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Going Beyond Google

The Key Habits Of Winning Dealerships

Just as a healthy diet can’t rely on a single food group, neither can your reviews strategy. Lately, with Google’s increased emphasis on reviews in the SERP, too many dealerships have focused solely on collecting Google reviews. They can be easy to get, populate the map pack, and help score some SEO points — so what’s wrong with that? 

Well, the quality of the reviews matters — a 5-star story is more impactful than just a 5-star rating — and 72% of consumers say it’s important to check your reputation on multiple review platforms to feel comfortable making a decision1.  

Let’s break it down.



While there’s no denying the power of Google, relying solely on Google reviews is a disservice to the customer experience and reputation you’ve worked hard to build. Despite their search power, Google reviews often lack the substance and context shoppers need to make decisions. 70% of shoppers look for reviews with length and detail2 to guide their decision-making, and Google fails to deliver.

*Analysis of a sampling of 259,537 Google reviews over six-month period ending Feb 21, 2021.

1. BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Study 2020
2. BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Study 2020

With little content beyond stars, it’s important to ask if Google reviews are selling the full value of your dealership. Take a look at the last two weeks’ worth of Google reviews about your store — are they telling your dealership story?  Do they feature your unique team and unique customer experience?

Since Google doesn’t require a minimum word count or give customers the ability to tag employees they did business with, Google ratings don’t always have the context buyers need to take the next step. Stars alone fail to convey a “why buy” message, leaving shoppers to dig deeper to understand what’s behind the ratings. This is why it is so critical to cast a wide net when collecting reviews and focus on various platforms, especially automotive websites where consumers turn to navigate the buying process.



Just as there are health risks to eating McDonald’s for every meal, you can see the danger in relying on Google for every review. It’s time to balance these out with the reviews equivalent of superfoods: high-quality, long-form content that maximizes the customer’s opportunity to tell your dealership’s story. That’s what we specialize in at DealerRater. We’re passionate about making sure your dealership’s story is being told on our platform (and beyond) through the voice of your customer. 

We know reviews that contain more content, and specific details about the experience and staff, are more useful to shoppers. Those types of reviews give customers the confidence to decide where to buy and who to work with. That’s why we encourage customers to “tell your story” rather than just “rate your experience.” DealerRater and are the only dealership review platforms to require a 25-word minimum for review collection.

*DealerRater analysis of a sampling of 259,537 Google reviews over a six-month period
ending Feb 21, 2021.

Beyond minimum word counts, we’ve built our platform on a few fundamentals that enhance review quality and ensure the content we collect is valuable for fellow shoppers and your dealership.



1The car business is still a people business

Cars are still bought and sold between two people, and your sales staff is what sets your store apart from all others. That’s why we allow reviewers to “tag” and rate the employees they did business with. This drives your team’s accountability for providing a great experience and helps future shoppers decide who they want to work with. 

Knowing 98% of shoppers want to choose their sales person3, we also offer tools to make that an easier process online. With Salesperson Connect™, your top-rated employee profiles and ratings can be added to your inventory on DealerRater,, and your Dealer Inspire website, giving your shoppers the ability to select the person they’d like to work with and making them more likely to show up and make a purchase.

3. Survey of 17,981 car buyers on, Oct 2018

4. Based on VDP lead submissions between Jan 2019 – Feb 2020

2Experience isn’t one-dimensional

There are so many factors that go into the car buying experience, from price and product selection to the friendliness of your staff and the cleanliness of your showroom. A simplistic star rating can’t begin to provide enough insight into the factors that drove a positive or negative experience. Instead of just one category, we collect ratings for Pricing, Quality of Service, Friendliness, and more.

3A picture is worth a thousand words

It’s cliche for a reason: images really do speak volumes, especially when they are of your happy customers. Review requests sent through our LotShot app provide customers with a branded photo to easily display alongside their review.

76% of customers consider reviews with
photos more helpful than those without.

“Car Shoppers are Judging You.” White Paper, February 2017.



In addition to quality content, it’s also important to balance your reviews presence across the most visited sites, social media platforms, and search engines. While it’s true Google only counts its own reviews into the map and local pack, reviews across other sites still impact where you land in search results. 

Google your dealership’s name: what do you see? Chances are your dealership’s profile page on DealerRater appears on the first page of results. 

You also don’t want to forget Bing!, which now accounts for more than a third of PC searches in the US5. Bing! features Facebook reviews and also shows your star rating from sites across the web like DealerRater and Yelp. This is yet another reason you need to collect reviews across a variety of sites.

Collecting a well-balanced blend of reviews across platforms doesn’t have to be complicated. Our ReviewBuilder™ technology syncs with your DMS to automatically solicit reviews from each day’s customers through email or text, and then uses Smart Targeting℠ to distribute them across Google, Facebook, and DealerRater® so you can build a consistent reputation on the most influential platforms.

5. ComScore Data, March 2019

More than ever, shoppers are using reviews to discover dealerships and decide where to buy.  With many shoppers unwilling to drive from showroom to showroom, they use reviews to determine who will provide the best experience. Don’t count on Google alone to ensure your store makes their short list. By simply switching up your reviews diet, you’ll not only get found, but you’ll build a wealth of meaningful consumer content that can also help you get chosen.