By Ben Austin, CEO, Absolute Digital Media

It’s undeniable that merchant/shopper relationships have come a long way in the past decade alone. Millions of businesses the world over have found their footing online and have since reaped the rewards of its ease and flexibility. Shoppers can now find merchants selling specific products faster than ever before, but with the animosity of the internet how can shoppers be sure your site is trustworthy?

It’s a fact – shoppers are reluctant to buy from shops they don’t know. Without face to face interaction or being able to physically see the products, it is understandable why potential customers may be hesitant. As usual, Google has a clever answer to dispel any shopping concerns and help people shop online with confidence. Google Certified Shops is a programme that is now open to all merchants in the UK, with the aim of giving customers the assurance they need.

Google Certified Shops is a free certification programme that helps people discover online stores that offer a consistently excellent shopping experience. Once your shop is certified, a Google Certified badge will be attached to your business. This will highlight your high ratings from other customers, your reliable delivery and fantastic customer service. With these added ratings shoppers will undoubtedly have increased confidence. However, the fact that Google offers free purchase protection for shoppers who opt in after making a purchase, is a real mark of quality. This cover will even cover eligible orders up to £1,000.

Google report they have been testing the programme with selected retailers since the end of last year. The implementation of the programme has now been simplified for a wider range of merchants. As a new feature, Google now collects feedback from verified customers who opt to take the survey at the end of their shopping experience with your online shop. This guarantees that your ratings are always relevant and current.

If your online shop seems to suffering from a lull in business, then it may not just be SEO tactics you need to implement. Joining the Google Certified Shops Programme could give your customers the extra confidence boost they need. The programme is easy and free to set up, making it ideal for any merchant, large or small. If you want to see the Google Certified Shopper Programme in action then you can go to Best Bathrooms, River Island, or GHD to see how the badge and ratings will appear on your page.

Of course, those interested will have to meet certain eligibility criteria. As well as needing an order volume of at least 600 orders on a 90 day rolling basis, all checkout places including the order confirmation pages of your website, must be secured with HTTPs.

From our first analysis though it certainly seems like the effort will be worth it, holding benefit for both consumer and retailer.

Ben Austin is the CEO of Absolute Digital Media, an agency specialising in SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing and web design and build.