Reviews have become one of the most important components of optimization, especially for businesses that primarily interact with their customers online. As I’ve said before, the data shows the importance of reviews with the majority (88%) of consumers trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, 40% of buyers forming an opinion after reading just 1-3 reviews, and 72% of buyers taking action only after reading a positive review.
But as businesses became more aware of the importance and efficacy of reviews in recent years, they began looking for ways to shortcut and obtain more of them, not always in the most honest ways. Fake reviews have become more and more prevalent, and some studies even claim that up to 15% of all online reviews are fake. This is a problem because user-generated content (UGC), like reviews, is an enormous part of what motivates user action and contributes to overall user experience. In light of the fraudulence infecting online reviews (Yelp, Amazon, Google, etc.), many platforms began taking actions to prevent fake reviews and ensure honest and trustworthy reviews for users.
Reviews on Google
In the past, Google has used its Trusted Stores program, which is essentially just “Google Reviews.” It allows pretty much anyone to leave a review on a business’s Google listing, regardless of whether or not they’re a real customer. But with shady business practices and fake reviews becoming more of a problem, Google has retired its Trusted Stores review program and replaced it with Verified Customer Reviews.
What’s new about Verified Customer Reviews?
Rather than just anyone being able to leave a review, Customer Reviews are verified as being written by customers who have made a purchase from a business’s website. This also means that Customer Reviews are exclusive to businesses that have an online store as opposed to just having a business listing on Google.
Some other new features to this type of review include customizable options that businesses can use, include how their review badge looks to users and where seller ratings from these reviews appear through AdWords and Google Shopping.
How can I participate in Google’s Verified Customer Reviews?
Using this new review feature is totally free and easy to implement. Per Google’s blog post about Customer Reviews, here’s how to implement it:
- Sign in to yourMerchant Center account (or sign up if you do not have an account).
2) Select “Merchant Center programs” from the dropdown in the upper right-hand corner.
3) Click “Get Started” in the Google Customer Reviews card and accept the Program Agreement.
4) Add the survey opt-in code to your website.
5) [Optional] Add the badge code to your site wherever you want. This will make the badge appear on your site, allowing you to display your seller rating and show customers that you’re integrated with Google Customer Reviews.
A quick word about best practices for customer reviews…
If you haven’t been already, now is a good time to make reviews part of your online marketing and optimization efforts. UGC is one of the easiest and most effective ways to drive original and unique content for your website and more likely than not, your audience wants to see honest reviews from previous customers. You can get ideas about different ways to get reviews here and learn about the importance of having reviews across multiple platforms here.