I hear alot of talk these days about customer reviews, and with good reason. They allow your prospects peers to tell your prospects about their experience with your business. This should be a no brainer for any business, but especially car dealerships. With such a negative stigma (most of it earned back in the day) tied into the car buying experience why wouldn't you want people talking about their experiences online. While most reputable dealerships get this part, most miss the big opportunity with customer reviews; allowing them to be indexed by search engines.
"But Chris my Dealer Rater reviews show up when I search for my companies name online" Good for you but you are still missing huge opportunities. "My Google Place listing has 80 reviews" Congratulations and keep up the good work, IF someone is searching for your name.
What if someone is on a search engine but isnt searching for your name? What if they are searching for new Chevy Malibu and happen to live near your dealership. What do you do then? Hope your website shows up in the search result? Even if your website shows up for that search it most likely wont be a targeted landing page and it almost certainly wont contain any customer reviews or user generated content.
Why not take your customer reviews to the next level? Start using services like Compendium (with their web to post feature we utilize at http://blog.harechevy.com) or Presto Reviews that allow you to take your user reviews and experiences and turn them into indexed content by search engines. That same person searching for a new Chevy Malibu sure would like to hear about that guy from the other side of town who just bought that same car and what he thought of it or his experience at your store. You already have this content and are already asking your customers for it, why not optimize it for your advantage instead of just for the Yelps and Dealer Raters of the world. Now Im not saying stop these services. With Google Places returning reviews from these sites on your listing they are a must have as well but use them as needed to enhance your online presence, not as your whole online presence.
There is one big caveat to this, keyword research. Whether you pay someone (highly suggested) or do the research yourself, you need to know what people are typing into search engines in your area. Stop guessing or optimizing your content for what you type into a search engine, you dont buy cars from you. Once you have hard keyword research evidence you are on your way to turning your customer reviews into indexed content that can truly break down barriers and drive business.
Stop relying on third party review sites that only show in branded searches and start optimizing your customers experiences and reviews so they show when it really matters, before they know who they want to trust with their hard earned money.
Chris Theisen is the director of digital communications for Hare Chevrolet the “Oldest Transportation Company in America” Chris believes in the power of engaging current and future customers via new digital media, and uses it on a daily basis. When not attached to some sort of technology device he enjoys golf, tennis, bowling and coaching youth sports. Chris, his wife Liz and their sons Michael and Jonathon live in Noblesville. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org