Big news for dealerships: Google Places has removed its 3rd party reviews from the first page of Google Maps. In other words: they no longer aggregate ratings and reviews from other sites and display on the first page. Dealers may find that as of yesterday, the new rating on Google may only be a “1” versus the 400 they had as aggregated from one or more of the rating sites. Aggregated ratings are still available on the web and discreetly located on the 2nd page of Google Maps, but this is a tough break for Dealerships who focus their reputation efforts on driving ratings and reviews only to certain dealer-specific sites. This form of reputation management was a big business model for several vendors who positioned their company as a reputation management solution.
This move from Google reaffirms the MARKIT Group approach to online reputation management. Dealers should view their overall reputation as a reputation “pie” which has pieces made up of the various rating and review sites and sources, both on and off the web. This approach allows a holistic, comprehensive strategy which must be reviewed and addressed on an ongoing basis. Google will remain king of search, but attention must be given to where your lead traffic comes from – make sure your individual and online brand reputation score reflects a positive impression.
The images enclosed illustrate the point. This dealer example, which used to have 104 ratings from DealerRater, now show one rating. Google will only count actual Google user ratings on the first search. Very interesting move.
How do you think this change on Google’s part will affect rating sites overall? Will it change your current strategy? How do you think DealerRater, Edmunds, Cars.com, Women-Drivers.com and other major rating and review sites feel about the change?