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Many dealerships today view online reputation management as a reactive job of monitoring social media and product reviews and then responding to them to make certain customers know that they care.  Proactive reputation building is where you want to be today.

The reputation of your dealer or your reputation as an expert is a precarious thing. Any negative press about your dealership or a new product or service can spread online like an STD, so it’s imperative to make the most of all the positive content you do have. It is also important to proactively protect not only the dealer reputation, but that of each vehicle brand or service repair or part you represent.

Get the Good Word OUT!

I suggest you first gather all the positive dealership content and about each product or service you offer.  Positive content could include but is not limited to:

  •     testimonials / reviews
  •     success stories
  •     give back to the community stories
  •     results of survey or trial
  •     case studies
  •     certifications and other marks of quality

Continually strive to get more positive content that can be maximized for the benefit of the dealers online reputation. You know it's critical to be proactive and build positive reviews that boost your local search score and ranking.

Publicizing Positive Content
What’s critical is syndicating your content online in as many places as possible so it shows up in the first page of search results. A great place to publish content with one click of a button to social networks is

Testimonials that are as Real as they Get!...on your website
For the most believable testimonials, create an image from your 3rd party review sites, such as Yelp,
Google Local, etc. Meaning, take a screen shot of your customer reviews from 3rd party review sites and place those on your website. Testimonials copied than pasted to your testimonial website page is much more believable to a visitor than testimonials published by the company who owns the website.  I’m shocked when companies only publish raving testimonials with all 5 stars. Is this really a trustworthy dealership when I see no negative feedback or interaction with unsatisfied customers? Also incorporate testimonials into your social media strategy with links to this page. Publish them in press releases, articles, and other online and offline materials.”

Next, set up a Press, Media, or News page
Got a big announcement? Toot your horn with a simple press release (success stories are the best) and publish it first on your corporate or business news website page. This way, all other online press releases will link back to the original content on the corporate website as the source of the information.

Most important! Success stories illustrate how your dealership has helped an individual struggling with a problem. If your dealership is married to the community and gives back then broadcast it all over your social networks. The pay it forward good deeds go viral so fast and build a dealers online reputation with the power of storytelling, while appealing to a different segment of your target audience.

Jerry Hart

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Why am I seeing so many dealers with business listings UNCLAIMED? Reminds me of the old days, circa 1998 and URL’s for the company name we're not claimed. Didn't that suck when you found out the URL was taken by someone or some company much less deserving of that URL. Same with your listing.

I’ve seen what happens to your face when you find out your competitor has claimed your listing. Signing up for a listing is one thing but much more important is CLAIMING your listing. For some this may seem like a no brainer, however based on how many dealers we support for reputation management, I’m shocked at how many have major review listings for their dealer name unclaimed.

Business listings should play a role in your marketing plan because who wants to waste time with promotions that don’t benefit your bottom line. Business directories are a great form of targeted advertising.

Google has some great suggestions you can do to Optimize your listing and lift your Google score to help users find your dealership. The third recommendation is my favorite…..

Include images and videos to help your listing stand out.

Can online directory listings increase my web traffic?

Knowing how many cars and R.O’s are coming from your preferred dealership listings is a reality many are tracking, in terms of where they rank and traffic. I’m really impressed with BDC directors that are aware that Yelp makes it pretty stinking ridiculous in terms of NOT allowing us to know which keyword was used before your vehicle prospect clicks to your Yelp listing, but I digress.

Listing your company and company URL on online review sites and directories not only helps your ROI, but can also help your website appear higher in search results for certain terms. The more quality web pages that you can get your site listed or mentioned in, the more authoritative Google will begin to think your website is. When Google chooses where your webpage will appear in search results, Page Rank (the authority of the webpage) is one of the factors that can significantly increase your chances or being ranked first, or at least on the first page, for a particular search term or phrase.

What does my dealership need to do now?

Claim your unclaimed listings!

It may take some time to find the right mix of directories to advertise your business in. Implement some sort of analytics or tracking system to see which directories are giving you the best return, either in click throughs to your site, in direct revenue, or in call volume. This could include using special tracking campaign links for online directories, or a unique phone numbers or URLs for print ads. Over time, cut the zero- or low-performing directories and re-invest in new ones until you find a good mix of print and online directories that perform well for your dealership.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that listing your company in directories isn’t just a one-time project. It needs to be maintained and your strategies adjusted based on what your competitors are doing, and based on your changing business goals. However, studies are proving the maintaining business directory listings as part of your marketing plan can be a profitable business strategy for your dealership.

I highly recommend ChatMeter and Yext if you need help with managing, optimizing, and monitoring your online listings.

Jerry Hart

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