Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Google Search will Differentiate Retailers by – Consumer Reviews!



Beware: Google announced its debut as Online Consumer Reviews Aggregator.
Retailers and merchants should now be aware that consumers’ reviews will from now on be integrated into Google Product Search, which makes it both attractive and tricky.

It’s already a fact that two of the most utilized tools for consumers on the Web are search and consumer-generated product reviews. It proves that we no longer care for the actual search results only, but also consumers’ reviews related to the products we’re enquiring about. We tend to “listen” to what other online users say about the products we’re searching for. Why? Obviously, because that’s a convenient, free-of-charge and usually unbiased “back-up”.

The most curious is that we’re more likely to trust positive sentiment in order to make purchase decisions.

Thus, Google has now decided to deliver both the actual search results with a “bonus” on top of it: online consumer reviews, related to your product search queries. Firstly: it’s a premier initiative and will soon be fully implemented.

Now - what is it & how it works?

Firstly - that’s how it looks like:



As you can see, beneath the actual ad listings for a randomly picked “appliances” term (within the Sponsored Links field) Google suggests a few merchants who acquire now “star ratings”. You may also see the number of reviews next to each merchant domain: (426 ratings for AppliancesOnline and 223 for John Lewis).

As mentioned on Google’s Official Blog, this advertising feature is called “the Seller Rating Extension” and it aims at “making it easier for online users to identify highly-rated merchants when they are searching on Google.com”. Basically, it does it by attaching the merchant star rating to Google Product Search.

To be able to attach the star ratings, Google has partnered with Bazaarvoice - a technology provider in hosted social commerce applications, which in turn connects online users with ratings from third-party seller rating websites (such as : Kelkoo, ReviewCentre.com, Dooyoo.co.uk,etc)

It’s really important to note that the Seller Ratings will always provide review ratings for the advertiser, not the product!.

So while searching for the term “notebooks” for example, you won’t get ratings related to the quality of the notebooks themselves, but more an appreciation of the merchant or the retailer, who should be eligible to be automatically “assigned” the seller reviews:



The feature is now running for online merchants only
, triggering only English/google.com. This means that any advertiser running on this domain may have a review showing against their ad.
Also, the names used in these ratings are the same as the advertiser’s Display URL.

Requirements:

• Google Products will only show a review if there are more than 30 unique reviews and if the advertiser has 4 or more stars!
• AdWords links these Seller Ratings using the domain of the Visible URL on the advertiser’s ad;
• Important: existing plusboxes or sitelinks on the ad should be removed, so that it becomes “attractive” for seller rating extensions.
• Ad quality doesn’t trigger the ratings - the number of unique reviews and the number of stars – does!

It’s an opt-in feature, updated automatically as soon as the merchant qualifies, but what happens if the company wants to opt-out?

• The retailer can add their domain to Google blacklist using this form:
this form: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/ratingsoptout

• Blacklisting turnaround is usually within 48 hours.
Improving the Reviews:

In order to improve the online consumer reviews, a focus on providing excellent customer service within the online space is essential.

This can be done by ensuring that you:

• Read reviews entered by your customers – identify previously flagged up problems/complaints and post any solutions provided (to show receptivity and action: this increases consumers’ trust)
• Make sure that review sites display the correct name and home page URL. If you have a Merchant Center account, you should additionally ensure that the name and URL are consistent here too.

Finally, even though the feature sounds exciting and curious, also as an advantage to highly ranked merchants, in order to be able to build more trust among their consumers, it still leaves 2 major questions behind:
- How accurate enough will the selection process be for the rating sources that Google will rely on? (Bazaarvoice confirms to have partnered with over 800 consumer rating and review sites)
- Also, since the ratings refer to the brand itself and not the product you’ve searched for (brands might have a plethora of products/services) how relevant will the ratings be to the individual product searches? Do we want to know how reputable the merchant is or how reliable his certain products are?
So far so good, you’re now able to dig into social e-commerce and build on your brand’s quality ratings (except for your product quality ratings..).

Good luck,
Yours,
@Digilunch
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4 comments:

Icesoft said...

I love the idea... couple of comments however:

- Will Google implement mechanisms against rogue raters? (e.g. people that give a bad rating just for fun/business)
- I don't know how much value will it give if it doesn't speak about the product per se... we'll need to wait and see.

Thanks for the post.

Nadya on July 14, 2010 at 5:05 PM said...

Thank you, Icesoft!

Agree, Google needs to address these questions since its primary focus is the relevancy of the information delivered. So, yep, will wait and see:)

Cheers and glad you've come by!!

Nadya

CPC_Andrew on July 26, 2010 at 6:21 PM said...

Nadya great post and Icesoft great comment. Exactly what I was thinking. How do rogue reviewers impact this space?

I like the blacklisting option and the fact that only positive reviews will be shown. Just like on comparison shopping engines reviews look good to consumers and increase conversions. I'm interested to see if merchants that list their reviews actually see a change in their Google Product Search performance.

Nadya on July 29, 2010 at 6:19 PM said...

Good point, Andrew! Thanks for your comment - would be great to find out the impact of reviews on performance itself,

Cheers,
Nadya

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