Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing

Did We Make a Big Google Mistake?

By Christine Rochelle on Aug 17, 2012

For weeks I've found myself saying the same one-liner, "reviews are missing from your Google+ Local listing, we reported it to Google but there's not much else we can do."

I find myself cringing every time I have to utter those words. I send them the link on Google's response to missing reviews, which really doesn't say much, and then we all wait. After coaching a dealer to ask customers to post reviews for them on Google, how do you explain to them why Google would then delete nearly every single one of those positive reviews, only leaving the negative reviews behind? For two years I have motivated dealers to hop on the Google train, branding them online as "Top Rated Dealer on Google" - but they aren't the top rated dealer anymore.

Did we all make a big Google mistake?

I've looked outside the auto industry and I have been tracking the very same issues for other businesses. Mike Blumenthal of Blumenthals.com has even took it upon himself to collect all the issues pertaining to missing reviews so that they are reported on the Google forum in one post. He also posts his own formula on the missing reviews.

 

Since there is not much a client or SEO can do, I also provide them with the 6,6,6 rule for lost reviews to guide them as to what to expect in terms of recovery of the reviews. It might offer some small comfort.
 
What is the 6,6,6 review rule? (any client imagined thoughts about the devil suggested by my guideline are actively encouraged)
 
  • If reviews don’t come back to the Google Places page in 6 days, they might return in 6 weeks
  • If they don’t return in 6 weeks they might return in 6 months
  • If they don’t return in 6 months they have descended to Dante’s 6th Ring of Hell

Joking aside, what are the next steps for a dealer who has had their reviews missing from Google? And what about a dealer who has had all of their positive reviews go missing?

Google is a free tool, after all, we don't have to use it. In fact, when you create a Google login their terms of service that you probably blindly accepted made that very clear:

"OTHER THAN AS EXPRESSLY SET OUT IN THESE TERMS OR ADDITIONAL TERMS, NEITHER GOOGLE NOR ITS SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS MAKE ANY SPECIFIC PROMISES ABOUT THE SERVICES. FOR EXAMPLE, WE DON’T MAKE ANY COMMITMENTS ABOUT THE CONTENT WITHIN THE SERVICES, THE SPECIFIC FUNCTION OF THE SERVICES, OR THEIR RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, OR ABILITY TO MEET YOUR NEEDS. WE PROVIDE THE SERVICES 'AS IS'." 

Did we make a mistake in molding a business' digital presence around something no one has control over? Do we start over, or do we keep fighting?

I'd love to know your thoughts on this.

 

 

Comments

Christine --
There is no question that Google is a huge source of frustration for dealers (and those of us who help them). There are frequent changes and what can seem like an arbitrariness that the rest of us are left to try to react. For the pro-active among us, this is an uncomfortable position to occupy! It's not just Google though. Yelp with it's filtering system and the "Yelp sort" are also challenging.

At the end of the day, it's Google's world and we all just live in it (at least from a search engine perspective), so it is a fact of life that we all have to deal with. As with all issues related to online reputation and review sites, it all starts with what happens at the dealership and the good news is that that actually can be controlled by dealers! If the process is solid, followed consistently and there is care paid to the experience customers have in every department in the dealership, that should extend into the online world and be reflected in the reviews written about the dealership.

Thanks for kicking off an important discussion.

Kristen Judd
@kwjudd

Aug 17, 2012

Thanks so much Kristen! You are so right - it is a Google world, we just live in it....as I check my Gmail through my Chrome browser :). I have suggested to dealers to try to encourage customers to mention the salespersons name in the review and the model they purchased...more details could make them stick? It's just a theory, an option.

Aug 17, 2012

For what it's worth, I have been working with Google on maps issues for about a year, and now on this very issue. After talking to a few other sources, I suspect that as Google places more importance on reviews they are beefing up their spam algorithms. I think that legitimate reviews were removed along the way. The process we use at our stores to gather reviews has been vetted by my contact at Google, but without getting into the nitty gritty, I believe that the process we use may have led to the reviews being mistakenly labelled spam.

My contact was aware of other issues at stores in different markets, but those stores had stopped following up so he assumed it had resolved itself. After sending over the information I had gathered, it was clear that the issue was not resolved, and it was escalated internally.

Aug 17, 2012

Thanks for the insight Mark. I hope that it is handled for your stores and Google sees that so my dealers are passionate about their Google reviews.

Aug 17, 2012

If we all agree that positive Google reviews are an asset and we know Google to date has offered zero help I suggest we fight the battle. Start over! One of our Google+ Local pages is now MIA so its not just a review issue.

Aug 19, 2012

Mark it would be helpful if you told us why you think your process was the reason your reviews are gone. What process did you use

Aug 19, 2012

I do not see how this is not a liability issue for Google. I would understand if all reviews disappeared but to leave just the negative aones amounts to slander in my opinion, whether intentional on Google's part or not. Whether we pay to have reviews in my opinion is not relevant, they are paid by advertisers who see their sites as relevant and reviews are a part of that. All of the reviews were done by our clients and never done at the dealership. We had 88 positive reviews and four negative and were left with just the four. Our web traffic dropped as a result. This hurt our business and Google should be held responsible in some way. There is legislation in some places where false reviews have punitive results, I do not see how arbitrary removal of reviews, without notification to the proprietor, is any different. It would be very easy for us to contact each client and have them verify that they wrote our reviews yet we were given no chance to verify.

Aug 24, 2012

Comments 1 - 7 of 0

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Christine Rochelle's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Fall into Customer Loyalty with an Event

    Can you feel it? Autumn is in the air. For some of the country, it is starting to get cooler and even the leaves are beginning to change. If you aren’t experiencing the spirit of fall yet, you can still celebrate the official start to the autumn season on September 23rd. Regardless of your climate, fall provides a perfect opportunity to market to customers. Here are three ways you can drive traffic and build customer loyalty with a fall event. Support Local Sports The autumn season is synonymous with football and soccer. If you are a dealership that is actively involved with your local school district or sports organizations, think about hosting a tailgating party at your dealership. You could have food, music, and even a car decorating station. This type of fall event shows your commitment to the community, provides additional foot traffic to your lot, and builds loyalty for your dealership. Eat Pumpkin and Apples People love fall because of the food and nothing brings people toge...Read post

  • 3 Reasons Responsive Websites are Better for SEO

    Web developers started touting the benefits of the responsive website content since the dawn of smartphones, but it was more for functionality rather than increased visibility. It wasn't until 2011 and 2012 when large companies like Google started promoting the concept that the SEO world opened their eyes to the search ranking benefits. We believe wholeheartedly in responsive websites for dealers, not just because Google likes them, but because they present a better experience for your customers. Still, the SEO aspect cannot be ignored, so I've put together a small list of reasons that responsive website design is a strong play for improving your organic search engine rankings. Every Page Visible Dealers and vendors can debate about whether Google is truly "promoting" responsive website design or if they're simply listing them as the first option when discussing mobile website interfaces, but one this that Google and Bing have said that cannot be debated is that they like a 1-to-1...Read post

  • The Two Sides to Social Media

    Everyone knows about the front-facing part of social media. Some of us use it every day. Whether we're checking updates, following a story, or simply looking into what our friends are doing, we go to our favority social media app on our phones or visit the sites on our computers and explore the world socially. The other side of social media is more mysterious. It's not that it's a secret; many discussions have been had about it right here on Driving Sales. It's that few dealers are talking about it, fewer vendors are offering it, and the social media sties themselves are doing a terrible job at getting the word out. That's fine by us. The longer that it's a secret, the better it is for our dealers. This other side, the "dark side" of sites like Facebook and Twitter, rely on their number one asset to help businesses spread their message to the right audience. That asset is targeting, and the methodology that these social networks employ are can be downright powerful. Let's take a...Read post

  • Change the Game with Special Finance

    ~~In today's technology driven, high speed, high cost, velocity environment in which we live there has to be more than the race to the bottom to sell new and pre-owned vehicles. There has to be more than just the "best" price, and the "best" customer service. There has to be more than just the "free" oil changes, and "free" tires. Listen....same is lame! There has to be more.... Well… I am pleased to announce that there is certainly more for those Dealerships that have moved beyond the mere commodity side of this business to master and leverage the opportunity to sell solutions. Of course, I am referring to Special Finance. But wait... what is Special Finance exactly? Special Finance is creative solutions to everyday problems such as poor credit history, no credit history, limited income, limited work history, negative equity, and limited cash down. Dealerships that excel in Special Finance solve everyday problems, set customers up for future success, and dramatically change lives! ...Read post

  • Testing Every Component of Websites and Tools is the Key to Maximizing Leads

    There are three rules when it comes to properly A/B testing the various components of your website and the tools that drive it. We use them and we know there are a handful of other vendors who use them as well, but you don't have to be a vendor to take advantage of them. Dealers can do this type of testing as well. ...Read post

  • Stop Using Public Relations as Advertising

    Throughout history, public relations professionals have assisted companies in gaining exposure and getting the right message to the right audience at the right time. In the past, PR agencies relied on connections with journalists, media contacts and industry publications to relay relevant company news. With the arrival of social media, and digital marketing, PR agencies have had to evolve with the times. It has become a content-driven world, with a whole lot more opportunities to place content. While it is now easier for PR agencies to spread a company’s message, the amount of information news outlets and other publishing platforms receive is quite overwhelming. As such, it is now more important than ever to get your messaging right, so it does not get lost in the noise, or, even worse, turn the audience away.  A good public relations agency knows which types of messages are appropriate and most effective for each type of content. Public relations firms are now frequently retaine...Read post

  • IFMG and DealerStrong in Action: the Special Finance SuperGroup Meeting in Las Vegas - September 8, 2014

    Last week our Director of Sales, Russ DeVries, participated in one of DealerStrong's semi-annual SuperGroup Meetings. Scheduled to coincide with the Industry Summit at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, the SF SuperGroup includes dealer principals and senior management from some of the highest volume SF stores in the country. Here's a quick recap.Read post

  • In Marketing, New Trumps Used Every Time

    Bob visits a website searching for a new vehicle. As he filters down to the model he is considering, he is confronted with a seemingly endless list of stock photos with similar prices. Frustrated at the lack of information, he leaves and attempts his search on another site just to get the same results.   Suzy is in the market for a used vehicle. After comparing vehicles by prices and mileage, she finds one that fits her needs and her budget. The vehicle doesn’t have a very good description, however, and she has questions about the vehicle’s condition. She fills out the form and asks for more pictures of the vehicle. All she gets in return are repeated invites to schedule an appointment while being bombarded with phone calls from salespeople.   Joe is shopping for a new vehicle also. Joe is a very meticulous person. His house is always in order. His DVDs are alphabetized. He refuses to buy anything used. He knows that he wants the new Mustang. He also knows that he wants it ...Read post