Learn How Online Reviews Can Make or Break Small Sellers

If you’re in the business of selling things online, customer reviews are among your most important sales tools. That’s because more than 90% of consumers look at online reviews, and about a third of online shoppers will only buy items that have at least one positive customer review, according to USA Today. To help its Marketplace merchants collect these valuable pieces of information and boost their sales, Amazon recently rolled out a paid review-sourcing tool. in an environment where customer voices carry tremendous weight with other shoppers, every online seller needs to know how request reviews properly, showcase them, and (when needed) improve them.

Sourcing customer reviews the right way

If your shop has few or no reviews of your products, you probably need to encourage your customers to leave reviews of their purchases. It’s important to make your review requests in ways that comply with both Federal Trade Commission rules and Google’s guidelines.

What does the FTC say about online reviews? Honesty and transparency are the keys to compliance. Any customer reviews you share must be real reviews from real customers. If customers are reviewing products that your shop gave them for free, their reviews must include that information. And if you provide incentives to customers for reviewing your products, a practice the FTC discourages, you should let your customers know they need to disclose the incentives in the reviews they write. For example, if you send a customer a gift card for posting a review of one of your products, the customer needs to mention the gift card in the review.

Google has its own rules for online customer-review SEO markup that are designed to prevent inauthentic and cookie-cutter reviews from boosting stores’ search rankings. For instance, store owners can’t markup third-party or paid reviews using the SEO tactic schema, which would make it look as if the reviews came from the store’s customers. Store owners are also prohibited from sifting out and removing negative reviews, because doing so creates misrepresents customers’ experiences.

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