Have you ever wondered how to get those stars on your Google Adwords ads? Want to easily increase conversions? Google has now made it a lot more simple to get the stars. Before you had to do all kinds of integration into your Google Base or Google merchant account, but not anymore. Today what Google does is license out to 31 independent 3rd party review companies. These companies are authorized by Google and the stars are normally the ones that you see in Adwords Ads. You’ll also see stars in Google Shopping PLAs. Not only will the star ratings show in your Google Adwords and now BingAds/Yahoo. BTW, BingAds controls Yahoo PPC. These seller rating stars will work for both service based companies and eCommerce websites.
FYI – You’ll hear these stars called Seller Ratings, Merchant Reviews, and maybe Star Ratings. Google refers to them as Seller Ratings. Seller Ratings reviews are for the company as a whole like, “Good Customer Services” & “Fast Shipping. Product Reviews are for the specific product like, “High Quality product” & “This works great”.
Finding Companies that are authorized review sites by Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Let’s face it, there are many review sites out there. Maybe you even use one of them, but those reviews will not show as star ratings in Google Adwords, BingAds/Yahoo, nor Google Shopping if it’s not licensed by Google. There are 31 companies that are licensed by Google. These companies are in different countries and the languages range from English to Japanese. You can scroll down to see the best ones in English or see a list of them here. ResellerRatings, TrustPilot,Bizrate, & Shopper Approved are just some of them.
In order to get these stars you will need to be on the Search or the Display Network. The searcher must be on Google in USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Japan, France, Netherlands, & Brazil. *Update 1/20/2017: Italy, Spain, Canada, India now added!* Your business must have at least 150 reviews all from within the past 12 months. [SIDE NOTE: 150 reviews is a lot for a mom & pop company. You can send a special URL to all your past customers to get a jump start to reach the 150 mark]. In addition, the reviews must have a rating of at least 3.5 stars or higher. You don’t need a Google merchant account anymore to get the stars. Google says these ratings are free, but in my experience you pretty much have to pay the 3rd party review site so in my book yes it is free to have the stars appear on your Google Adwords ads. It’s is not free overall because you will be paying a monthly subscription.
Learn more about the seller ratings criteria here.
As you start getting these reviews on the independent third-party websites, you will probably surpass the minimum of 150 reviews that Google requires. I noticed that when I hit the required amount of reviews, Google still had not indexed all those reviews. I had a client who had hit 84 reviews on Shopper Approved, but Google had only index maybe about 15. There is a lag time between the time you get the reviews and when Google indexes the reviews. I would say it’s about 3 to 4 weeks. And this has happened to me about 10 times already with 10 different clients. So don’t be getting frustrated like I did and start calling up your representative at Google AdWords asking, “Why am I not seeing my stars on my Google AdWords ads?” If you have set up your data feed from the independent third party review website, eventually Google will index the reviews. It’ll take time.
Want to see how many reviews Google has indexed for you? Change the overstock.com to your site. Do not put http or www in front. http://www.google.com/shopping/seller?q=overstock.com
Increase in conversions
You may be wondering why should you pay extra money a month to get the stars? Well the real answer is you may be making more money. This would be likely if you are in an industry where none of the competition is doing this. In addition, you should make an annotation in Google Analytics on the day you have started getting the stars on your ads and check to see if conversion rates have increased starting that day. Also, you can embed your reviews onto your website and build trustworthiness.
Choosing a review company
When you start talking to these companies, they are always going to say that their product is better than the competition. It all comes down to you getting the stars on your Adwords ads. Some will allow you to reach out to your past customers and ask them for reviews. Others will charge for that feature. For my clients it was imperative that we ask their past customers for reviews by sending them the link to the review survey. It gave my clients a jump start on the review campaigns.
I did some research on several third party review sites and found that some of them do contracts for 1 year. I would recommend going with one that is a monthly subscription with no contract.
For those of you who are on a smaller budget (like me), I would highly recommend looking into Shopper Approved versus the other review sites, because they only cost about $99 a month. UPDATE: Use our link below and it’s $79/mo (NO CONTRACTS). The other companies on this list cost between $400 and $599 per month. In addition, if someone leaves you a bad review on Shopper Approved, you can dispute it. I have done this a couple times where the customer left a one out of five star rating. It was an undeserved review so I disputed it. Now let me be upfront, you cannot fight all the negative reviews that will be coming through because the companies like Shopper Approved will not change the review for you if it is a legit negative review.
So to save you time here are the five companies I narrowed it down to. Hopefully this will save you time.
BEWARE – Read 1st before buying!
1) Do NOT pay for things you’ll never use. If you don’t have an ecommerce site, then you don’t need product reviews. But you’ll need Seller Reviews.
2) Always remember this. Google is the one who runs the Seller Review platform on Adwords. All these 3rd party review companies need to submit reviews in a pre-formatted XML feed into Adwords. Your goal is simple: GET STARS ON ADWORDS ADS. Don’t get distracted with all the upsells these companies will use to make themselves look different & get more of your money. They are nice features to have if you can afford it. All the companies have to use the same formatted XML feed as required by Google.
If you need help picking a company, contact me on live chat or through my contact page. I have worked with all these companies.
Starts at $79/mo
Shopper Approved (Update 9/28/2016) – Starts at $79/mo “if” you use our link! If not, then it’s $99/mo (but you have to call them since their site says $199/mo to start) and you have to pay upfront $1188 for the entire year. Save $20.00/mo + get 60 days FREE trial! Shopper Approved is based out of Utah and seem like very humble people. Their rates are on a sliding scale which normally start at $199/mo. The $79/mo plan is for small companies. If you have any problems, you can reach us through live chat. We will have remote access to your Shopper Approved dashboard. Once you sign up using the 60-day free trial, Cresta or Todd will contact you. They are great, humble people. SA is a private company with no outside investors.
Disclaimer: Shopper Approved asked us to partner with them. We have no problem recommending them because they are working for all of our clients. Use our partner link to get 60 days of free service instead of the typical 30 days.
Starts at $80/mo
Verified-Reviews (Added to this list on 10/21/2016) – 15 day free trial + no credit card needed! It’s normally $99/mo, but once you sign up for the free trial, CALL Pierre and ask him about the 20% discount. This is a month-to-month (no contract) subscription. Most people don’t wait for the 15 day free trial to end because it’s a great option. Talk to Pierre if you need a demo and tell him you heard about the 20% discount on Planet Marketing. The discount is not advertised on his site! Again, no credit card needed.
Starts at $299+/mo
Trust Pilot – (Update 6/1/2017: Trust Pilot’s pricing has changed many times in the past 2 years. The smallest package starts at $299/mo. Trust Pilot called me a long time ago and tried to sell me on their service. At that time, they didn’t show their prices on their site. Now they are displaying their smallest package which starts at $299/mo; HOWEVER, this has to be paid upfront for the whole year! $3588 USD upfront? OUCH! Anyway, one thing with Trust Pilot is you can price haggle them. Lesson: NEGOTIATE with TrustPilot and give them a low ball offer, especially since they require payment upfront for a whole year. TP is a great company if you have a medium -large sized business. They have their own following too, but it’s stronger in UK. TP is has outside investors.
If you want to try out TrustPilot for free and simply get reviews on your Adwords Ads, go to our TrustPilot partner link. You’re going to get a hard core salesman so be prepared! Once that trial is up, you’ll need to pay whatever you negotiate.
Starts at $400/mo
Yotpo – Yotpo (weird name 😛 ) is awesome and has a lot of features. These guys are here to stay. Take a careful look at their features and talk to the company before subscribing. The owner’s name is John-David Klausner and he’s a cool guy. Yotpo’s pricing starts at around $400. Guess what? If you go to Yotpo’s pricing page you’ll notice there’s NO PRICE! https://www.yotpo.com/pricing/
Pricing starts all over the place!
ResellerRatings – For the longest time ResellerRatings was the biggest one of all the review sites. Their pricing is based off an “algorithm” which means your pricing is subject to change each month. Something funny though, it has the worse reviews too! I haven’t heard too much about RR lately so you’ll need to talk to them or do some research.
We would recommend the above 5 companies in this order: 1) Shopper Approved 2) Verified Reviews 3) Yotpo 4) Trustpilot 5) ResellerRatings. In addition to seller ratings, all five companies offer product reviews (Shopper Approved is the best value for month-to-month).
SIDE NOTE: These types of reviews are COMPLETELY different than the rich snippet schema.org reviews that show on organic results (normally called product reviews). Here is our blog post of How to Get Product Reviews on Google Search.