Google has changed the number of customer review you need to qualify for its seller rating program. Until the change, you needed 30 unique reviews from different customers in the past year to qualify. That was enough to get your business a rating out of five stars on your AdWords ads.
However, now you’ll need to collect 150 positive reviews over any 12-moth period – a huge jump from the previous requirements. Google has been very quiet about this change, too. There hasn’t been any public announcement from the tech firm – instead, they’ve contact a small number of firms directly. It’s all been very hush-hush.
Have you lost your seller rating?
The Google Seller Rating program is responsible for creating ads that look like this:
If you’ve noticed your seller rating has been missing lately, you now know why. This won’t affect you if you’re picking up 150+ customer reviews from Google’s trusted sources, of course. But that gap between 30 and 150 includes a huge number of businesses – mostly of the smaller variety.
Here are the new requirements as stated by Google:
“In most cases, your business must have at least 150 unique reviews — each from the past 12 months.”
“Your composite rating generally must be at least 3.5 stars or higher.”
As we say, there’s no official statement from Google but our sources tell us the AdWords team wants to increase the quality of its seller rating program. And, to be fair, this will certainly do that. The fact is an ad with 150 positive reviews is always going to be more convincing than one with 30.
So, if you’re already above the 150+ review mark, this change will be a very good thing for you. The less businesses that qualify for Google Seller Rating, the more exclusive and valuable it becomes.
Another blow for small business advertisers
This won’t come as much comfort to the smaller businesses who worked hard to get above 30 reviews – or those who have been trying to qualify. The sudden jump to 150 will simply be too much for many businesses. And you have to expect the move will encourage a lot of businesses to desperately try and generate more reviews – especially those who have now lost their seller rating.
The problem is, customer reviews shouldn’t be monopolised by an ad feature, they should be earned through quality service.
What’s the big deal about Google Seller Rating?
If you never had seller rating to begin with, the only real change is its further out of reach now. This is frustrating if you’ve been chasing the previous 30-review benchmark but your ads should perform much the same.
If you’ve lost your seller rating since the change, then it’s click-through rates you need to keep an eye on. Don’t dive in and make any campaign changes yet; track your data to see how much of an impact losing GSR has on you. The last thing you want to do is start pulling apart perfectly healthy campaigns for no reason. So don’t assume losing your seller rating is bad news – find out for sure.
If your click-through rates drop to such an extent where you need to take action, then you’ll need to make it up in other areas. Here are some good places to start:
Expanded text ads: This new ad format is designed specifically to increase CTRs, so give them a try if you haven’t already.
Ad extensions: Test new ad extension combinations to increase clicks.
Sitelinks: This is one extension you definitely want to try out when increasing CTRs.
Display URLs: Check your display URLs follow best practice guidelines.
Ad copy: Still the biggest factor in convincing people to click.
Hopefully, by auditing your campaigns and ads, you’ll find enough room for improvement to get your CTRs back on track. This will be good for your AdWords account in general but it will also buy you some time to increase your number of reviews and get your seller rating back.
If you’re signed up to any of the review aggregators like Trustpilot, then get in touch with them. They’ll want to help you generate more reviews – for their own sake as much as yours. And, if you simply can’t make the new grade for Google Seller Rating – or recover your click-through rates elsewhere – you’ll have to take a new approach with your campaign type. Just make sure this is your last resort.
If you would like to talk more about it, please contact me whenever you would like at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my very best to help.
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