study showed test groups an image of some headphones with a detailed feature description and asked them to rate this product on a 5-star scale. They then showed that same pair of headphones to another test group, however this time they replaced the product descriptions with an average star rating and rating breakdown.
As you can see in this graphic above, the group that saw only the description gave it a rating of 2/5 stars, while the group that was presented with a pre-existing star rating tended to skew their perception of the product favorably to match the average, attributing an overall rating of 4/5 stars. Furthermore, the study noted that the number of reviews shown also had an impact on perception, skewing the results to align even more with the average.
This is a testament to the power of Social Proof. If your business, products, and Ads display star ratings, you are already influencing the opinion of browsers, increasing the likelihood of turning them into customers and thus boosting sales.
The fact is, consumers nowadays trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. Bright Local’s 2017 survey found that “73% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.” Reading reviews has basically become a requirement, the logical step before proceeding to a purchase. Therefore, not only should your business collect reviews, you should also showcase these in the best, most accessible way possible, making your star rating synonymous with your company. Take advantage of Google’s Seller Rating Extension for your Ads and increase their conversion!
Ready to start collecting Seller Rating? Book a demo here