Google Places and Dealership Reviews

We all know by now that at the end of July, Google changed how they calculate star counts on Google Places. 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. Fortunately, 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” (ZMOT) 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 Percent


I am sharing the Google Places analytics for a dealer in the period from June first through September sixteenth in the graph below. Notice that over this period of time, the number of impressions stayed basically the same. There was a big drop in "actions," however, 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 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 three. 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, however, with three reviews this dealer had only 429 clicks through to their website.


This is an 86 percent 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 dollars in pay-per-click or 72,000 dollars 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 an in-store Google Places review process, this data should light a fire under you to create a process to capture the value of your satisfied customers.


Brian Pasch is the CEO of PCG Digital Marketing. For more information, please call732-672-2356 or visit





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