Google Places Star Counts Impact Direct Website Traffic

Google Places ReviewsWe all know by now that at the end of July, Google changed how they calculate star counts on Google Places.  (see previous post)

Dealers that relied heavily on,, or saw their review counts drop drastically toward the end of July.

I have been encouraging dealers to post review on Google Places because it will increase referral traffic to their website and increase calls.  Some dealers are skeptical just how important Google Places is to their overall website traffic.  Others are skeptical if posting reviews directly on Google Places makes an impact.

I finally have some direct proof that focusing your attention on customer reviews has a major impact on consumers clicking through to your website from Google Places.

The term Zero Moment of Truth refers to the digital “scorecard” consumers see prior to selecting a product or service online.  For dealers, Google Places reviews play a major part of the ZMOT experience. For the dealer in this case study, Google Places shows over 40,000 times a month.

If you have been lackadaisical on adding reviews each month to Google Places, this is your wakeup call.

When Referral Traffic Dropped 86%

I am sharing the Google Places analytics for a dealer in the period from June 1st  through September  16th in the graph below.  Notice that over this period of time, the number of impressions have stayed basically the same.  However, there was a big drop in “actions” when the dealer’s star counts dropped from 275 to 3 when Google changed their algorithm.

So let’s dig deeper and look at traffic in June and then we will look at traffic in the last 30 days.  In June, the dealer had over 275 reviews in their star counts, primarily from  In August, their review “star” count dropped to 3.  Notice the BIG difference in referral traffic in the two graphs below:

June Traffic and Actions

Last 30 Days

The Big Drop Defined

In the month of June, this dealer had over 275 starred reviews and it resulted in 3,176 clicks through to their website.

In the last 30 days, with 3 reviews this dealer had 429 clicks through to their website.

Lost Google Places Traffic

This is an 86% drop in referral traffic and the impressions stayed basically the same.   So if anyone is NOT taking their Google Places account seriously, here is the data.

To get 2,747 replacement visitors would cost you over $6,000 in pay-per-click or $72,000 a year.  Is the effort to get reviews posted by your customers worth it?  You decide.

The more reviews you have on Google Places, the more FREE traffic you will generate to your website.  This makes a strong case to immediately implement an in-store review process using the Google Places app.  Once this dealer gets their review counts over 275 using Google Places App, their high referral traffic will return.  For a store of this size, this can be fixed in a short period of time.

 What Are You Waiting For?

If you have been holding off implementing on in-store Google Places review process, this data should light a fire under your ass.

Choose if you want to leverage Google Places to drive free traffic to your website or drive traffic to your competitors.

If you need help, give us a call.

I hope to see many dealers at Internet Battle Plan 7 in Park Ridge New Jersey on October 5-7th and at the Driving Sales Executive Summit on October 9-11th.

Brian Pasch CEO of PCG  

Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing

Text PCGedu to 75674 get information on our upcoming conferences

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

Internet Star Alignment Determines The Success Of Your Business

Internet Star AlignmentToday, I was reminded how important Internet Star Alignment (ISA) is becoming for any business marketing and branding strategy.

In fact you could say from the viewpoint of an Internet astrologist, the ISA for some businesses are aligned to grow their profits while others are aligned to bring them pain.

How is your Internet Star Alignment?

Before you think that I lost my mind and have jumped into metaphysical search engine optimization (MSEO), read on.

Google Socializing The Web Using Stars

Compelling arguments have been made supporting the new requirements for business owners to have an active Internet Reputation Management (IRM) process. This post includes a visual confirmation as well.

Today, my search engine results page (SERP) for a local business name was filled with “stars”, These stars are not there by accident; Google is socializing search results.

Google is rewarding consumers who volunteer their time to post reviews. It created the Google Places App to make it easy to post a review.  Google empowers consumers by giving them the ability to associate star counts for any business.

As a side note, all business owners should be using Google Places App when their customers are visiting their place of business.  It’s much easier to get a review when you are face to face with a satisfied customer that already has a Google or YouTube account.  The review process takes less than 60 seconds.

Google is also rewarding business owners who encourage customer reviews with Google Boost.  Business owners can use Google Boost to create pay-per-click ads with their “star” counts prominently displayed.

Google Marketplace includes stars showing for e-commerce vendors who advertise their products using Adwords.  The two Adwords ads shown on the right column are e-commerce vendors that are proud of their star alignment.

Google Page One Is Star Struck

The web has gone to the stars! In the screenshot below, there are five sections of the page that are integrated with consumer review stars.

How does your Google Page One look when you type in your business name?

Search Results and Stars

Your ISA Impacts All Advertising Dollars

I’ve said this in the past and it is worth repeating. Your online reviews impact your past, current, and future advertising dollars.

Since your business name is a very popular search that brings consumers to your website every day, what appears on Google Page One is doing one of two things.

It’s reinforcing a positive brand message or it’s negatively impacting new customers that are considering your brand. For some business owners, what appears on Page One is helping their competitors.  If the reviews are bad, they will quickly move to the next business shown on the SERP.

So whether these reviews are displayed on Google Places, or on dedicated review websites reviews are influencing your local market.  Your stars are either attracting new customers or making them run to your competitors.

In the case of Circle BMW, these reviews are very positive and consumers seeing 143 reviews on DealerRater with a 5 Star rating is a strong statement.

Businesses that have STRONG online reviews posted on Google, I encourage them to start testing Google Boost, which can advertising their business and include positive reviews on Google Places.

So, take a minute today to Google your exact business name and sit back and play the role of an undecided consumer.

Would they call you or visit your business based on your Internet Star Alignment?

Need Help?

If you need help with your online review strategy, send a member of your team to Chicago this coming weekend. They will get everything they need to align your stars and significantly improve your online image. Flights to the major cities that we are holding the PCG Pit Stop tour are inexpensive.

Get signed up today:



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