Quick update: Google has taken down its page defining 'review extensions' as it is no longer to be an ad extension. It has also updated its 'extensions' page with additional information. The 'review extensions' link in the article below now links there.
Late in 2017, Google made an announcement that review extensions were no longer going to be shown in ads starting January 2018. They also announced that by February 2018, the extensions would be deleted. The announcement caused a lot of buzz and, as it often does, speculation on the side of third-parties and publications.
SearchEngineJournal published an article covering Google’s announcement and made the following analysis:
“This could potentially be a blow to third-party review sites, as the reviews displayed in the extensions came from non-Google websites.”
We respectfully disagree. However, they aren’t the only ones who are concerned that the elimination of review extensions may significantly impact ad performance. So this article will clearly lay out what Google is doing, what Google isn’t doing, and how that may (or may not affect you).
Review extensions and Seller Ratings extensions - two different extensions
Before we move any further, it’s important to make a distinction between Review extensions and Seller Ratings extensions, commonly referred to as Google Seller Ratings, or GSR.
Review extensions are text-based reviews that can show up on ads. Users can add a review or paraphrase a review to leverage reputable social proof in ads. The text would have to be attributed and the user would need to follow certain guidelines and requirements to ensure the review is acceptable.
Here’s an example from Google (we've highlighted the review extension for clarity)
As you can see, users had the option to directly quote a review or paraphrase one, as long as they made sure the review was sourced properly.
Google seller ratings are also an ad extension but are different in a number of ways. For one, they are an automatic extension. Where users could add review extensions to their ads, Google Seller Ratings can appear automatically if a business has 150 unique reviews and a 3.5/5 rating or above.
Here is what Google Seller Ratings look like (again, we've highlighted what constitutes the seller extension)
As you can see, Google Seller Ratings provides an aggregate of reviews in the form of a rating. The extension shows up automatically - users only have to ensure they’re collecting reviews.
So what is Google doing with extensions again?
Google is doing away with review extensions. At the time of this writing, Google has not made any announcements that would affect Google Seller Ratings.
Will my ads continue to display star ratings?
Yes, but it’s important to note that with any ad extension, there may be other factors that might cause an ad not to display an ad extension. However, by meeting the minimum review requirements mentioned earlier in this article, you are much more likely to have your ads display Google Seller Ratings.
You can read more in our article - “Why won't my Google Seller Ratings show up? And 4 other GSR questions - Answered”
Do I have to do anything?
If you don’t have review extensions, no.
If you do have review extensions, you should download its performance data to see if there are any insights you can pick up as, by February 2018, they will be removed.
You might also want to look into whether Google Seller Ratings are right for you (they likely are).
Should I get Google Seller Ratings in place of a review extension?
You read our minds. We would recommend it.
You can see from the examples above that Google Seller Ratings are much more eye-catching and inform a viewer with an aggregate rating, rather than a single review that may or may not be reputable enough.
Google Seller Ratings also have the benefit of working automatically and, in many cases, leading to significant improvements in your CTR. Google estimates that this extension can increase CTR by 10% on average.
Google Seller Ratings also show up in Google Shopping results. You can find more information on Google Seller Ratings and Google Shopping here.
How do I get Google Seller Ratings again?
You just need 150 unique reviews and a rating of 3.5/5 stars or better. Google works with various third-party review companies to feed the ad extension. Trustpilot is proud to be one of those companies.
Fortunately, if you’re a Trustpilot customer, you likely already have Google Seller Ratings or are on your way to the coveted 150 number. Reach out to your customer success manager to see if there’s anything you can do to increase your number of reviews.
Anything else I should know?
Not really. We recommend not worrying about the phase-out of review extensions. Google Seller Ratings are much more powerful, flexible, and automatic.
If you have more questions about Google Seller Ratings, review extensions, or getting more reviews with Trustpilot, request a demo below.