Google testing ratings percentage instead of yellow ratings stars in text ads


Google has long featured star ratings in search ads and organic listings. In a new test, the eye-catching yellow stars and rating number are replaced by a percentage of positive ratings.

The desktop search results were sent to Search Engine Land by Peter Lavelle, digital marketer for Pure Fx in the UK. Notice the stars are replaced with “94% positive rating.”

google ratings with percentage instead of stars

Testing positive ratings percentage.

I’ve been unable to replicate it on desktop or mobile. Here’s how the ad for that same website appears with the ratings stars in a desktop search.

google ratings with percentage

Current formatting with average ratings number and stars in yellow

It’s an interesting test to move away from the bright ratings stars to a subtle all-gray, all-text extension. It gives the eye more opportunity to absorb the ad text and other extensions, however, and could be a test to see how this treatment performs ahead of the rollout of Expanded Text Ads, which put a greater emphasis on ad copy with substantially more characters.

In a keynote discussion at SMX Advanced last month, Sundeep Jain, who oversees text ads at Google, said one of the main reasons for the switch from a yellow “Ad” label to the green one was to minimize the number of colors on the search result to make it easier for users — mobile users in particular — to scan the page. Perhaps this is another step in that effort. We also don’t know if it will affect product listing ads — or organic listings where Google currently shows the stars along with the rating number and total ratings in gray text.

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