Review Extensions: AdWords’ Mythical Monster

By Carrie Albright | @Albright_C | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

There was once an ad extension that promised to improve your account health with better relevance, trust, and even engagement. Review extensions had rolled out, and all you had to do was complete a form such as this and all would fall into place.


Create Review Extension


But it didn’t happen that easily, did it? No. In fact, there many out there still trying to get review extensions approved, despite many attempts. Much like ol’ Nessy, the review extension becomes something that you hear about, maybe even know someone who’s seen it firsthand, but you resign yourself to only dreaming of.


Well, my friends, the review extension is not a myth and today we’ll not only go over the top pathways for approval and disapproval, we’ll also see how review extensions impacted one account in a few different ways.


The FAQs of Review Extensions


Who can get a review extension & what do they cover?


Review extensions are all about you as a business, not a specific product or service. You’ll get one review extension showing at a time (when eligible) which provide an overarching review about what it’s like doing business with your company.


Where do they show?


For now, they only appear on the Search Network. (If you’re interested in reviews to accompany your PLAs, however, be sure to look into Seller Ratings and Product Ratings)


Where does the review content come from?


This is the important part – are you paying attention??
So your add must be “an accurate, current, credible, non-duplicative third-party review of the advertiser’s business.” – Google Support 2015


Just like your ad copy, the content should be visible in the text on the source page, but unlike ads, you must link directly to that page.


When it comes to what a third party, credible source might be, Google also has rules. It requires the following:


  1. The site must be accessible to the public, which means the user can’t be required to sign up or sign in to see this review.
  2. Paid endorsements aren’t allowed. (You have my approval on this one, Googs)
  3. Reviews that don’t require extra clicks, such as opening a PDF or video, in order to access the review content.
  4. No aggregate reviews and rankings from user review sites – these should be saved for seller ratings, instead!


I think I’ve got it – what’s the hold up?


Even with these useful details, it’s still far too easy to get disapproved. In an agency that works with dozens of eligible advertisers, I still see far to many extensions come back disapproved for the tiniest of details. Let’s focus in on some of those details in the next section of this post I’d like to entitle:


What you’re doing wrong, dum-dum:


1)    Individual reviews – you need a publication or organization’s feedback on your company, not just a one-time user’s account of your business.

2)    Age – Your review needs to be less than 12 months old. This is a tricky one, especially when it’s a one-time publication.

3)    Poor wording– Plugging the name of your business multiple times in the review text won’t get you approved any faster

4)    Linking properly – Be sure to link to the original source

5)    Changing the review from its original wording – This rule can get you in trouble, as the option of “paraphrasing” comes into the picture. Mainly you’re required to stick to the script and not add any fluff of your own, such as exclamation points.


Much like Google does with ad copy requirements, the powers that be have provided a few ideas for what you may or may not be doing correctly in your review extensions.


The Check List pt 1: Your Review Source


Google Rev Ext pt 1


Once you know from whom you’re getting your amazing review, you need to carefully word the extension. That leads us to:


The Check List pt 2: Your Review Content


Google Rev Ext pt2


Fun Fact


For a Google Trusted Store extension, the word “Paraphrased” came up- what does that mean, anyway? Although the standard Oxford Dictionary definition of the term is:


Express the meaning of (the writer or speaker or something written or spoken) using different words, especially to achieve greater clarity.


What Google recommends for GTS paraphrasing is the following:


Please use these quotes verbatim so as to match the policy requirements:


Excellent shopping experience
Recognized for excellent customer service
Shop with confidence
Reliable on-time delivery
Free purchase protection
Successful implementation of such an extension:


GTS review ext example


Having gone through so much of this process with a fine-toothed comb, we should see complete success, no? I wish it were that easy, that Nessy is just a few clicks away, but many are still experiencing trouble with getting their review extensions up and running.



Do they actually get approved?


Of course there are hundreds, even thousands of vendors whose review extensions are approved and running right this minute. In fact, I was so excited to share the existence of these fickle extensions, that I reviewed our agency’s client roster and pulled out a few examples for you.


1)    The Case of the Finnicky Wording.


Below are 3 examples of review extensions that came from a Better Business Bureau listing. The BBB is a favorite for review extensions, perhaps because it’s [nearly] idiot proof. But in the example below, you can see that these three separate clients submitted three unique reviews and yet only two of the three were approved. What!


Approved Client #1:


BBB rating 1


Approved Client #2:


BBB rating 2


Mysteriously Disapproved Client:


BBB rating 3


2)    Industries & Sources that have worked


First and foremost: Google Trusted Stores


They want you to use this. If you do, they’ll be happy to share your reviews. Not a GTS yet? Learn more!


Online Consignment Retail


Example Review Extension 1


File Share Company


Example Review Extension 2


International Travel Agency


Example Review Extension 3


Automated Call Service


Example Review Extension 4


PGA Golf Course


 Example Review Extension 5


Health Supplement Provider


 Example Review Extension 6


Online Retail Store


 Example Review Extension 7


Cloud Storage


 Example Review Extension 8


Last but not least, a little tale of review extensions, with some interesting followup.


In this story, we created a review extension for a lead gen client in the health and hospitality industry. Upon creating the A+ BBB review extension, and gathering over 1,000 impressions of these particular extensions, we saw some noteworthy responses. First I pulled the data from my Shared Library Main review feed:


Main review feed


We compared this data to the performance we saw preceding the addition of this extension. Comparing clicks and click-to-calls, we saw an interesting shift.


When it came to click volume, the addition of the review extension yielded a decline in the CTR for those directly clicking on the sitelinks.


Review Ext sitelink change


What? Less click efficiency? Aren’t review extensions supposed to help?


Well, yes, but keep reading, friend…


Next we looked at the impact on Ad Headline clicks and saw this:


Review Ext headline change


A very small difference, I’ll even say negligible, in CTR. So no big whoop there, either.


But before we call this a disaster, as sometimes happens, I pulled the number for our click-to-call volume. This is where it got interesting:


Review ext call change


As you can see, our count of direct calls saw a huge increase when we added the A+ BBB rating. In an industry that highly values phone calls (over other types of leads, even) this was a great win. From this we inferred that those users who saw our review extension were given the added boost to simply contact us directly, instead of looking for various types of neutral reviews.


Since then we’ve taken steps to acquire more review extensions, a process even we PPC Heroes struggle through. We’ve also begun testing our top impressing campaigns with complementary ad messaging to drive home the type of recognition and trust we strive to establish with our visitors.


What next?


Once you have your review extensions up and running, don’t stop there. Part of your business’s brand is ensuring that prospective customers recognize you and why you offer the best of whatever you do. While reviews (and seller rating and product ratings) are all fantastic for your PPC account, don’t forget that the greater marketing world will benefit from these accolades as well.


While the beast of the sea that is the review extension isn’t an exact science, one thing is to be sure: those who seek it out are more likely to find it.