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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Stan Sher

Stan Sher President

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Where did my Yelp Reviews go?

As I write this article, I am in literally sitting at an Internet Sales 20 Group where my colleagues and I are sharing best practices with over 50 dealers.  It seems that auto dealers are concerned more about their online reputation now than ever before.  While it is great to see dealers place a focus on it there still needs to be a structure in place that will create a strong reputation for the dealership.  Once a structure is in place, managing an online reputation is actually a very simple process.

The big issue that dealers are having is that they are losing their Yelp review visibility.  They have been focusing so much on Yelp those they had a lot of reviews get posted and then taken down.  This is a similar problem to have been going on with Google.  Let me explain the problem.  We all know that our industry has been labeled in negative ways by consumers for many years now.  Well, just like the consumer put a label on us, the review sites have done something similar by being cautious with what gets put out there.  When dealers are getting a lot of reviews coming in within a short period of time, sites like Google and Yelp get weary of the situation and question the validity of the reviews.

Yelp has been archiving reviews and showing very few.  It has been really upsetting dealers and I have heard this numerous times in the last two days.  I am here to tell you that there is nothing to stress over.  There are many schools of thought of how to manage the dealership’s online reputation.  I believe that dealerships need to diversify their reputation.  What do I mean about “diversify”?  Just like when you’re building a financial portfolio to manage investments of stocks, equity, money markets, and your bank account.  You need to have a strategy for managing reviews.  While Yelp and Google are great; they are only a few key players.  Take a look at Edmunds.com, Yahoo local, Cars.com, AutoTrader, DealerRater (it still works), Edmunds.com, City Search, and Merchant Circle just for starters.

It sounds like a lot of sites to be on but hear me out.  Create a strategy where every week or two the dealership focuses on having reviews posted on a different site.  For example, week 1 reviews are to be put on Google, week 2 we focus on DealerRater, week 3 we focus on Yelp, week 4 is for Yelp, and so on.  Now that you diversified your reviews take it one step further, create numerous blogs using platforms like Posterous, Tumblr, WordPress, and Google’s BlogSpot.  Once they are created, you can tie them in with facebook and twitter.  Now you can copy over the reviews into the blog format and repost them.  These build a huge buzz online while spreading your content all over the internet and improving your search engine rankings.  Take it even one more step further be developing a strategy to get live video testimonials from customers who buy and services vehicles at the dealership.  That strategy is simple and will go a very long way.  These videos should also be syndicated on blogs after posting them on Youtube and other major video sharing sites.

Jim Bell
Great post Stan and points that need to be taken. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket is my theory when it comes to online reviews. Yelp is a beast. It is basically non-existent in our area and would be interested to hear how dealers try to get Yelp reviews when it really isn't used in the area. In Metro areas, I see heavy usage, but not in smaller cities. Thoughts?
Mark Dubis
Stan; Sorry but I have to take issue with your logic. When it comes to customer reviews dealers need to steer customers to a forum where they can be part of the conversation. We discuss this in some detail on our FAQ site. http://askcarfolks.com/focus-your-customers-to-maximize-benefits/ Let’s imagine you are going hunting and you have a shotgun full of buckshot. You get to the open field and fire into the field hoping you hit something. Doing that all day could be very frustrating. The better course is to take a rifle, find your target, aim and then fire. That scenario gives you a better chance of success. Carfolks.com provides you with a marketing rifle to hit your prospects when they get to your website. ( Note: Remember you are spending thousands of dollars every month to drive traffic to your site) The major review sites do not care about the individual success of the dealership or their sales staff, they are consumer focused and often tainted with fluffed up reviews or attack reviews from other dealerships. We are seeing more dealers and OEMs embracing the customer experience and transparency. By offering a FREE page to every sales person on Carfolks.com we are working to improve the industry and reward good dealers. Dealers need to focus on promoting their primary asset, their people. http://www.carfolks.com/dealer/Landers-Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-RAM Shot-gunning reviews to multiple sites is a waste of time, energy and effort.
Mark Dubis
Just found this article about Yelp cracking down on bogus reviews. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/10/23/yelp-fake-reviews-public-shaming/?a_dgi=aolshare_email
Ed Brooks
Stan, I agree that putting all your eggs in one basket is a bad idea, but I have some questions about the actual strategies that you're advocating. The idea of changing the review sites on weekly basis doesn't make sense to me. Google and Yelp both say that spikes in the number reviews cause them concern. Wouldn't it make more sense to diversify and see a number of reviews coming in at a steady trickle, from lots of sites, than getting a flood of reviews from any single site. The other aspect I question is the idea of copying and pasting reviews from other sites into a blog. There are SEO issues that arise from duplicated content along with the obvious copyright problems.
Craig Waikem
You want google users to use google+ reviews, yelp users to use yelp reviews, yahoo users to use yahoo reviews, etc. Whichever they already have an account with, point them in that direction for validity. If they don't have a preferred method, steer them two cars.com and dealerrater.com. The diversification of your customer base should be enough to spread your reviews.

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