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Getting, Using and Leveraging Reviews Part 2: Third-Party and Off-Site Reviews

Image Getting, Using and Leveraging Reviews Part 2: Third-Party and Off-Site Reviews
In the second part of this review article series,we'll look at sources of the reviews that Google uses and how they work. Most of these are paid third-party services that have different pricing options. Even if the service is free for reviewers, the merchant often must pay to access the information that the review party collects, or pay for premium placement to appear more highly in the review rankings. Pricing of services could change over time, so you should check the websites of the providers for the most up-to-date information.
 
Reviews can appear on the web from a number of sources. Most of the reviews returned by Google Product Search are pulled from the following sources:
Google Checkout
BizRate.com
Epinions.com (a service of Shopping.com)
PriceGrabber.com
ResellerRatings
Rateitall.com
Viewpoints.com
RatePoint.com

If Google has no reviews from these sources to pull from, there won’t be any reviews showing next to any of your listings or advertisements on Google.

The Bing shopping experience is a bit different. Currently, Bing has suspended allowing new merchants to join the Shopping program, and there's no set date for when they will begin accepting new merchants. In early 2011 Bing also removed the "Write a Review" link that appeared on local business listings and disabled the review publishing functionality. It remains to be seen if they will reinstate this, and this is the opposite of Google's approach, which has been embracing and expanding the idea of user-generated reviews and "likes" with Google +1. But, we do know that merchants need a Microsoft adCenter account to participate in Bing Shopping. You could sign up for this free account, and get updates and keep yourself aware of whether or not Bing plans to bring this back.

Google Checkout
If you use Google Checkout or other fee-based shopping comparison sites, those systems automatically ask for reviews. Signing up for these services is usually free, but many shopping-comparison sites — such as Yahoo! Product Submit, Shopping.com, and Shopzilla — charge a small cost-per-click fee each time a shopper clicks a link to visit your site. Buyers who complete a Google Checkout transaction will automatically receive an email asking them to review their experience.

BizRate.com
BizRate is a survey tool that provides point-of-sale invitations to participate in surveys to provide feedback on customer satisfaction, future intent, cart-abandonment, demographics, and reviews. BizRate provides free surveys and data collection reports with several options to customize the survey invitations and reports for additional fees. This tool requires a free account with Shopzilla.com. Merchants who have signed up for a Shopzilla account have the option of adding a line of code to their order receipt page which invites shoppers to leave feedback about their shopping experience at your store. The BizRate buyer surveys are a free tool utilizing a pair of surveys which take place immediately after purchase and after expected order receipt. With enough positive customer feedback, a merchant can become a Customer Certified merchant.

Epinions.com
Epinions.com is a service of Shopping.com. Participating merchants and other third parties may pay Shopping.com to be presented on the Shopping.com Network or to have their product or service offerings placed higher in their search results. Merchants and may also purchase research from Shopping.com. A membership to Shopping.com covers both sites, and the data feed that you send to Shopping.com and your bids for placement will determine how you are displayed on both Epinions and Shopping.com.
 
PriceGrabber.com
PriceGrabber is a storefront allowing sellers to list and sell products. Consumers who have completed a legitimate transaction through PriceGrabber are able to leave seller feedback and product reviews. It’s not free. Sellers are obligated to possibly pay two types of fees, Transaction Fees and Listing Fees. Transaction fees are $1.50 + 9% of the purchase price (the price for which you sell the item, including shipping and handling charges). Sales tax will not be considered as part of the purchase price when calculating the fees. Listing Fees are a monthly fee of $0.25 per active product. Each seller is granted 100 listing fee free products and will be assessed listing fee charge on any product beyond 100. Listing fee is calculated daily based on average number of active products.
 
ResellerRatings
Google shows reviews from Reseller Ratings throughout Google Shopping and within sponsored AdWords ads. Bing displays ratings and reviews from Reseller Ratings in Bing Shopping (in fact, Reseller Ratings is currently the only provider of reviews and ratings for Bing). Reseller Ratings maintains a list of participating retailers. For people who wish to leave a review, they have to create a verified account with a valid email address, and then find the company they wish to review in the list. If the company is not in the list, they can request to add it. Reseller Ratings costs $99 per month.
 
Rateitall.com
For Rate It All, logged-in members can click to rate anything in the database, and if an item is not in the database, a clickthrough brings up a wizard that will add it. Rate It All has an integrated customer follow-up system that asks for a review after each sale and a link to a page you control on each site individually, and interactive widgets for every item in the database that let users both post and read reviews from any site.
 
Viewpoints.com
Viewpoints is a free review site service, but merchants can pay for premium placement in the results. One drawback to participating in sites like Viewpoint and the above examples is that people usually need to create an account on the review site before they can leave a review. While this step increases the trustworthiness of the review and decreases spamming because each email must be verified before the account is created, it does create an additional hurdle that many people are not going to be motivated to jump over.

RatePoint.com
RatePoint provides you with monthly reports comparing the reviews of your business and your competitors, and gives you tools to generate reviews from your customers and then automatically publish those reviews to sites of your choice, including your website, Facebook, Twitter, and local search sites. If a review is negative, you have the opportunity to contact the reviewer before the comment is published. And, they guarantee that they will get you 3 reviews your first month. There is a cost associated with all of these tools, however . . . RatePoint costs $50 per month or $500 per year.

Google Partner Sites
One way to increase the likelihood that Google has reviews to show is to create an account with Bazaarvoice or PowerReviews, two review services that have partnered with the Google Product Reviews Program. The Google Merchant Blog post announcing the review program says they will feature full-length product reviews and user ratings from participating retailers and manufacturers wherever it will help users with their shopping, including in their search results and advertising programs.
 
On Google Product Search, your logo is featured alongside representative reviews from your site. If you’re a Bazaarvoice client, all you need to do to participate is to let Bazaarvoice know you’re interested in submitting your reviews to Google, and to make sure you’ve specified your canonical URLs for products in your web store. (Neither Bazaarvoice or PowerReviews indicate how much their services cost without contacting them). These review partners will automatically submit your product ratings to Google. If you choose not to work with one of Google’s partners, you can also submit this information manually in your product feed through the product review average and product review count attributes. Keep in mind, however, that there is likely some critical mass of reviews that your site and products will need to get in order to have reviews appear, especially for competitive products, because Google is going to weigh more heavily those retailers with more reviews, and more positive reviews.

Comparison Shopping Engines
Comparison shopping engines are also known as shopping comparison, price engine, or a price comparison service, allows individuals to see different lists of prices for specific products that are available on different sites.
 
Price comparison sites can collect data directly from merchants, or most commonly, through a data feed file. Merchants provide this information electronically in a set format.HEROweb provides full-service shopping data feed management services, or if you already know how to manage your feeds, we can construct a feed for you to submit, manage and optimize on your own. See the page on the HEROweb site with more information about our shopping feed management services
 
The reviews that come with the Comparison Shopping Engine accounts come directly from consumers who use those services. For instance, on Shopping.com, merchants can list their products for free, and only pay when the service drives a lead to your site. The consumers are prompted to leave reviews of the products they purchase, so getting your products listed on several shopping sites can be a good strategy.
Consumer reviews and ratings on the Shopping.com Network are from Shopping.com members who choose to post a review to the Network. Participating merchants can pay Shopping.com to be presented on the Shopping.com Network or to have their product or service offerings placed higher in the search results, and may also purchase research from Shopping.com.

Continue Reading Getting, Using and Leveraging Reviews Part 3: Managing Negative Reviews and Tracking Your Reviews


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