Google has quietly been telling sellers that it is increasing from 30 to 150 the minimum number of reviews needed over the previous 12 months to qualify for displaying Google Seller Ratings extensions in AdWords. The GSR ranking, like many others, is shown as a range of one to five stars.
So why did Google make this change? The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Link Walls, Vice President of Product Management for ChannelAdvisor, said buyer expectations for ecommerce continue to rise. Whether it is around delivery time, costs, return policies or competitive pricing, consumers have high expectations and meeting those with great service is critical.
“Undoubtedly, Google recognizes this and wants to ensure that its seller ratings have enough volume behind them,” said Walls. “Raising the minimum number of seller ratings required accomplishes this, ultimately strengthening the system.”
Walls said the downside is that sellers without enough reviews, especially smaller ones, will no longer display the ranking, negatively impacting their performance on Google. Larger competitors who have them gain a competitive edge, as shoppers are always looking for rankings.
“Google is all about relevancy, and to the extent that a sellers’ performance doesn’t line up with their review score because the sample size was very small, the consumer experience suffers,” said Walls.
As a result, Walls said, consumers will put less stock in those search results. As Google moves towards a more transactional model with programs like Purchases on Google, the level of trust is critical. “Those with a sufficient review count may see fewer competing product listing ads with seller reviews which in turn could boost their performance,” he said.
Walls said seller reviews are an important element of a successful product listing ads strategy. Ultimately, retailers that provide a high-quality service that meets or exceeds customer expectations will benefit from higher performance on their digital advertising campaigns.
“This starts with getting quality data delivered to Google and extends all the way through the fulfillment and customer service process,” said Walls. “Challenges with programs like Google Seller Ratings often represent a symptom of a larger problem that is not only hurting visibility on Google but also impacting conversion rate and customer loyalty.”