Performing a Google search for products will soon display friend reviews for the products being searched. The world’s largest search company announced on Monday that it would apple the friends reviews to the Google Shopping platform.
The platform pulls reviews left by people in your contacts list and then displays those reviews in the company’s product listings section.
Friend reviews will display first for products where they are available, allowing users to quickly determine if people they generally agree with like the product they are thinking of buying.
Google has also added the ability for users to share reviews with their Google+ account.
While Google has used user reviews since the release of Google search results, the company has fallen prey to the 3.5 phenomenon in which products with many reviews typically end up with the same 3.5 out of 5 star rating. The new friend reviews system eliminates the rating issue by showcasing reviews from a persons own personal trusted sources.
Google is quickly becoming a premiere ratings destination after its purchase of restaurant guide company Zagat and travel guide publisher Frommers.
How important are user reviews for product purchases? Karen Corby, product manager for Google Shopping in a blog post writes:
“Reading product reviews has become an important part of how people research products and decide what to buy; in fact, last holiday season, 67% of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase … This means that it’s more important than ever to give users the ability to quickly find the reviews they trust the most — those from friends and family.”
Do you see friend reviews as a welcome added benefit for Google Shopping results. I personally love the value that socially vetted reviews bring to the table.