A little more than a year ago, Google introduced the seller rating product extension for AdWords. The tool’s main function has been to serve as a way of telling the user how reliable and trusted the advertising merchant is – simply by displaying an average star rating based on at least 30 user ratings.
The seller stars are generally a useful tool for advertisers: they are free, add a visual dimension to ads and, most crucially, enhance the advertisers’ reputations and increase users’ trust in them. At the time of introduction, brands were excited about it: higher star rating generally meant a higher CTR and more sales.
The problem: how do you get the seller stars to show?
Recently, a client asked us why the Google seller stars weren’t showing across all their targeted keywords, even though they had met all the prerequisites necessary to use them (more than 30 unique four out of five user reviews, the relevant Google merchant centre setup and settings in Google AdWords). We researched this issue but found no information on it, so we investigated ourselves and tried to find out how to make sure the sellerstars show up across the client’s account.
The solution: By modifying the display URL subdomain
We found that by having the keyword in the subdomain of the ad, we could ‘hide’ the seller stars. For example, Official.Brandxyz.co.uk does not show the stars whilst Brandxyz.co.uk/Official does show the stars (see screengrabs below). Thus, removing the keyword from the subdomain will make sure the seller stars show up.
What else do I need to know about optimising for conversion?
Another of our clients raised the additional issue of outdated seller star ratings showing up in their ads. Users’ ratings often take a long time to be processed and, as a result, are often out of date by the time they appear – which reflects negatively on the brand’s reputation. Our client asked us to remove them, which we did.
This in turn led us to the interesting question as to whether to enable seller stars across campaigns which had already been optimised for CTR. These campaigns would have short tail keywords in the subdomain and, as a result, would not have the seller stars showing.
Because having a short tail keyword in the subdomain has been proven to be conducive to a higher CTR, an interesting conundrum arises: Would it be better to optimise a campaign for CTR or should brands try to get their seller stars (which also have a positive impact on CTR and conversion) to show?
The answer to this question will differ on a case-by-case basis. It’s very difficult to make a general assumption about this, so individual brands would do well to test both approaches against each other to see whether, for them, the benefits of having seller stars showing outweighs those of CTR optimisation.
For brands who encounter a high number of outdated seller star ratings, the solution is straightforward – put the keywords in the subdomain or opt out of the seller rating product extension altogether.