Shop Bedding is a small ecommerce site selling specialty bedding and linens, including a comprehensive line of bed skirts and satin bedding. Our product lines compete with many large retailers, such as Macy’s, JCPenney, and Overstock.com. Yet we have managed to consistently outrank our competitors in AdWords for our set of keywords, without any costly management fees or pricey tools.
The recently introduced AdWords Ratings Extension has been very instrumental in boosting rankings, clickthrough rates, and Quality Scores for our campaigns.
The Ratings Extension works as follows: When an advertising site has 30 or more positive reviews on a third party rating site, that ad will show with an additional line displaying 4 or 5 yellow stars that indicate the average of the site’s rating score.
Here is a screenshot of our ad showing this extension:
When a user clicks on the stars, Google takes them to special page with a list of all our ratings (this does not count as a paid click).
At the time this feature was released, our site did not have many reviews. Google Checkout automatically solicits users of its payment service for a merchant review, but other payment providers such as PayPal do not.
The method we used to gather reviews in a short time did not require any complex programming to implement. I will describe in detail how we went about getting started.
Step 1: Open an account with a ratings’ syndicator: We opened a free merchant profile at Reseller Ratings. (NOTE: At that time there had been a free option, currently merchants must pay a monthly fee to join. Here is a list of other review sites that syndicate their reviews to Google.)
Step 2: Create a script to auto-solicit reviews: Our developer built a simple script that auto generates an email (using a cron job setup on the server) to all our customers approximately 10 days after their order.
Here is a copy of the text we used in the email:
Thank you for your recent purchase. In order to help spread the word about our company, please take a moment to write a review about your Shop Bedding experience:
Step 3: Monitor the reviews and ensure they are mostly positive. Usually customers will be happy to give you a positive rating. However, there are always those few that are upset about something. Take the time to communicate with those and offer them extra care in exchange for their removal of their negative review. Our experience has been that most of the time customers will agree to remove their negative feedback if you are willing to work with them to resolve their complaint. Even in the event that our site would receive too many negative reviews, we always have the option of turning off the ratings extension.
Within a few weeks of implementing these reviews, we had gathered up 70+ positive reviews. It took but only a few days for Google to index these reviews and add the review extension to our ads, boosting our CTR by at least 20% on the groups that showed the ratings extension.
It is surprising, but many of our large competitors don’t have ratings extensions in their ads. By staying ahead of the constant changes Google makes to the Adwords program, a small business can keep ahead of their larger competitors by being swifter to capitalize on opportunities that present themselves.
Aaron Parnes is the in house marketing specialist for Shop Bedding. He also manages the online marketing firm Razor Clicks, working with small business websites to develop effective returns from their online operations. Aaron lives in New York City with his wife Nechama and 5 children. Two of their children were born deaf and use cochlear implants – as a service to other families with hearing impaired children they operate the Hearing Pocket site.
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