Think all 5 star automobile dealership ratings on Google are created equal? Think again.
Unfortunately, it seems some dealerships are relying on fake reviews, or to put it more nicely, paid sponsored reviews on their Google Places pages. If at this point you’re wondering if paid / canned reviews are permissible, no they are not, unless the person posting the review makes their relationship to the business or product they are reviewing known. The FCC as well as Google have stated as much.
Here’s an example of how to spot a fake / sponsored review.
This person seems like they must be a fan of Jim! Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear likely that they actually visited this store, much less purchased a vehicle from this dealer. How can you tell? Start by clicking on the Google use name. Doing so will open up a new Google Places page that will show you all of the reviews left by that Google account:
Does it seem logical that this Google user left reviews for two dealerships thanking them for a great purchase as well as reviewing a two different locations for the a tavern, and a day spa… all in the same week? Assuming you gave this automobile dealer the benefit of the doubt on the example above and said it may just be a coincidence, you might also then want to check out other reviewers on their Google Place page. Dealers that have fake reviews posted seem to have lots of fake reviews posted. Here’s another Google user that left reviews on the sale dealership’s place page as “Serenity”:
Notice the similarities in the reviewed locations here to the first example? It seems there’s plenty of businesses out there that are relying on false Google reviews to project a more positive online reputation for their dealerships. Just imagine what they could accomplish if they invested the same amount of time and resources into a REAL online reputation management plan instead of one that relies on deception.
Have something to say about the prevalence of fake Google Places reviews for automobile dealerships in your area? I’d love to hear your feedback.