A few weeks ago, we discussed the Helpful Content update. Today, we’d like to take a closer look at Google’s other recent update that follows the same route. And believe us; the Product Reviews update should be vital to every e-commerce business owner.
In early April 2021, Google announced an update that affects almost every e-commerce and SaaS business. The goal is always the same – Google wants to promote “the most useful and helpful information possible”. In the online trade world, this means product reviews that go beyond the basic data provided by the manufacturer. Yes, Google wants to reward in-depth product reviews containing useful and unique information.
What does it mean for you as an online store owner?
In-Depth Product Reviews – Meaning What?
Google knows that product reviews saying “all good” aren’t very useful to other online shoppers. They convey no value (maybe besides the 5-star rating that usually goes with them) and don’t seem very trustworthy or authentic, for that matter. So, Google tells all of us that we need to do a little more and put some effort into writing product reviews.
A review that’s perfect from Google’s perspective should:
- Express expert knowledge about the product (showing that the reviewer knows what the product is like in real life, how it works and how it’s different from its competitors)
- Provide quantitative measurements (e.g., separate ratings for different aspects of the product)
- Contain pros and cons
- Explain how the product stacks up against the key decision-making factors
Shortly put, the best reviews are based on real-life experiences with the item and are exhaustive regarding its quality and features. How can you put this advice to work? The answer is two-fold, and it refers to the content that you publish as an online store owner and to reviews posted by your customers (so-called UGC – user-generated content).
Let’s start with the first aspect.
Reviews Published by the Store
You, as an online store owner, are more than welcome to guide your shoppers through different products in your offer. You can publish product reviews and comparisons, e.g., on your blog or through guest posts on other websites, blogs and social media profiles.
Even Google experts suggest you to ask an expert staff member in your company to publish such reviews and product guides. When you do, always try to evaluate the product from the perspective of its intended buyer. It is always a good idea to enrich your reviews with images, videos and other elements showcasing your real experience with the given item. There is also nothing wrong with adding links to other useful resources that your users might find beneficial.
Every time you write a product review, try to be specific. Don’t be afraid to mention the given item’s drawbacks – there are no perfect products, and your customers are aware of that. Lastly, don’t just say it’s the best product in your offer. Every statement should be supported with some evidence or at least a solid explanation.
If you work with external authors – bloggers, influencers and other online creators – ask them to pay attention to suggestions provided by Google in the Product Reviews update. The fact of the matter is they should do so either way.
In general, user-generated content can be extremely helpful concerning your store’s marketing, especially SEO. Apart from the Product Reviews update, exhaustive reviews are an excellent source of long-tail key phrases (these can give your position on Google a real boost!) and, of course, unique, authentic content. It is in your best interest to get as much UGC as you can, especially given that nearly 80% of customers say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
Most likely, you’re wondering how you can modify customer reviews. After all, if they want to write “all good”, that’s their right, isn’t it? It doesn’t mean, though, that you are helpless against thin and vague reviews. There are at least four strategies you can utilize.
How to Get More UGC
ENCOURAGE CUSTOMERS TO WRITE BETTER REVIEWS
For starters, you have to find a place where user reviews can be displayed on your website. Start with the review box – it should be in every product tab. Encourage users to write in-depth reviews by adding something like this: “This box is just for you! Here, you can tell others about your experience with this product. We appreciate your contribution!“. Adding a short request like this can make some of your customers feel compelled to write at least three or four sentences.
Secondly, you ought to showcase these reviews not just on product tabs but also on the main page. Select the best reviews and put them there – it will show other customers what kind of input you’re after.
You can even consider conducting contests for the best product review and think of an attractive reward for the author.
OFFER SOMETHING IN RETURN
The majority of your customers won’t be interested in publishing deepened reviews, as people are not eager to exert themselves. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to offer them some incentive in return. It shouldn’t be anything big, but rather symbolic, for instance, a one-time free delivery or a small discount for the next purchase.
REMIND YOUR CUSTOMERS ABOUT REVIEWS
Even if someone was willing to place a review on your website, they could simply forget about it. That’s why online stores send reminders to customers asking them to share their opinion about the product and the purchasing process. You can do that as well, e.g., through newsletters, push notifications and social media.
CREATE AN EXTENSIVE PRODUCT REVIEW BOX
Finally, you can put something more on your website than just one box with a space to share an opinion. Here, Airbnb is a good example. They enable users to rate six different aspects of the place they visited:
You can think of something similar and add additional boxes in the product review section along with star reviews. Consider adding the following elements:
- What’s important to know about this product
- What I like about it
- What I don’t like about it
Star reviews should refer to measurable elements like price, quality, functionality, intuitiveness, reliability, etc., depending on what kind of products you have in your inventory.
This way, if at least some customers fill in all three boxes with just one sentence, you get a three-sentence review, and even that is way better than just “all good”!
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