How to make Google work for you

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This MTD exclusive was provided by Dan MacDonald, freelance writer and former Vice President of Public Relations 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 [email protected] Website: www.maccomm.net

Have you googled your business lately? I hope so, because for a tire dealer, reputation is everything. If you give your customers great service they can trust, they will stay fiercely loyal to you and tell their friends about it. If you don’t, be careful! Customers who feel they have been poorly served will let others know.

Here are some online reviews that came up when I Googled a tire dealer in my area:

“Rude receptionist with terrible customer service. The team has very poor time management skills. You don’t deserve stars.

“I made an appointment and arrived 15 minutes early. Over an hour later, my car still wasn’t in the bay. When I asked about my car, she said she could return my car keys. I do not recommend this company.”

I don’t know about you, but reading reviews like these I would quickly look for another tire dealer. I suspect you would do the same.

The sale of automotive tires and services is a word-of-mouth business. Managing your online reputation should therefore be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy.

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

In fact, over 90% of consumers research and read customer reviews before visiting or using a business. Most trust online reviews written by people they don’t know as much as personal recommendations. Here are three reasons why Google Reviews are so important:

1. Google reviews improve local search rankings. Online reviews can improve your business’s search ranking. Knowing how to improve your search engine optimization is very important. If customers can’t find your business when they search, how can they make a purchase from you? Having lots of Google reviews helps you rank up and can land you on the first page of a Google search.

2. Google reviews increase trust. The vast majority of 18-34 year olds (91%) trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends if the reviews seem genuine and there are multiple positive reviews for the same business. And you shouldn’t ignore Yelp and Facebook. Yelp’s online reviews platform has more than 135 million unique users, and while geared toward restaurants, it offers categories for nearly every industry, including tires and auto services. And with nearly 1.4 billion monthly active users, Facebook is an online review site to be reckoned with.

3. Google reviews influence purchasing decisions.
Positive online reviews can provide exactly the validation that consumers are looking for when making a choice. Google uses a five-star rating system. If your business has a low star rating or lots of recent negative Google reviews, customers might be turned off. Experts say 3.3 is the minimum number of stars 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. It’s free. Just go to Google and type “Google my business”. A link will appear. You then fill in the requested information. It’s easy and only takes a few minutes.

2. Make your ad stand out. After updating your Google business listing, make sure it’s compelling and filled with relevant information that will draw people in. Your business description should include all the information about your dealership that customers might find relevant, including the brands of tires you sell, the special services you offer, and your competitive advantages, such as having ASE-certified technicians. Include up-to-date hours of operation. Download high resolution photos. Google found that listings with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions from Google Maps and 35% more clicks 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 of 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 a text or email with a link to your Google reviews page so they can just click the link and write a review. Make it easy for them.

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

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