If you are not already using review extensions then you are missing out on a great opportunity to increase your click-through rate and conversion rate of your adverts. 90% of customers have stated that online reviews have effected their buying decision and review extensions give you the ability to gain credibility by displaying independent reviews alongside your adverts.
The vast majority of users are not currently using review extensions so they are a great way to make your adverts stand out. Google recently anounced that they have seen a 10% increase in click-through rates when advertisers have implemented review extensions.
They have been availible to beta adwords users since june 2013 and were made available to all adwords users in october 2013, including Google grant accounts.
Seller ratings currently only appear on the search network, however you can still use seller ratings and product ratings to show reviews alongside your product listing adverts. They allow you to disaplay reviews from reputable third party website alongside your adverts, which I will talk more about later on in this article.
In this indepth guide I will be showing you everything you need to know to create review extensions for your campaigns, plus lots more. If your struggling to get your review extensions approved then I have written a section on this as I know this is a common problem and I know other agencies have reported issues getting review extensions approved. There are also four case studies from several different agencies which explore the impact of review extensions on click through rate and conversion rate in several different industries.
Review extension examples
There are two types of review extensions, exact quotes and parahphrased quotes. Either of which can be used provided that you link to the source of the quote. Here are a couple of exact quote review extension examples.
Do Review extensions work?
Our first case study comes from the PPC experts over at white.net. When they compared the overall performance of their accounts with review extensions and without they found the following changes
- When review extension were shown their click-through rate from 3.80% to 8.39% on average which is an increase of 120% (sort of, read more about this below)
- Their average cost per click decreased from $1.22 down to $1.16
- Average ad position increased from 4.1 to 2.4
- Cost per conversion decreased from $67.89 down to $65.67 while maintining a stead conversion rate.
Here the results with regards to CTR were pretty fantastic however this study did not take into account the natural increase in click through rate which will be seen from the difference in ad position from 4.1 to 2.4.
With an average postion of 4.1 their click through rate of 3.80% is almost double the excpected CTR for Adwords. However double the expected click through rate for position 2.4 is around 6.5%. So my estimated increase in click through rate which takes into account the difference in position would actually be from 6.5% to 8.39% which is an increase of 28.9%.
PPC Hero did quite a detailed study into the effects of using review extensions on the effects of people clicking on sitelink extensions, clicking on the click to call fucntion or clicking on the headline of their adverts while their review extensions were being displayed.
The account that they ran their test on was a lead generation client in the health and hospitality sector and they were using a A+BBB review for their review extension.
- Decrease in click-through rate of sitelinks of 44.47%
- Increase in click-through rate of headline by 1%
- Increase in click-through rate of click to call function of 41.99%
When it came to the effects of dispalying review extensions on the click through rate of sitelinks that were also being displayed alongside of their adverts they saw their click throguh rate for their sitelinks decrease from 0.17% down to 0.09%. which was a decrease of 44.47%.
When they analysed the effects of dispalying review extensions on the number of people who clicked on the headline of their adverts they noticed that their was very little change in click through rate. There was acutally only a 1% increase in click through rate.
Finally when they looked at the effects of dispalying review extensions on the amount of people who clicked on their click to call extensions they noticed that their click-through rate increased from 0.28% to 0.40% which was an increase of 41.9%
This was quite a true test due to the fact that they compared that data from when they did not have review extensions enabled to data when they did. Presumably as it was only a test of 1000 impressions which may only take a few hours to generate then very few other changes were made to the account which would effect click-through rate.
There however limitations to this study in the way that their ad extension had only gathered 1000 impressions so that it was quite a small amount of data to run a test on.
PPC Hero also ran a second study that looked into the effectivness of review extensions at their overall click-through rate and conversion rate. They found that their average increase in click through rate for top page impressions was 11% and their most compelling review extension saw an increase in click-through rate of 26%.
They also found that when they displayed review extensions that they consistantally saw impreovements in conversion rate. In there most extreme example they saw in increase in conversion rate of 27% for a non branded campaign
This study should prove to be an accurate represtenation of the actual impreovement that review extensions actually provide as I presume that is was gathered by comparing the overall click throguh rate and conversion rate from the period before review extensions were added and the same period after they were added.
receptional ran a study using three campaigns over a 4-5 week period, all of their campaigns were for non commerce clients however they did not mention which industries their clients were in. Overall they saw an increase in click-through rate of 66% when review extensions were displayed
- Increase in click-through rate of 58.92% from 3.41 to 5.42%
- Decrease in conversion rate of -17.93% from 2.62% down to 2.15%
- Increase in click throguh rate of 78.08% from 2.92% to 5.20%
- Decrease in conversion rate of -56.33% from 3.87% down to 1.69%
- Increase in click-through rate of 59.25% from 4.00% to 6.37%
- Increase in conversion rate of 71.92% from 3.42% to 5.88%
Here once again they have used the same method for the test that white.net were using which as I outlined above has its limitations. Here there is no mention of the movement in ad position which may have an effect on click-through rate, there is also the issue that other ad extensions will have an effect on the click through rate as well as the review extensions, which will be included within the 66% increase in click-through rate.
The conversion rate results in this case were not as expected as generally by adding independent reviews you add trust and thefore generally see an increase in conversion rate. Out of two of the three tests there was a decrease in conversion rate when the review extensions were shown.
The study into the performance of review extensions was conducted by Netmedia Planet. They conducted a study with two clients. One was a retail fashion client and the other was a luxury airline.
With the retail faishion client they used a review that reflected positivily on a specifc range of coats called ”trophy jackets” Netmedia planet reported a increase in click through rate of 157% within the first two weeks of their campaigns going live.
They then added the same review extension to all campaigns containing the keywords words ”jackets” or ”coats” and saw an increase in click-through rates of 95%.
For their luxuy airline client they used a review that called them the best airline in asia. They found that in some locations, namly that of wales that when their adverts showed with the review extension they saw an increase in click-through rate of 7% however when their adverts showed in London they found that their click-through rate decreased by 5%.
With their first study it would appear that they have fallen into the trap of looking at the difference in campaign data and that of the data when their review extensions were shown, simially to what white.net did. So the increase in click-through rate of 157% will also include the effect of other extensions that were also displayed alongside and a change in click through rate, however this study shows the affects of review extensions will vary depending on the market.
Adwords review extension guidelines
To view Googles full guidelines on creating review extensions you can click here, this also includes several examples of what Google sees as acceptable and what is not. For your convenience I have created a parahphrased version of google review extension guidelines:
Reviews must be accurate and up to date
- Reviews must not be older than 12 months old and must be visbible within the text of the source page. The review must match the message and tone of the source page.
- Reviews which mention periodic awards must state the time period of the award
- Ellipses (…) should be used to indicate missing words or phrases within reviews.
Reviews must come from a reputable third party source
You must ensure that your review has come from a reputable thrid party website and that you have permision to use the review if necessary. You may not use the following types of review:
- Republished reviews. (you must link to original source of the review)
- Individual customer reviews or testemonials, or agregate rankings from user review sites
- press releases, paid endorsements, reviews on website that are not accesable to the public or that contain content which is not family safe and finally reviews which require extra clicks to access such as PDF downloads or videos.
Reviews must be unique and substantive
Reviews must not include duplicate content that is already in your adverts and must give your potential customers insight into what is is like to use your business or services. Google prohibits the following types of reviews
- Reviews of particualr stores, franchises or branches
The review text must not repeat the source’s name or what has already been stated within the advert
- Reviews that are just descriptions of your product or services
How to create Adwords review extensions
If you don’t already have review extensions setup within your Adwords account here is a step by step guide which will show you how to create your first review extension.
Step 1) Navigate to your ad extensions tab
Step 2) Click on the view dropdown menu and then select review extensions
Step 3) Slect at what level you would like to add your review extension. They can be added at either account level, campaign level or ad group level and then Click + Extension. Generally as Googles advertising policies require that the reviews should be about your business or service as a whole and not about individual branches or products you will be adding them at account level most of the time.
You now have two options, you either enter an exact quote or a parahphrased one. At this point you should note that the maximum review extensions character length is 67 characters including the name of the source of the quote.
Enter the quote or a parahphrased quote into the text field and then the name of the the reviewer into the source field. Finally you should enter the URL of the web page where the quote can be found into the source URL field.
If you are using a parahphrased quote, this must be the same express meaning expressed in different words to achieve greater clarity. When using paraphrased quotes ensure you check the adwords review extensions guidelines section of this article to ensure that it complies with Googles policies or it is likely to get disapproved.
You don’t always have to use reviews as such, other examples that have been accepted by Google are awards, these are a great for creating review extensions. So if you have received an award and it has been published on a website then take advantage of this and use it for your review extensions.
For larger companies that are included in the Inc 5000 and Inc 500 then another review extension that has been accepted by google is simply stating ”Inc 5000 company” and then linking to your INC.com profile
For those of you that are concerned about dispalying a link alongside your advert to another website where the review can be found need not worry as clicks on these links are extreamly rare and even if somebody does click on your review extension to view the source, these clicks are free
Step 6) Once you are happy with your setting click save
Step 7) Your extension should now appear in the selected reviews column, now click save again.
Review extensions disapproved?
One of the biggest problems that advertisers have is getting their review extensions approved by Google because it breaks one of their advertsing policy, which I have outlined earlier in this article. The main reason that advertisers generally get their review extensions disapproved is due to the review site not being seen as reputable by Google.
PPC Hero . Genreally found that BBB (Better Business Beauro) were the easiest types of review extension to get approved, however they still found out that ocasionally some came back disapproved. They generally found this work well for several industires including travel and retail.
PPC Hero also provided a list of sources that they found have worked plus some others that we have added to give you an idea of the sort of websites that would statisfy googles requirements for a reputable thrid party review website.
- Google trusted stores: If you are not already using this then click here to find out more about signing up to Google truststed stores (LINK -http://www.ppchero.com/review-extensions-adwords-mythical-monster/)
- Gartner: This is a large company that focuses on technology research
- University Business: Large reputable magazine that shares reviews and news in higher education sector.
- Golf Now: Independent reputable company that reviews golf courses
- DoctorTrusted: Customer protection and independent certification program for practices
- Hostreview.com: Independent hostng review company
- The independent: Worldwide, national and local news website
- Cosmopolitan online: Large women magazine
Adwords is very strict when it comes to review extensions and by reputable they really do mean reputable. As a rule of thumb for review extensions the content from a third party review website will be requiring some legal permission by the thrid party for you to use their content.
Why are my review extensions not showing
On average we have generally found that review extensions will be shown alongside your adverts around 25% of the timen when they are eligble to show in one of the top 3 positions so it is normal for them not to show all of the time.
You review extensions may not be showing due to them being disaproved. This is a big problem with review extensions and they are known for being difficult to get approved. If your review extensions are disapproved make sure that they are not violating any of Googles review extension guidelines that I have outlined above and that you are citing a reputable source.
A second reason that your ad extensions may not be showing is due to Googles recent Ad Rank update. Ad Rank is Googles way of deciding whether or not they will show your review extensions and it is made up of several factors such as your maxmium CPC bid and your quality score. So to increase the likelyhood of your ad extenions showing you should work on improving your quality socre and possibly looking to increase your CPC bids.
Ad Rank is designed to show the best performing set of ad extensions, so if Google finds that your adverts acually pefrorm much better with callout extensions and sitelink extensions being displayed alongside your adverts then these will be dispalyed more and your review extensions will be dispalyed less.
Sam Owen found that in some accounts that he manages where google found that review extensions were adding lots of value they were displayed almost 100% of the time and in other accounts where other extensions perform better and review extensions hardly ever show
Review extension reporting / tracking
There are two ways to test the effectiveness of your review extensions and measure there effect on your click-through rate and conversion rate.
The first method is the most practicle but less accurate and works by comparing the performance of your adverts when review extensions are shown to the overall performance of your campaigns.
To do this go to your ad extensions tab ad click view: review extensions. You should now see your data for when your review extensions are being shown, you can now compare this data to the data for your whole campaign for the same time period to see the effect of adding review extensions on the performance of your account as a whole.
When you are doing this however you do need to bear in mind that your review extensions will only be shown when your adverts are in the top 3 positions so are likely to have high click through rates.
Or if you want to determine which review extension is performing the best then you can just compare the statistics for each review extension and compare them to each other.
If your average position of your adverts is just 5 and the average position of your adverts when your review extensions are being shown is 2, then you would naturally expect the click throguh rate to be considerably higher as the adverts are in a higher position. So if you are seeing increase in click-through rate of 100% or 200% this is likely be due to your adverts appearing in a higher positon, the effect of review extensions will only make up a small portion of this change.
A second more accurate way to test your review extensions would be to compare your account level data (provided that you add your review extension at account level) from a week before your added your review extension to the data for 1 week after you added your review extension and then looked at the difference in performance. This will allow you to see the overal effect
If you were to use this method your would however have to ensure that you don’t make any other changes in these two weeks that may have an impact on conversion rate or click-through rate as these would skew the resutls of your test. This does however make this type of test quite impracticle.
How to get reviewed
Getting reviews is generally much easier for larger well known companies, however finding reputable 3rd party reviews for small to medium sized business can be much more difficult. For small to medium sized business generally the best placed to get reviews are from Google trusted stores or rating agencies such as the better business beauro.
You will not always know when your business has been reviewed online so it make sense to take steps to find your reviews. Here are a couple of steps that you can take to find reviews for your review extensions.
A great tip from Benn Transatt from webpagefc is to setup Google alerts, these are a great way to find possible reviews, award mentions and profiles for your brand. These can then be used for your review extensions. He suggests adding ”’review” and ”award” to your alert along with your brand.
He also suggests that you search google for your brand using queries such as ”review”, ”testemonial” or ”award” to find new opportunities.
So what are you waiting for? Go out and create review extensions for your account right now and start seeing improvements in conversion rate and click through rate.