The impact of social on search has been well documented over the last year or so. Accordingly, Google has partnered with social commerce company Bazaarvoice to integrate their reviews directly into search results.
From the Bazaarvoice partnership announcement:
“Bazaarvoice, the market and technology leader in hosted social commerce applications that drive sales, today announced at the Social Commerce Summit 2010 that it has partnered with Google to share high-quality product review content from Bazaarvoice client sites on Google Web Search, Google Product Search, and Google AdWords ads.”
Research has highlighted that buying decisions are now heavily influenced by the advice of peers via social media channels. It’s the online world catching up with the real world – where word of mouth is critical to people selecting the right products and services.
This partnership between Google and Bazaarvoice confirms that Google see’s integration of these social reviews as an essential value add to their search engine listings.
While rankings highlight a certain level of authority, a listing supported by top reviews from other consumers gives search results the additional weight to genuinely influence buyer intent. This is both important from a user and business owner perspective.
Users want their researching via Google to be as conclusive as possible. Rather than finding a product/service and then conducting additional searches to find reviews and feedback – now they will be able to find both (potentially) via a single search – which equals a much better user experience.
For business owners – this further cements the importance of building positive reviews about products and services online. We’ve noted the impact of reviews on Google Local listings in the past, well now partnships such as this one will start to impact organic and advertising on Google also.
Review integration isn’t a totally new concept, as Google has sourced product reviews from the likes of CNet and Amazon in the past – but this fails to capture the valuable feedback of day to day users – which is where the Bazaarvoice partnership will change the landscape as highlighted via their press release:
The integration provides retailers and manufacturers the opportunity to boost brand exposure through:
- Full Length Reviews with Branding in Google Product Search: Retailers and manufacturers benefit from the opportunity to use reviews to gain greater visibility and brand recognition during key points in the shopping process. In addition, these reviews link back to the merchant’s product page.
- Ratings Information Through Web Snippets in Google.com Search Results: Bazaarvoice’s automated integration will allow review content to appear in Google’s natural search results.
- Aggregate Star Ratings in Google Advertising: Retailers and manufacturers will be able to leverage product ratings in Google advertising products.
If you’re looking to leverage new the integration of reviews into search listings – then utilising the Bazaarvoice system is an obvious first step, but based on their client list – it might be service aimed at the upper end of the market.
I believe this is the first step in a much bigger strategy. Expect to see Google seeking other sources for product and service reviews in the near future.
Accordingly, you should be making it easier for your customers to offer their feedback via the myriad of other free social review tools. There’s a good chance these will make their way into Google results at some point adding value to your search listings (assuming the reviews are favorable).