Online Reviews and Google Places More Important Than Ever for Dealers

As I was watching Google's innovations around it's Places and consumer reviews with searches for restaurants, dry cleaners, and other “local searches”, I was  wondering how long it would take for Google to begin experimenting with car searches.

The image below shows how Google has gone beyond the 3, 7 or 10 Places box insertion in the search results and has inserted the Places listings with review information within and throughout the standard search results.

"Chinese Restaurant" Search Results from Google

The good and bad news for car dealers is that the Google experimentation has begun for our industry as well.  Following below you'll see a snapshot of a Google search result for the automotive search term of “used Toyota trucks (city)”.  Notice how the Places listings along with the overall star rating is peppered throughout the standard search results.  For the dealer in first place, congratulations for being in first, but what impact will that lowly two star rating have on the clickthrough rate for your listing?

google results with places listings

Google is also experimenting by placing the Places listings at the top in the 3, 7, or 10 listing manner, but without the Places box so that they appear to be the standard search results.  See image below.

place listings top of goole search results

Google's use and application of Places results and reviews mixed in with the standard listings has caused more work for digital marketers, and more concern for car dealers.  Now you not only have to work hard to be number one, but you also have to make certain that you are reviewed in a positive light.

For now these results are only showing on select search terms, but, Google has been expanding its use of this technique and I believe we'll see these results for more and more search queries.  If this trend continues, a top ranking without good reviews will be of little benefit.  Dealers need to make managing their online reputations a priority now.