The main currency that online businesses rely on for success? Google’s ratings and reviews. That’s why whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, every star matters. After all, Google owns 73% of all online reviews, and consumers look to them before making a purchase.
So it comes as no surprise that companies have been excited about the new options for AI-generated ratings and reviews. The main issue, however, boils down to one thing: the lack of authenticity. And consumers are starting to catch up. In fact, 50% of consumers think they saw misleading reviews on Google in 2022.
As a business owner, you would want to avoid these on your listing because they can harm your reputation. You’ll want to weed them out and prevent them from burying the good ones.
But with AI technology and the rise of automated content, keeping genuine and quality reviews is even more difficult.
Don’t believe us? Take the quick test below—spot which one of these smartwatch reviews is AI-created spam.
“Oh man, my wife is all about this smartwatch! She’s never been into gadgets, but this one won her heart. She’s gushing about its cool features and stylish looks. Happy wife, happy life, right? Here’s a photo of her and the watch from our camping trip. . .”
– Henry Forrest, New User, Burbank, California | Posted 5 hours ago
“The latest smartwatch is a marvel of technology, seamlessly integrating AI-powered features that elevate daily life. Its sleek design, precise health tracking, and intuitive user interface create a harmonious experience. Read more: bit.ly/notrealurl.”
– Al E. Gant, New User | Posted 30 minutes ago
“The smartwatch was shipped early, but this one’s.. meh. I was expecting fireworks, but it’s just meh. It does the basics fine, but nothing mind-blowing. The hype left me disappointed. Maybe I’ll warm up to it eventually, but it’s just another gadget in the drawer for now.”
– Alan Lim, New User, Chicago, Illinois, Posted 10 hours ago
Answer? If you guessed B then you are right! What gave it away?
Though AI E.Gant didn’t have any critical comments, Henry Forrest has a photo to prove he and his wife are human beings. On the other hand, Alan Lim was a bit negative but sounded like an honest customer.
Al E. Gant’s robotic comment even encourages users to leave the review page with a shady URL. This is a dead giveaway that it’s an AI-generated review.
Again, you should refrain from promoting your business with spammy AI-supported reviews because it would damage your reputation and make it challenging to attract real customers.
Google Merchant’s most recent product rating update attempts to address these types of AI reviews, which classify it as Automated Content.
This is a smart move, as it will help to ensure that AI content is not used to mislead or deceive consumers. But it’s important to note that this is just a first step. Google will need to continue monitoring the situation and take further actions to ensure that AI content is used responsibly and ethically.
In the meantime, let’s determine what this update means for your business and its role in your marketing efforts. Read on to learn:
- What Is The Google Merchant Center And Why You Should Sign Up For It
- Why You Should Join The Product Ratings Program
- What Is The Latest Google Merchant Center Product Rating Policy Update
- How To Encourage Customers To Leave Quality Reviews
- How To Spot Fake Reviews On Google
- How Will The Automated Content Policy Shape The Future Of Content Creation
What Is The Google Merchant Center And Why You Should Sign Up For It
It’s the platform where you manage your business’s product information to show up in Google Shopping and other surfaces across Google. Think of it as a dashboard for optimizing your products’ appearance in Google Search and Google Shopping.
To get set up, you’ll first need to create a Merchant Center account and upload your product data feed—a spreadsheet with details on all your products, including title, description, image, price, etc. Google uses this information to match shoppers with your products when they search.
The key to ranking well in Google Shopping is providing high-quality, accurate data. That means:
- Descriptions, titles, images, etc., should be written and optimized by real people who understand your products and target customers.
- Customer reviews should come from actual paying customers, not bots. Google can detect paid or incentivized reviews and will penalize your account.
- Specs, prices, inventory, etc., must be kept up-to-date. Out-of-stock or inaccurate product info frustrates shoppers and hurts your ranking.
By focusing on the quality and accuracy of your product data, you’ll be well on your way to earning your next 5-star Google review and top spots in Google Shopping results.
Why You Should Join The Product Ratings Program
Google’s Merchant Product Ratings Program allows businesses to add star ratings and reviews to their product listings and ads. These reviews build trust and help customers make informed buying decisions, driving more qualified leads to your site.
How To Join The Program
- You need a Google Merchant Center account connected to your Google Ads account to participate in the Google Product Ratings program.
- Enable the Product Ratings feature in your Merchant Center account.
- Add reviews to your product data feeds. Merchants can add 1 to 5-star ratings and reviews to product listings and ads. Google may also source ratings and reviews from other sites.
Important Policies To Follow
- Reviews must be authentic from genuine customers.
- No paid, incentivized, or bulk reviews.
- Reviews should evaluate the product.
- Ratings and reviews must be in the target country’s language.
- Merchants can’t modify or remove negative reviews.
- Merchants must monitor and report fake or paid reviews.
Google routinely checks for policy violations and may remove or disable the product ratings feature for violations. With the new update, the company is working to improve the detection of misleading AI-supported content.
What Is The Latest Google Merchant Center Product Rating Policy Update
Google’s Automated Content policy update aims to curb spammy, AI-generated content on their platforms. Specifically, their updated Product Ratings policy now labels automated and AI-generated reviews as spam. Any reviews created entirely by software bots or algorithms without human editors will be removed.
Make sure your reviews have the following:
- Authenticity: Real reviews from real people provide helpful, honest feedback.
- Relevance: Reviews that are relevant to the product or service. Broad, repetitive comments are less valuable.
- Constructiveness: Reviews that balance positive and critical feedback in a respectful, good-faith manner.
AI has its benefits but cannot replicate these human qualities—yet. The automated content update ensures that ratings and reviews meet specific standards of quality, relevance and authenticity. You should focus on encouraging genuine customer reviews to build trust and authority.
How To Encourage Customers To Leave Quality Reviews
Asking for customer reviews is crucial in building a solid online reputation. Here are some effective strategies to encourage your customers to share their experiences:
Offer Incentives for Reviews
Offer customers a small incentive (discount, freebie, etc.) for leaving a review. Make it clear that it’s a token of appreciation.
Utilize Social Media Platforms
Leverage the power of social media to engage with your customers and encourage reviews. Chat with your followers, respond to their comments, and ask for feedback directly.
Create A Seamless Review Process
Make it easy for customers to leave reviews. Provide clear instructions and direct links on your website and in your emails. The more straightforward the process, the more likely customers will leave a review.
Showcase Customer Testimonials
Add customer testimonials to your website to build trust and credibility. Testimonials can be longer and more detailed than reviews, providing potential customers with a deeper understanding of the positive experiences others have had with your business.
Monitor and Respond to Reviews
Monitor Google My Business for new reviews. Respond promptly to all reviews, positive or negative. Show gratitude and address concerns. Engage with customers to improve experiences.
Remember, the key to obtaining genuine 5-star Google reviews is to provide exceptional customer experiences. Focus on delivering excellent products, outstanding service, and personalized interactions.
By consistently exceeding customer expectations, you’ll naturally generate more positive reviews and strengthen your online presence.
How To Spot Fake Reviews On Google
Spotting fake reviews on Google requires a keen eye. As a business owner, it’s important to monitor reviews of your business and report anything suspicious. Some telltale signs of fake Google reviews include:
Overly Generic Or Repetitive Praise
Look for reviews that sound too similar or use generic phrases without specific details. Genuine reviews provide specific feedback and mention particular experiences.
Lack Of Personal Details
Authentic reviews often mention specific aspects of the business, such as an employee’s name, a particular product or service, or a specific event. Fake reviews tend to lack these personal details.
A Sudden Influx Of Reviews
It could be a sign of manipulation if you notice a sudden surge of critical or 5-star Google reviews, especially if they are all positive or negative. Genuine reviews are typically posted over time and show a mix of opinions.
Inconsistent Language Or Tone
Pay attention to the language and tone used in the review. Fake reviews may exhibit inconsistencies in grammar, punctuation, or writing style. Genuine reviews usually have consistent language and tone.
Unverified Accounts Or Suspicious Activity
Check the profile of the reviewer. Fake reviews may come from newly created or unverified accounts with little to no other activity. Also, be wary of reviews from the same IP address or devices.
Extreme Ratings Without Explanation
Reviews that give the highest or lowest rating without any explanation or justification should raise a red flag. Genuine reviews typically provide reasons or examples to support their rating.
By staying vigilant and taking the necessary steps to identify and report fake reviews, you can ensure that your business maintains a trustworthy and reliable online presence on Google.
How Will The Automated Content Policy Shape The Future Of Content Creation
Google’s updated product rating policy proves that human oversight is still necessary to create high-quality content. While AI tools can generate reviews and other content at scale, they lack the nuance, empathy and judgment of real people.
Rather than viewing AI as a replacement for human content creators, businesses should see it as a tool to enhance their efforts. In the future, AI might help identify opportunities to improve relevance or flag reviews that need a human touch.
Balancing AI and human input will remain vital. If used responsibly to amplify authentic voices, AI could help scale the impact of original reviews. But without oversight, it risks polluting the web with spam and eroding consumer trust in the brands and platforms we rely on.
The future of content and AI depends on collaboration, not competition, between humans and machines.
The rise of AI will undoubtedly transform content creation, but not by replacing the human element. The most compelling content still comes from a place of empathy, insight and shared experiences that only real people can provide. AI should amplify those voices, not mimic them.
AI Can Generate Reviews, But It Can’t Replace Human Experience and Humanized Content!
AI and automation can only take you so far. Nothing beats real human insights and interactions to build authentic customer relationships and establish credibility and trust in the competitive online world.
While AI will undoubtedly continue to shape how we create and consume content for reviews and relationships, people still matter most. If you want those coveted 5-star reviews on Google, focus on the human experience – make meaningful connections, provide fantastic service, and give your customers something real to rave about.
That’s how you’ll earn reviews that genuinely reflect the heart of your business. The future may be automated, but genuine relationships will always be handcrafted.
Want to generate authentic Google reviews? At Beanstalk Growth Marketing, we can help you get more reviews and boost your online visibility. Our team of experts who will work with you to create a business growth strategy that fits your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our review generation services.