Customer reviews are one of the biggest driving point of sales. Unfortunately, PPC ads don’t have room for multiple customer reviews.
Enter the stars. The benefit of having these stars on an ad is obvious – they demonstrate the quality of the company and encourage users to pick one ad over the other.
But how do you get these stars in your ads?
There are two main methods: seller ratings and location extensions.
Despite the name, you do not have to be an ecommerce website to have seller ratings. These ratings are generated by Google based on reviews from certain eligible sources. These include Google programs like Google Trusted Stores and Google Consumer Surveys, and also independent review sources. A list of these sources can be found here.
Google automatically filters these reviews for those they believe are untrustworthy and re-scales ratings to fit their 5 star system. They will only show ratings when a site has 30 reviews within the past 12 months with an average of at least 3.5 stars.
But how do you get reviews on one of these independent review sites? Simply put, you have to pay. After you reach an agreement with a site, they will gather reviews from your customers. Be warned, this is not cheap.
Planet Marketing has a good article that goes into more detail about working with these review sites. Also, in their experience, it will be about 3-4 weeks after you have enough reviews to actually start showing ratings in ads. This is because star ratings are entirely automated by Google. They detect the reviews themselves, there are no settings in AdWords that can be changed to cause the ratings to show.
The other method to show star ratings is through location extensions, which can display a business address verified by Google alongside your ad. This feature was added and announce last year to very little fanfare given the benefit and ease of use. Basically, if you have reviews on your Google+/Google My Business and that account is linked to your AdWords, star ratings can show when you add location extensions.
Similar to seller ratings, you need an average rating of 3.5 stars, but you only need 5 reviews. Also like seller ratings, these stars are automated and you can’t control when they show with your location extension.
The big limitation for this method is that since location extensions only show up to a certain amount away from the location (less than 50 mi), a national company won’t show stars in other parts of the country. But, if you’re a local company like most of our clients, this format is good enough for your purposes.
Is It Worth It for Your PPC Campaign?
Let’s talk about this briefly because the answer is yes. If you already have the reviews necessary, just link your Google My Business to AdWords, add location extensions (instructions here) and you’re good to go. There’s no additional hard cost for this, and also location extensions are beneficial for improving your ad performance, so there’s almost no reason to not be using them.
The caveats to that are location extensions are automatically eligible to show up to 50 mi away, if you don’t want to show your address that far away, it will require some additional setup and settings changes. And also, star ratings do not show every time a location extension shows, so it is difficult to evaluate their performance.
Seller ratings, however, are listed as a separate extension. This way you can actually evaluate their performance relative to ads without the rating. To that end, here is an analysis I did for a client who was paying for an independent review site:
I used the Top vs. Other segmentation to evaluate the performance of seller ratings in getting users to click when the ad was located above the search results vs. anywhere else on the page. From this data, we see that in the top ad positions, more often ads showed without stars than with and even though the CTR for seller ratings was slightly better, so was the CPC. In the other ad positions, seller ratings showed up much more often (likely due to the fact that most other extensions don’t show in these smaller ad spaces) and performed significantly better. But, since they were paying for the review service, the client expected overall performance to be much better.
Now granted, the results could be different for other industries and markets, and there are other benefits to these review sites besides these star ratings. But, given how it seems Google is not prioritizing star ratings in top ad positions, I would think long and hard about making this investment if the primary goal is improving AdWords performance.
If you have any questions about seller ratings, location extensions, or anything else AdWords related, please fill out a contact form, and we will be happy to answer your questions or take a look at your account!
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