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Google Trusted Stores are Dead; Long Live Customer Reviews!

Many e-commerce merchants were surprised to learn last month that Google would be replacing the Trusted Stores ratings and certification program with Google Customer Reviews. Others were quite excited about the possibility and still others were somewhat confused about how the program might work - and now we're learning more.

The new Google Customer Reviews program will essentially enable merchants to collect reviews about their business (the program is free consequently). Customers that make a purchase on a participating website can then opt-in to receive an email survey to rate their buying experience with the seller. The collected reviews will then contribute to the seller's rating which is determined based on the results from these reviews and other review sources in aggregate, including independent data providers and Google's own surveys.

Seller ratings will show on Google Shopping, AdWords text ads, and even the seller's own website should they choose to do so. Google indicated that showing these seller ratings on text ads specifically can boost click-through rate by up to 10 percent - that's quite significant so be prepared for that should you opt to participate in the program.

Merchants interested in participating will need to sign in to their Merchant Center account to get started. Just select "Merchant Center programs" from the drop-down in the upper right hand corner, and click get started in the Google Customer Reviews card and accept the program agreement, and then add the survey opt-in code.

It appears that Google Customer Reviews is only available in the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, but expect more countries to be added in the future depending upon the success of the program.

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