Google’s latest changes have created an environment that can spell disaster for online businesses that rely on Google ad words. It’s recently unveiled seller ratings which mean that advertisers using Google ad words will have a star rating and a link to a page showing customer feedback.
At first glance, this would appear to be fair and reasonable for both seller and potential buyer. But as the recent TripAdvisor debacle illustrated it is essential that the reviews are from bona fide customers.
No problem. After all, Google has a source of reviews and ratings from verified customers. But instead of using its own verified customer reviews from customers using Google checkout, it has instead started using review sites. In order to leave a review on these sites, you don’t have to have bought anything. This opens the whole situation up to abuse. One disgruntled customer can leave a host of bad reviews – in fact, anyone who doesn’t like you or your company can leave bad reviews.
According to Patrick Altoft, seller ratings have a direct impact on quality score. A few negative reviews, perhaps from a competitor and a seller’s cost per click increases. The seller is left to find a way of quickly getting positive reviews in order to control their marketing costs.
Google need to stop doing this and presumably as the feedback works through the system to show that this is not in either the buyer or the seller’s benefit, they will. In the meantime online sellers will need to put effort into ensuring that they have four or five star reviews on Google product search. As Altoft points out, don’t forget that masquerading as a customer and leaving a review of your own product or service is illegal.