In the past we’ve seen updates like the inclusion of delivery and returns information, but Google’s latest partnership guidlines take a harder line, giving more power to the consumer, promoting full transparency from merchants, and preventing the collection of incentivised company reviews.
- Merchants can no longer offer financial incentives for company reviews – this means any kind of financial incentives, be it a discount code or gift card. However, you can still offer discount codes for product reviews.
- Company reviews can no longer be imported – your company listing must only show reviews collected directly through your current provider, and only these are eligible for submission to the Google feed. You can still import company reviews for widgets on your own site, and you can still import product reviews. Reviews imported before the 1st July 2020 are not affected.
- Merchants with a seller rating must show all reviews on a public page – your review profile page needs to be visible to search engines, and must include all reviews, both positive and negative. These must also be rated on either a 1–5 or 1–10 scale.
- Review submissions now have a timescale – after an invitation is sent, the recipient has up to 90 days to respond. If a customer wishes to edit their review after 90 days, they’re free to do so if this functionality is available through your provider. They’re also able to delete their review at any time.
Merchants cannot remove or moderate reviews – if a review is deemed unfair or inappropriate, it must be flagged and will only be removed if Google finds it in violation of its policies. The review in question will remain visible until the investigation is complete. This applies to all reviews, both solicited and unsolicited.
You can’t delete reviews from a previous provider – if you’ve switched your review collection platform, your previous provider must maintain a live profile page displaying reviews collected through them. These will continue to appear in your Google feed.
If you’re a fan of Joe Lycett’s “We’ve Got Your Back”, you’ve likely seen the episode where Trustpilot allowed him to top their rankings with a fake business, just by offering lollipops to anyone willing to leave a five star company review based on their experience of his farcical water purifier.
Thankfully, these latest updates from Google put a stop to this sort of unethical behaviour, not only protecting the consumer, but providing merchants with a level playing field for fair competition.
As a Google Licensed Partner, we’re able to keep you informed with everything you need to know about Google Seller Ratings, as well as giving you guidance on how to use customer reviews to full effect in line with Google regulations.