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I’m sure some car buyers have the same skepticism trusting a dealers websites reviews like I do the Mayan Calendar. If I did then we both know the world is toast on December 21st.

I’ve heard some ORM vendors advise that the first step to increasing positive reviews is to capture your own customer reviews in a “testimonial spotlight” page on the dealership website. I’m pleased to see the wave of dealers requesting feedback in tandem with CSI requests and yet perplexed by the notion of a first step, directing them to the dealers testimony review page in the buying moment or after the purchase. I’m all for requesting reviews from the customers I.P after they leave the dealership, but posting on the dealerships site as the first step? Forget the first step logic for a moment and lets resonate in reality that customers will be suspect of any company’s site testimonials in the coming days to measure credibility. They already are.

For the dealers who spend all day everyday pushing customers to post reviews on the dealerships site, what happens when Google starts the slap claiming the reviews are not valid. The dealers are not a 3rd party review authority. Isn’t it Google’s power to make sure your found as the authority based on you being a more credible, honest, and candid source for both customers and search engines?

Yelp and Google are far more credible than a dealerships website.

Consumers know you can control the content on your site. The overall consumer sentiment senses that the dealer website does not have bulletproof credibility like peer-to-peer reviews do on 3rd party review sites.

Some dealerships are only populating positive reviews with 0 negative. This is hardly believable, and not aligned with what consumers will start demanding of dealerships in the future. The public demands and respects what their peers say about a dealer on highly ranked review sites much more than what is being said about the dealership on a dealer’s website.

My Uncle John’s opinion and review is be much more believable than any article I can read in the Wall Street Journal or a dealerships testimonial page on the dealer website. In a world where small is big, authority review sites, bloggers, relatives and friends are more influential than the American institution or media establishment or for the sake of this example, the dealership.

I also think most of us want less overlap between CSI requests and requests for reviews on 3rd party sites. I see firsthand how customers get befuddled considering which customer feedback mechanism to use and dealers thwarted by which ones we push.

Validated content is genuine, without manipulation

There’s no perfect answer to any of this, however, our statistics show customers are more likely to post the most authentic, honest, natural sounding review, once they get home or back to work. Bottom line is search engine algorithms are running bots and give higher ranking for validated content. Validated content is genuine, without manipulation and soon enough the public and Google will deem a review as valid when the review positions (filtered/unfiltered) cannot be bought to hide the bad and lift the good, that they are unchangeable from the inception and post live in real time.

Furthermore, one of the largest missed opportunities is the complaint. From my analytics, dealerships who welcome complaints from follow up communication are amazed at the uptick of unsatisfied customers and welcome the opportunity to understand underlying issues and then resolve. High class problem, right? The good news with follow up emails after the customer visit is you avert some of the most visceral slander that once online pretty much damages the dealers bottom-line.

It's a great time to look at partial automation of reputation building. Send a video email after the car sale or R.O. with what I call “organic drip” reputation review requests. This means a natural, day-by-day follow-up program with your customer after they make a purchase. Automating the process pulling from your DMS nightly, building reviews on review sites can work in tandem with your CSI survey requests whether you present a customer survey during or after the purchase.

Jerry Hart
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  • We have asked owners to do a "Thank You For Visiting" that is sent to every shopper that enters the dealership. If they buy the shopper gets a "Thank You For Buying" video from the owner. The video does not have to be personal with the persons name. Add an "If I can Be Of Any Service" text box with different areas of your dealership.

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