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How to Maximise Your PPC Seller Ratings (Post 04/09/11 Update)

Nothing Lasts Forever – this should be the slogan for Google and their regular updates. A couple of weeks ago Google introduced an update on the seller rating extensions. Is Google just playing with us, and what is the true motive for this update? Get your notepads out and listen carefully:

Let’s just turn back the wheels of time to the year 2009, where Google introduced rich snippets, in order to represent search results describing people or containing reviews. Until now there were minor additions of rich snippets, such as products, events, recipes and many more.

Rich Snippets

The seller rating extension rolled out two years ago and helped people/customers to identify highly rated merchants, when they are searching for goods or services on Google. Your merchant star rating from Google Product Search was attached to your AdWords ads. Consequently, these star ratings were aggregated from review sites (Trustpilot, Bizrate, PriceGrabber) from all around the web, allowing people to find merchants that are highly recommended by other online shoppers.
Seller Rating Extensions
In order to qualify for this extension in the PAST, the seller needed 30 reviews in the past history of their account and an average 4-star rating from those reviews. Moreover, if someone clicked on your review link, the click was free! Okay, not everything was free, though … Clicks to the headline were still charged!

Back to the actual update. Most things have remained the same; clicks to your review are still free and you have to meet their requirements in order to use this feature. However, the requirements have been slightly updated.

The new qualifications require the seller to have at least 30 reviews over a period of 12 months, whilst simultaneously maintaining a 4-star average rating. 

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Looking at it from a sellers point of view, the biggest impact will obviously be felt by the merchants, who haven’t paid enough attention to receiving constant reviews. The main point for online shoppers was to avoid long queues and all the people they would have to deal with. However, when this extension was first introduced, all sellers were focused on getting their customers to review their site/ prices/ quality. Once the seller received 30 reviews the ratings would populate automatically. Hence, Google might have been thinking of urging all merchants to get those reviews rolling in, again. So get a hold of your creative advertisers out there and start planning an effective strategy.

How to get more reviews from your customers?

There are many possibilities to increase your review status, but the actual work will be to maintain your seller rating extension by regularly receiving reviews. Bad luck for those who have just been focusing on their 30 reviews. Hence, you might consider implementing reminder links on the final checkout page or you could offer coupons in return for a review – a nice incentive for customers.

Moreover, if you have seen your CTRs and/or conversions increasing after the introduction of the seller ratings, you may experience a sudden decrease due to reviews and ratings disappearing. This might lead to consumers being more insecure on clicking on the link without that extension, which basically leads to a loss of a prospective review.

What’s the point in getting those seller ratings back?

According to Google, merchants with seller ratings are able to receive an increase of 17% in click through rate. Ha! – more clicks always means more sales, shouldn’t it? This line only assumes if you effectively spend time on the conversion rate optimisation and analyse the checkout procedure.

Furthermore, didn’t it used to be good business practice, and a primary goal of a company, to receive continuous feedback? You will have to adapt to the market trends and current consumer tastes, in order to maximise sales. However, you’ll only get that data if you get those reviews.

Points to remember

1) There is a possible 17% CTR increase by implementing the Seller Rating Extensions

2) You need to make sure your customers are leaving reviews after they checkout

3) Keep an eye on the conversion rate optimisation to target that 17% increase!

In the end, you only need to ask your customers politely for reviews AND keep an average star rating of 4, which correlates to good customer service/experience. Then you will be able to receive that all important 17% increase in Click-Through Rate, as well!

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