Industry News Management

How to Make Google Work for You

Take Control of Your Online Profile

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This MTD exclusive was provided by Dan MacDonald, a freelance writer and former public relations vice president for Bridgestone Americas Inc. Dan founded MacDonald Communications, which focuses on public relations and digital marketing. He can be reached at (615) 681-5387 or dan@ maccomm.net. Website: www.maccomm.net

Have you Googled your business lately? I hope so, because for a tire dealership, reputation is everything. If you give customers great service they can trust, they will stay fiercely loyal to you and tell their friends. If you don’t, watch out! Customers who feel like they have been underserved will let others know.

Here are a couple online reviews that popped up when I Googled a tire dealership in my area:

“Rude receptionist with terrible customer service. Team has very poor time management skills. You deserve no stars.”

“Booked an appointment and got there 15 minutes early. More than one hour later my car was still not in the bay. When I asked about my car, she said she could give me my car keys back. I do not recommend this business.”

I don’t know about you, but reading reviews like these would have me quickly looking for another tire dealership. I suspect you would do the same.

Selling tires and automotive service is a word-of-mouth business, so managing your online reputation must be central to your digital marketing strategy.

In the customer’s mind, you are what people say you are online. Today, online reviews play a huge role in whether a consumer chooses to buy from a business.

In fact, more than 90% of consumers seek out and read customer reviews prior to visiting or using a business. Most trust online reviews written by people they do not know just as much as they trust personal recommendations. Here are three reasons why Google reviews are so important:

1. Google reviews improve local search ranking. Online reviews can boost your company’s search ranking. Knowing how to improve your search engine optimization is very important. If customers can’t find your business when they’re searching, how can they possibly make a purchase from you? Having a lot of Google reviews helps drive you up in the ranking and can put you on page one of a Google search.

2. Google reviews increase trust. The vast majority of 18-to 34-year-olds (91%) trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends if the reviews sound authentic and there are multiple positive reviews for the same business. And you should not ignore Yelp and Facebook. Yelp’s online review platform has more than 135 million unique users and while tilted towards restaurants, it provides categories for almost every sector, including tires and automotive service. And with nearly 1.4 billion monthly active users, Facebook is an online review site to be reckoned with.

3. Google reviews influence purchase decisions. Positive online reviews can give just the validation consumers are looking for when making a choice. Google uses a five-star rating system. If your business has a low star rating or a lot of recent negative Google reviews, customers could be turned off. Experts say 3.3 is the minimum star rating that a business should have.

Here are three key steps to getting more Google reviews for your dealership:

1. Claim ownership of your Google business listing. The first thing you need to do is claim your Google business listing. This is free. Just go to Google and type “Google my business.” A link will pop up. You then fill in the requested information. It’s easy and only takes a few minutes.

2. Make your listing stand out. After you update your Google business listing, make sure it’s compelling and filled with relevant information that will entice searchers. Your business description should include all the information about your dealership that customers might find relevant, including the tire brands you sell, special services you offer and your competitive advantages, like having ASE-certified technicians. Include up-to-date hours of operation. Upload high-resolution photos. Google has found that listings featuring photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions from Google Maps and 35% more click-throughs to a business’ website.

3. Invite your customers to give you a review. After you’ve taken the time to optimize your Google business listing, start collecting reviews. Make a proactive effort to ask all your customers to write a Google review of your business. Studies show that 77% of customers are willing to provide a business review. Send customers either a text or email with a link to your Google review page so they can just click on the link and write a review. Make it easy for them.

Also explain to customers that their feedback helps you continually improve your service. Let them know their opinion matters. And send an invitation to all customers, not just loyalists. You want to instill a sense of authenticity and trust. 

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