Changes To Google Places Confirmed by Avni Shah

As I reported yesterday, Google has stopped including 3rd Party Review counts into their yellow stars.  There was some disagreement if this change was permanent, and today we see that it is.

The product manager for Google Local had this to say in an article posted on TechCrunch

Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we’ve heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages.

Rating and review counts reflect only those that have been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we’re continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.

Changes Are Here To Stay

So there you have it, so it looks like this is here to stay.  So like all changes, we adapt and adjust our strategy.

In-store IRM process like Google Places App and PrestoReviews is your best way to maximize the face to face advantage.

Then through cards, emails, and adjustments to communication channels, you can build post sale, at home review process.

The number of consumers that have GMAIL accounts will be growing, since Android activations are at 550,000 a day.  I estimate that 20-25% of dealership clients  today will have a Gmail account or associated business account.   Those numbers will be increasing.

Jumpstarting Google Reviews

Dealers can get a jump start on this recent change in Google Places by searching their DMS for Gmail accounts, and sending them a special email encouraging them to assist your dealership with this change in Places.  It will not fix any large drop in reviews, but its an easy way to jump start things.

Implementing an in-store process is critical and most effective to collect authentic reviews.  Once you have these reviews, you can syndicate them on your blogs and platforms like also provide an SEO benefit.

Dealers should be considering adding banners and desktop tent cards throughout the dealership to increase the feedback about the customer experience at the store.  The signage starts conversations that can turn into in-store review compliance.

Anyone who needs help in this area, can call.

Google Changes Review Star Count Policy

Change once again is rocking the automotive digital marketing world as Google today drops the third party review counts from its yellow stars. ONLY 22 reviews directly posted on Google Places are showing.

This screen shot of BMW of Scherville showed all the DealerRater reviews last week in their star counts but not today.

This is what their Google Places account looked like last week:

Google Review Counts

This change is impacting all BMW dealers in Chicago, see below:

You Must Have An In-Store IRM Process

I’ve been coaching dealers to start using the Google Places App on their iPhones and iPads to increase directly posted reviews. The benefit? The dealer can use Google Boost to spice up their PPC strategy.  Boost is an up and coming strategic advantage which we have been discussing with clients.

I also warned dealers that if Google every dropped the review “counts” from the stars from 3rd parties, they would be better protected by having a direct Google Places posting strategy.

Now keep in mind, Google is still showing the counts from third parties in brackets, but the keep metric is that the yellow stars are what always show and not always do the consolidated reviews show.

I am not saying that 3rd party review sites are not IMPORTANT, they are.  It is just that the MOST visible aspect of Google Places and SERP results is the yellow stars.  Secondly, there is not way to predict which 3rd party sites will show up in the brackets underneath the listing.

A Tsunami of Change

Action Toyota has over 1,227 reviews posted on DealerRater but they only have 10 reviews directly posted on Google Places. A few weeks ago I saw their Google listing and it showed over 1,000 reviews with their stars. That is now history!

In fact, Google is not even showing all of their reviews from as shown below:


In-Store IRM Processes and Training

Dealers looking for direction on how to best adapt to these changes should start an in store reputation management process that include using 3G iPads and iPhone devices.

Dealers must set processes to identify consumers with Google accounts while they are in the dealership. 550,000 Android devices are activated a DAY and all have Google Accounts. Google empowered consumers can post reviews directly on Google Places, with their account, from a mobile device.

I told dealers this day would come and today is that day. If you need help with in store training, processes, and strategy on reputation management, give me a call. I’m here to help. We have the strategy and solutions.

Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing

Google Offers Free Internet Reputation Management Tools

Google has always enabled you to track what people say about you online with Google Alerts but they have now made it easier for anyone to track their online reputation with a new tool in the Google Dashboard called “Me on the Web“.

The new set of tools makes it easier for anyone to see what is posted on the web using their name. The dashboard also has features that include “How to Remove Unwanted Content” which will assist companies dealing with their online reputation management.

“If you find content online–say, your telephone number or an embarrassing photo of you–that you don’t want to appear online, first determine whether you or someone else controls the content. For example, if the photo you want to hide is part of your Picasa account, you can simply change your photo visibility settings. If, however, the unwanted content resides on a site or page you don’t control, you can follow our tips on removing personal information from the web and removing a page from Google’s search results.”

The Google Accounts dashboard, shown below, has the “Me on the Web” summary and helpful links:


To access this feature, login to your Google Account Dashboard and it will be active. The start of this product is a clear signal to any business that Internet Reputation Management is a mandatory business process that should be part the standard operation procedures for any business.

If your business needs assistance with Online Reputation Management, give our team a call to discuss our winning strategies for building your brand message online.


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