Google has quietly changed the requirements for its seller ratings program. Until recently, you needed a minimum of 30 unique reviews, from qualified sources over the last 12 months, to get a star rating on your AdWords ads. However, now you’ll need to rack up a total of 150 reviews in the same period to qualify.

Best of all, Google has kept this update very quiet. There’s been no public announcement and Google has only contacted a select number of businesses about the change. We had the news confirmed to us when Trustpilot – one of Google’s trusted sources – notified our team about the email they received.

gsr

Example of an AdWords ad with GSR – from AdWords Help

Have your stars disappeared?

If you’ve noticed a lack of star ratings on your ads recently, there’s a good chance this is why. Here are the new requirement you need to meet, as stated by Google:

 

  • “In most cases, your business must have at least 150 unique reviews — each from the past 12 months.”

 

  • “Your composite rating generally must be at least 3.5 stars or higher.”

 

Quoted from Google Support

This isn’t just bad news if you’ve seen your star rating disappear, but also if you’ve been chasing that 30-review tally to qualify. A sudden jump to 150 reviews is a big shift, especially for small businesses who are already under pressure to chase reviews from customers.

 

Why is Google making these changes?

Without any official statement from Google, we’re left to speculate about its motive behind the change. Our friends over at Trustpilot believe Google is keen to improve the overall quality of the Google Seller Rating (GSR) program – and that makes sense.

You can’t deny seeing 150+ positive reviews about a business is going to make consumers feel more confident about buying.

What if I’m nowhere near 150 reviews?

It doesn’t really matter how you spin it, this is bad news for businesses who lose their GSR status. The first thing you need to do is monitor your click-through rates (CTRs) to see how much the loss is affecting the number of people who click your ad.

If you see a significant drop, then you’ll want to take action as soon as possible. If you’re signed up with a review site like Trustpilot, reach out to them for advice – it’s in their interest to help you, too.

Here’s what they had to say to us:

 

“The best way to make up the difference is to collect as many reviews as possible, as quickly as possible.

Luckily, Trustpilot’s review invitation tools make this super easy – you can send invitations to customers in bulk using an Excel spreadsheet, automate invitations for every customer, and/or connect to one of our turnkey eCommerce apps. I also recommend taking advantage of our invitation reminder feature, which can significantly improve your review response rate.”

 

If you’re not in a position to boost customer reviews quickly, then you may need to explore other ways of increasing your CTR. Expanded text ads are certainly one option to explore, if you’re not using them already – they’re designed to improve CTR, after all.

Let’s say it one more time, though: start by tracking the data first, because you may not see a drop in CTR worth panicking about.

 

Is there any good news in this?

As with any change to how Google delivers ads, there are always winners and losers. In this case, you’re a winner if you still qualify for GSR and you’ll be a long-term winner if you come back to earn it again later. With less businesses qualifying for the rating, it becomes more valuable to those who make the cut.

Generally speaking, though, it feels like another loss for small business owners – especially those already struggling to make 30 reviews per year.