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How are your Google Reviews looking?

    In the constantly evolving digital landscape, Google continues to close down old technology and replace it with new apps and innovations. With only a few notable exceptions, Google continues to place its stamp on the way the web works and be the primary trendsetter for web-based innovation.

    If you have a website, here are two changes you should know about.

    Google Reviews have been an important part of doing business for many years. Much of business can live or die based on those little yellow stars in the search engine sidebar.

    And they are about to become even more important to your bottom line:

    1.    Google Trusted Stores is being retired and replaced by Google Customer Reviews

    2.    Google Site Search, an enterprise offering from Google that allows you to have a Google-powered search on your site, is being shuttered 01/04/17 and retired 01/04/18.

    Out with Google Trusted Stores, in with Google Customer Reviews

    The Google Trusted Stores program was a free service to both e-commerce operators and online consumers.

    Online retailers that lived up to Google’s customer service and shipping standards could proudly display the Google Trusted Store badge on their website. The badge was a sign of trustworthiness and served to instil confidence for consumers making purchase decisions.

    Moreover, by shopping at a Google Trusted Store, online buyers could take advantage of Google’s free purchase protection by setting up a Google Trusted Stores customer account. If you had an issue with a “Google Trusted” merchant and were not able to resolve it directly with them, Google would intercede on your behalf at no cost.

    The decision to shut down the Google Trusted Stores network in favour of Google Customer Reviews is a telling sign of the times. It has caught our attention because it taps into the “social” power of the online community.

    It’s a longstanding fact that word-of-mouth referrals are powerful business drivers. With online review aggregators such as Google Customer Reviews or Facebook, allowing your customers to rate your service creates the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth referrals. Building a bank of positive reviews reinforces your trustworthiness as an online retailer and affords you valuable social proof.

    Consumer-centric E-commerce

    In shutting down Google Trusted Stores, Google is embracing the consumer-centric model of the market. Online retailers will be able to display a badge on their website showing their seller rating score from 1-5 stars. A high score means high trust and online shoppers will gravitate towards sellers with high trust rankings.

    This consumer-centric social proof model is the basis of eBay’s seller rating system – the highly successful method by which eBay’s community keeps itself accountable. For example, an eBay seller with rankings in the high 90s (out of 100) lets potential customers know they can be trusted. One safeguard of the eBay system is sales volume, whereby having a good number of sales in your history affords you a more robust seller rating.

    Of course, ratings such as eBay’s can be manipulated (e.g. struggling merchants may shut down poor-performing accounts and open new ones). So, Google has placed checks and balances in the system, such as a minimum number of reviews before you receive your score (in star ratings) to ensure one or two malicious reviews don’t skew the results.

    To participate in the program, you will give permission for Google to send a feedback survey to your customers after they have made a purchase. Google’s algorithm works out the results and your ranking changes according to your ongoing performance. Leaving you to focus on providing good customer service while the good ratings pour in!

    Australia is not yet on the rollout list, but it won’t be far away. As with many of Google’s recent technologies and innovations, the Google Customer Reviews system lets you focus on doing good business while Google worries about the technical details. So getting ready for the new system is simple – provide the best customer service you possibly can, and let your social proof speak for itself.

    Get ahead of the game

    As a digital agency, we make it our business to get in front of new technology so you can benefit from it.

    If you’d like to know more about the new Google Customer Reviews system, or if you need help turning your old e-commerce site into a conversion powerhouse, contact us today.

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