A few weeks back, hundreds of online advertisers received an email saying that their Google Trusted Store accounts had been deleted (in an angry, bold font, no less). Cue widespread panic…
Yup, people freaked out when they got the note, assuming this was yet another case of Google making them jump through hoops for basic benefits. I can’t say their reaction is unwarranted, given Google’s track record, but I’m happy to report that this message is actually a blessing in disguise.
So, What’s Changing?
Google’s reasoning for updating the application process is valid. They’ve implemented a number of improvements based on user feedback, such as:
- Allowing users to select where they want the Google Trusted Stores badge to appear on their website, rather than requiring them to display it in the lower right-hand corner.
- Permitting the Trusted Stores badge to be displayed on HTTPS websites, including store checkout pages.
- Simplifying the required technical integration so advertisers only need to add two code snippets to their website, rather than submitting their complete shipment and cancellation feeds.
While these adjustments may seem simple, they are long-awaited improvements that will provide additional flexibility to advertisers and ensure that their Trusted Store status is easier to achieve and maintain.
So how, with these less stringent requirements, will Google ensure that the merchants they endorse are up to snuff? It will be resorting to customer feedback through the Customer Surveys program. These surveys will be used to measure advertisers’ shipping, product selection and pricing. While this method isn’t as fool-proof as reviewing the data internally, it does allow Google to ascertain whether a merchant is “worthy” of the Trusted Stores badge.
For Former Google Trusted Store Members, Is It Really Worth Reapplying?
Former members of the program may be hesitant to reapply, as they recall the headaches they suffered the first time they completed the process. Don’t let this deter you! The benefits of being in the “in crowd” is absolutely well worth your while.
Having the Trusted Store status is particularly valuable for newer businesses or small mom-and-pop shops who are largely unknown to the online community. We know shoppers are hesitant to take the plunge and make a purchase from sites that they aren’t familiar with, even if the merchandise is spectacular or the prices are a steal. As someone who has been burned by spammy sites in the past (yes, I’m one of those girls who bought about 3 pairs of faux UGGs that never actually arrived), I get it. How better to overcome this curse than to show that you are endorsed for having a “consistently great shopping experience” by one of the biggest, most trusted companies in the world? By joining the Google club, customers will automatically feel more comfortable interacting with your company online.
Not to mention, being “in” with the Google Trusted Stores club could be just the thing you need to give you a leg up against your competitors in PPC. Because this program captures a high volume of customer reviews, members have access to coveted extensions that non-Google Trusted Stores merchants would kill for, such as:
Review Extensions, which allow advertisers to append an extra line of text to their ads
Seller Ratings, which provide a visual representation (in the star format above) of store ratings
Worried it’ll be tough to get back in the game? You shouldn’t be. Rest assured that the new application process is a gazillion times easier than it used to be. All you have to do is a quick account setup, complete the new and improved technical integrations and then allow Google to monitor your performance.
Not Yet a Member of the Elite Google Trusted Stores Crew?
Now’s your chance to join the club! You’ll certainly be in good company. Since Google has eased their restrictions and simplified the application process, we expect to see a huge influx of new participants. The only restrictions to keep in mind are that your company must have an average of 200 orders per month and meet baseline customer support functions within one business day. To get started, head to the new application page.
Why Is Google Suddenly All About Their Trusted Stores Program?
When the Goog makes such huge programmatic changes like this, many are quick to question their true motivations. While it claims that user feedback prompted these policy changes, many users actually believe that pacifying the merchant community was just a well-played PR move. Personally, I think that Ginny Marvin from Marketing Land hit the nail on the head when she theorized that Google’s main goal was to “help the company step up its positioning against Amazon as a shopping hub that offers up a large, curated set of retailers.”
I suspect that this is one of many changes that will come out of the impending battle between Google and Amazon to dominate the online shopping/advertising space. By making changes to expand the realm of Trusted Stores, it’s clear that Google is pulling out all of the stops to ensure they are in a competitive position. I, for one, am definitely looking forward to see what other adjustments the search giant makes to protect itself in the ever-changing online space.
Erin Sagin is a Customer Success Manager at WordStream. In addition to conducting software training and consulting calls for clients, she also helps to maintain our usability testing program. Originally from Western Maryland, Erin majored in International Studies with a concentration in Latin America at Kenyon College. When she’s able to take a break from PPC, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to the Caribbean. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.