This week’s Wednesday Workshop shares 6 tips to help make your reviews better in 2017. I’ve been doing a lot of SEO audits with our NADA follow-ups, and we’ve seen a disturbing trend – lots of dealers are faking their reviews! We talk about fake reviews in this week’s video, and share several tips to help make your reviews more awesome (and help you avoid penalties or even hefty fines!). Watch the video for all the info…

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn. Most of you may not know – I write a monthly column for Search Engine Land, the largest news website for the search industry. So make sure you keep an eye out and read my stuff, cause it’s awesome…

But anyway, my last post talked about reviews, and I really wanted to share the ideas I talked about here on this week’s Wednesday Workshop.

I’ve been doing a ton of SEO audits lately, following up with dealers we talked to at NADA, and I’m seeing a really disturbing trend. I’m seeing more and more dealers cheating on their reviews.

Now, this has always been a problem – Google’s even come out and publicly said that out of every industry out there, car dealers are the worst for fake reviews… but it seems like lately it’s worse than ever.

So, in my post on Search Engine Land, I shared 6 tips to help people make their reviews better in 2017. Not only will you look better to potential customers, you’ll avoid potential problems from spam filters or penalties, or even massive fines for breaking federal laws.

Tip Number One – It’s not natural behavior for customers to leave a review that mentions your sales staff by name. Sure, you might get a few here and there if you’re really providing phenomenal service, but it doesn’t happen all the time. In every review. And it NEVER happens that customers will mention a staff member by first and last name. And they’ll definitely not mention two staff members by first and last name.

When you see that most of a dealership’s reviews mention people by first and last name, one of two things are happening. One – the reviews are fake, or two – your staff is telling people what to write in reviews. Either way, you’re going against Google’s terms of service, and you’re breaking FTC law.

This usually happens when a dealership spiffs the sales team for getting a review to show up with their name in it. Owners and GMs think it’s a great plan cause it’ll help get more reviews – but the sales guys see it as free money and just fake reviews… OR, they tell customers what they need to write. Bad news bears.

Tip number 2 – too many reviews can be a bad thing. Yes, we all want to see that you’ve got a good score, and that you’ve got more reviews than your competitor. The problem comes when you have too many more reviews…

If you have exponentially more reviews – as in more than 5 or 10 times your closest competitor, it looks fake. Even if your reviews are all legit, people will simply assume you’re faking reviews, cause it’s not natural to have THAT MANY more reviews than a competitor.

Facebook even breaks down the number of different reviews at each star rating, so if you ARE faking or influencing reviews, that discrepancy is even more obvious.

Suddenly, your big review push that’s supposed to bring more customers is actually scaring customers away.

Tip 3. Don’t collect reviews on site. Google flat out says in its official review guidelines:

If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.

Reviews are supposed to be left by the customer later, after they’ve purchased and left. Reviews that mostly come from a single location run a risk of at minimum, getting filtered out – or at worst, causing a penalty.

Yelp will even warn customers if all of your reviews come from your location. How many customers will be scared away if they go to your help page and see a massive red-outlined alert box that covers your content?

Tip number 4 – Don’t let employees leave reviews. It should be common sense, but we see it all the time. It’s against the rules – plus, it just makes you look desperate.

Tip number 5 – Don’t limit replies to negative reviews. If you leave responses to positive reviews as well, it shows you care about your customers, and it gives people warm fuzzies.

And tip 6 – bad replies make bad reviews even worse. You aren’t leaving a response for the person who wrote the bad review – you’re leaving it for everyone else who reads that review, so they can see how you dealt with the situation.

Responses should be short, well-written, and to the point. Long rambling responses, responses that don’t actually address the complaint, or canned responses will do more harm than good. At best, you look lazy – and at worst, you look like you don’t care.

And please – don’t let your rep management provider paste the same generic response to every review, only changing the name of the person they’re responding to. You’re better off not replying at all.

And a final note – if you’re consistently getting bad reviews, please take a look at your processes and figure out what you’re doing wrong. One random bad review that says your service department sucks could just be some dude having a bad day, but 5 reviews in 2 months saying the same thing means you definitely have a problem.

Hopefully these tips gave you some insight into the right way to do reviews and reputation management. As always, if you’ve got questions or comments, leave ‘em down below and we’ll get back to you shortly with a reply. Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you again next week for another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn.