Seller ratings are the online search engines’ reward for businesses that have catered to their customers and received positive feedback. Google provides a special feature that showcases businesses’ customer feedback as an average star rating alongside their AdWords ads. This star rating also appears in Google Shopping if the business has a Google Merchant account. It is no longer a requirement for a business to have a Google Merchant account in order to receive a seller rating. Yahoo and BingAds can also showcase seller ratings on their search engines.
Why Are Seller Ratings Important?
A Google study determined that seller rating extensions in AdWord Search ads can increase customer traffic, or click-through rates, up to 17%. Some businesses that have used these extensions for a longer period of time saw only a 10% increase. Regardless, statistics show that seller ratings improve advertising efforts, increase companies’ online visibility, and enhance companies’ trust with existing and new customers.
How Does a Business Receive a Seller Rating?
Google utilizes its own programs, such as Google Customer Reviews and Google Consumer Surveys, as well as approved third-party systems, including eKomi, to determine seller ratings on a 1-5 rating system. Reviews deemed dubious are not included in the calculations, which is why vetting reviews for authenticity is an important task for any business. Moreover, the reviews must be relevant to the content featured in the ad.
Businesses, large and small, new and old, need to follow the criteria below in order for the seller rating to appear in the search results:
- Provide paid services or goods to customers.
- Use “Search Network with Display Select” or “Search Network Only” with subtype “All Features.”
- Have a high ad ranking, which is made up of the ad’s quality, the bid, and the landing page.
- Have at least 150 unique customer reviews in the past 12 months. Google just increased this amount. The number of reviews used to be 30. Clearly, Google values a business’s continued accumulation of customer reviews.
- Have an average rating of 3.5 based on customer reviews. Displaying a rating below that could hurt rather than help a business.
- Have at least 10 of the reviews in the language of the appropriate Google domain. For example, an American-based business uses google.com, and its English-written reviews will appear there. However, searching for this American-based business in Italy will not yield the seller ratings since the reviews are not written in Italian.
Are Seller Rates the Only Option to Enhance an Online Ad?
From 2013 to early 2018, Google allowed advertising businesses to feature a reputable quote or brief summary about their services and products underneath their seller ratings. These were known as review extensions or review snippets. Even though this feature no longer exists, Google encourages the following add-ons for ads:
- Sitelink extensions are links that take customers to particular pages on a website or social media site that pique customers’ curiosity. These links can easily be updated.
- Callout extensions are additional, short bits of text, such as “free shipping” or “great for the environment.”
- Structured snippet extensions go beneath an ad in the form of a header or two and a list of values underneath the heading(s). For example, airline companies might want to list “destinations” and the names of the places where their pilots travel.
Each of these extensions can customize business ads, highlighting the most vital bits of information, such as deals, benefits, etc., to encourage a customer to visit a business’s website. Such options are helpful, but the seller rating extensions are still of the utmost importance.
What Can Your Business Do to Prepare for Seller Ratings?
Seller raters do not just happen to a business. What a business does each and every day impacts its seller rating. The rating system is not a set-in-stone-forever number. As a business grows and changes, so does its customer base. A business’s 3 can be a 3.5 with continued strides and commitment. Here are a few pointers to implement:
- Make seller ratings a vital part of your ongoing marketing efforts. At the next marketing meeting, include a series of checklist items to get your seller ratings where you want them to be. If you need assistance with generating checklist items, make note of the following points.
- Encourage authentic customer reviews. Consider making it a part of the transaction process. Customers receive confirmation of their service or product as well as a gentle reminder to leave feedback about their particular experiences. Reach out to previous customers about their experiences, if necessary, with a kindly written request.
- Take precautions against false customer reviews, which can happen when a general review button is on your business website. Anyone, not necessarily a customer, can troll your site and write a random review. Whether it is positive or negative, it does not count as an authentic customer review.
- Set the record straight about negative feedback and respond directly to your customers. This direct approach shows that you care, are genuinely open to helpful feedback of all kinds, and have nothing to hide.
- If you want to improve your business’s rating, consider the strategies of other successful businesses. Some of these businesses may be your competitors, and some may be in a different field.
- Be patient during the lag time, which can take several weeks, between obtaining all your reviews and Google organizing them.
- For help in any or all of the above areas, consult third-party feedback companies, like eKomi, which Google has approved. If you run a mom-and-pop business with fewer resources and customers than larger companies, these independent reviewers can help you get the 150 verified reviews. Hire the reviewer site that suits your needs and budget. Remember, to get the 17% increase in click-through rates that Google predicts, you need to spend a bit of money upfront.
Seller ratings are an effective tool to showcase the success businesses have achieved with their customer base over time. Ultimately, the rating system can encourage businesses to keep moving forward rather than resting on their laurels.