If you’ve done any e-commerce searching in the last year or so, chances are you’ve come across an AdWords ad with some visible star ratings. Maybe a little something like this:
The official nomenclature for these stars are the “AdWords Seller Ratings Extension.” Lots of bloggers have written about the positive effect that the seller ratings extension has on click-through rate and conversion (and it’s something I’ll be covering in my Austin Internet Marketing Meetup presentation later this week). There’s no doubt that the effect is significantly positive, so that makes lots of advertisers really want to get this extension activated. Unfortunately, the process is really complicated and confusing. In this post, I’ll break down some simple strategies you can use to get the seller ratings activated for your AdWords account.
The main factor why seller ratings are so darn complicated is that you can’t opt in or out of them. There’s no simple setting to switch seller ratings from “off” to “on.” In order to activate the extension, you have to meet the following qualifications:
- Your AdWords campaign must be opted in to Google search.
- Your ads must be serving on one of the following Google properties: Google.com, Google.co.uk, Google.de, Google.fr, or Google.nl.
- Your business must provide paid goods or services, or enables the buying or selling of products or services by way of a marketplace.
- Your business must have at least 30 unique reviews, each from the past 12 months, and a composite rating of four stars or higher on Google Shopping.
You don’t have to have a data feed enabled in Google Merchant Center (or Product Listing Ads enabled), but it certainly helps.
Most of these criteria are easy to meet, except for the review and star rating threshold. And what makes matters worse is that lots of advertisers meet that threshold, but for some reason Google won’t find those reviews on the internet. It can be really frustrating to have 1000 reviews on the web, only to find that Google Shopping only knows about ten of them. Here are a few tricks I learned to speed up the review-finding process.
First off, the easiest way to get reviews is to enable Google Checkout. In this system, once a user completes a transaction using Google Checkout, they are immediately prompted to submit a review (and yes, I know how weird that is to review a product before you’ve even received it). This review is immediately passed to the Google Shopping system, which then passes the review on to AdWords. If you’re able to add this payment option to your shopping cart (and actually get people to use it), then you might be able to reach your seller ratings review threshold after a few days of regular sales.
If totally revamping your checkout process isn’t your thing, you have other options. First off, you’ll need to find the sites where Google Shopping is finding reviews. To do this, go to Google Shopping and search for a product that you sell. Find a competitor of yours that already has some reviews. Then, click on the “reviews” link in their listing:
On the next page, look on the right sidebar to see a list of the review sources:
These are the sites you’ll want to direct your customers to when they want to write a review.
Now that you know where to put the reviews, you’ll need to obtain a few of them. You can usually make some good progress just by asking. Reach out to your hardcore fans on social media and ask them nicely. Talk to your customers in person. If that doesn’t work, send out an email to your customer list with a nice discount or offer, and casually mention “by the way, if you could give us a review on one of these sites it would be SUPER COOL.” Be sure to include links directly to your company’s page on the review sites so your customers don’t have to look around for where they need to place the review.
Once you’ve set this in motion, it can take a couple weeks for the reviews to be indexed by Google. In my experience, this can take anywhere between 60 and 90 days. But once you reach that threshold, the seller ratings extensions should automatically appear. Then, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of increased CTR and conversion rate that are associated with having a well-reviewed site.