Dealership Marketing

Reviews, Places, and SEO. Google’s new Integration.

Google is on the move again with possible (at the time of this posting) changes hot off the heels of a move to Google Instant.  In my opinion these changes should have a much more obvious impact on local businesses than what we’ve seen from Instant thus far.

Google is becoming much more integrated by combining Places (formerly known as Google Local) with Reviews and placing it inside the organic listings.

This move calls for an immediate need to concentrate on your online reviews that push stars to Google.  Right now that would be Google reviews themselves or DealerRater.

Dealers could get away with having bad reviews in the past because the maps and reviews were separate from the organic listings, but now it is really hard to miss those bad reviews.

So, what are the changes in this new integration?

  • Prioritization or organic rankings also being seen on maps
  • Reviews showing on Organic Listings
  • Address and Telephone number showing on organic listing (could change your website conversion numbers)
  • Ads from Google Places showing on Map and bottom of your organic listing
  • Removal of common links under the first organic listing
  • Link to Place page on organic listing
  • Links to Review sites on organic listings
  • Map moved to the right

I can’t stress enough how important it is to work on your customer reviews.  If anything that should be the most obvious thing these changes bring.  He with the best and most reviews will be chosen when up against someone who has few and/or bad reviews.

Thanks to JD Rucker for putting this screen cast together:

And for additional reading Matt Murray has a take on what this means as far as screen real estate goes:  Google Heightens the Space Race.

Has anyone seen how and if this changes the need to keep up with a Places listing for your dealership?  We’ve had some significant amount of pain with Local/Places for years (as seen from these DealerRefresh forums threads):

Who knew an argument with Jeff Kershner, in 2005, would lead to Alex becoming a partner with him on DealerRefresh. Where will the next argument take ...
Great post Alex!! The video was very helpful. I'm not sure I like the map on the right hand side.
This is a MAJOR change in Google Page One and it impacts all previous strategies for PPC, SEO, and IRM. This is so disruptive that I hope this is the akeup call that dealers needed to start their processes for online review management.
Wonder how long until it will start showing on Explorer.
My bad. I tried some searches on Explorer today and same results!! Reviews are huuuuge!
@Ryan - Yep, all browsers are now reflecting the change. Mobile devices are next and I'm seeing tests on iOS and Android showing sporadically.

@Bryan - It's big. Huge. Until now it was possible to hide SEO deficiencies with a strong Local/PPC strategy. Now, that's more challenging as the algorithm driving Local results is tied in directly with organic SEO.

@Alex - "I can’t stress enough how important it is to work on your customer reviews." No question. Reviews were often difficult to find in the old search as they only showed up in Places. Now, you can't really miss them. Also, GREAT observation on conversions. People use Google as the Yellow Pages now and having that important piece of data available without having to click may hurt traffic, increase conversion rates, and decrease "bad bounces" that occur when people click through just to get a phone number.
This change will again allow dealers that are actively working diligently on refining and growing their digital marketing campaigns to move ahead even farther of those dealers that fail to understand the power and importance of a well planned out digital campaign.

You bet it will. The gap between the "Digital Dealers" and the "Traditional Dealers" will widen even further.

Thankfully for our industry, more dealers are emerging and embracing digital. We had an excellent visit with a group on Friday that (1) Admitted that they hadn't paid enough attention to digital marketing, and (2) Were willing to do what it takes to correct that as quickly as possible. We're seeing these types of stories every day. It's refreshing.
  • R
    Richard Valenta
  • November 1, 2010
And we thought Google Instant was a game changer. This is much more important for local search.
What an impact this WILL have. I'm glad I've been on the dealer ratings bandwagon for a few years now and if you have been reading dealerrefresh for any length of time, I'm sure you are already sitting nice in the review front.

Also a nice addition is the fact that Dealer Rater star ratings are carrying over into the star ratings with Google Places. HUGE WIN for dealers pro-activelyleveraging their services.
oh too - I have to admit I'm really liking Google instant. I actually miss not having it on my ipad. I know awhile back many of us were on the fence on whether or not we liked it.
A few people I know hate Google Instant. I love using it and absolutely love how it affects our SEO products. It'll work on mobile eventually I'm sure.
  • J
    Jill B
  • November 3, 2010
Just noticed the user names dropped from google user reviews. No more clicking through to see if its real or fake! Is anybody else noticed this or am I seeing things?
Alex, great post.

For over a decade we have seen the tremendous power of influence that user reviews have on online purchased decisions. The value of authentic user reviews of local businesses is even greater for consumers because the risk and cost are often much higher as is the case with purchasing a new or preowned vehicle. Google knows this better than most. Internet fads come and go but user reviews for auto dealers are hear for good. Dealers slow to move will be hurt.