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Automaker's Reputation on Google is Now Made Public

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On: Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 3:56PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Automaker's Reputation on Google is Now Made Public

Google’s policies and procedures have a significant impact on commerce-related advertising, so the recent changes pertaining to the way Google lists automotive dealers online is causing auto retailers to adjust their online marketing strategies in order to effectively keep up with competitors. With regard to automotive listings, Google previously inserted a few random reviews from other websites, such as “DealerRater.com,” next to a local automotive dealer listing. 

Now Google reveals to surfers who are searching online for dealerships, the actual number of reviews that a dealership has received, then goes as far as to post the average customer ratings taken from all reviews, right next to the dealership listing. All potential customers can now evaluate previous consumers' experiences before ever visiting the dealership. 

The ratings that now appear next to each dealer’s listing on Google are exhibited as a 1 to 5 star rating.

"This is a huge game changer for reputation management, online and otherwise," says Eric Miltsch, Internet director for Auction Direct USA, a used-vehicle dealership in Rochester, N.Y.

Now when an internet surfer and potential customer finds a list of local car dealerships, if one appears with hundreds of reviews and a 5-star rating, and its competitor has only a few reviews with say a 3- or 4-star rating, there’s no question as to which dealership will most likely get that customer’s business.

Dealers do have the option to purchase software that scans the internet and monitors certain social media sites for any mention of the dealer or of key words selected. Beyond that, Google provides its customers with invaluable Webmaster tools that will give instant feedback to dealers regarding what consumers are saying about them on social media sites, such as Facebook.

According to Miltsch, Google’s webmaster tools are invaluable in helping him manage his online presence. "It's simple to set up," he says, "but a lot of dealers don't even have it in place. And if they do, they don't know how to use it."

The downside to Google’s new system is obvious; a dealer with just a handful of reviews is very susceptible to being passed over if the consumer ratings are unfavorable. The system could be fair and useful, as long as consumers are presented with enough information on each dealership in order to make informed decisions.

Recent Google changes have pushed dealers to be more attuned to their reputation management. There are many information technology agencies popping up that can assist dealers in staying up-to-date on just how consumers' feedback is translated into good or bad ratings online, and how to address any negative feedback right away in order to protect their reputation and minimize the adverse effect that negative comments may have on sales.

For businesses, in general, getting negative reviews are something that cannot be avoided, but dealers need to “create a dialogue with the customer so when other customers read it, they understand, 'Hey, bumps in the road happen, but this is a dealer that doesn't want it to happen twice,' “ Miltsch says.


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