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From the Trenches - Who Sank Your Google Reviews?


We work hard to get good customer reviews.  Our customer service and satisfaction are extremely high.  We are a 5-Star dealership.  But yesterday or last night, my dealership lost hard-earned reviews from Google Places.  There is one left and no stars. These were, each and every one of them, legit reviews.

I have a suspect.  I consulted my friends Ralph Paglia, Scott Falcone, and Keith Shetterly.  Keith asked if I had made any changes to our Google Places page.  I didn't make any recent changes to Google Places, BUT... a little less than a week ago, Cobalt decided we needed a Google Places page that pointed to their website.  We have two websites and Cobalt, as mandated by GM, is our secondary site. They copied our Google Places page completely and put one up with a link to our secondary site belonging to Cobalt.

At that time, when I looked for our Places page in Google, it was gone from the top of the first page.  I finally found it half way down the third page... but it directed people to our Cobalt site instead of our main site.  When I tried to edit it as "Business Owner", it said it was not my account.

I logged into our Places account and everything was as it should be.  I then called Cobalt and demanded that they rectify the situation.  They apparently corrected the situation and the next day we were back where we should be.

Yesterday, all but one of our reviews disappeared and when I search for our company, Google Places is gone again.  When I search on and find the page, it is again directed to the Cobalt site.

Hmmm, I've been investigating and most of our direct same-brand competitors have been ripped as well, and coincidentally, they have two sites with Cobalt being their secondary site....  all reviews before a certain date (when Cobalt screwed around) are gone.

A connection?  What do you think? I am furious! Can anyone corroborate this with a similar experience?


Written by Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community


Views: 2233

Tags: Customer, Google, Places, SEO, reviews


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Comment by Tyson Gamblin on March 5, 2012 at 1:22pm

Since this is a google bug... I guess I am out 198 reviews and waiting for them to fix their bug, I really don't like this

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 5, 2012 at 1:18pm

@VJ - I just did resubmit my page.  It was as I left it before.  The correct web address was still there which to me means a duplicate page was created.  Hmmm, our main site outperforms our Cobalt site so it would seem the logical choice if Google were choosing websites for us.  I still see a smoking gun and it's still pointing the same direction.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 5, 2012 at 1:09pm

@ VJ:  Thank you!  It's a Google Bug.

@ All:  Okay, did I just read that there is some kind of contract and policies involving iMR data and Google/Google Places?  Why in the world does that exist??  Is somebody making a monkey out of us?

Comment by VJ on March 5, 2012 at 12:59pm

@Keith, @Brian, @Tyson and everyone else participating here - iMR or Cobalt did not create a 2nd GP page(s), and even so a dealer had a claimed and verified business on their GP's - Google decided (for whatever reason) to overwrite and feed in the iMR information. Even so it was not suppose to do these changes according to the contracts and policies in place. It is definitively a Google Bug and Google will have to fix it. 

Comment by John Brown on March 5, 2012 at 12:56pm

@VJ, thanks for the comment. Should we consider this Cobalt's official response to this blog, as I know there were several comments, one being mine, that wanted to hear Cobalt's side of the story.
Also, have you been in touch with the author, Tom Gorham? Tom is a customer of yours and made a complaint. Has he been satisfied?

Comment by Brian Pasch on March 5, 2012 at 12:54pm

Here is a summary of what I am seeing. Since Cobalt was not involved according to AJ, then General Motors must have provided Google with a dealer of OEM authorized websites and gave some type of "permission" to overwrite the dealer's information. 

Since VJ said that this is not a Cobalt action, then dealers must escalate this to their Dealer Advisory Boards and find out how the "official" list of websites were provided and why this took precedence over the dealer's choice of website providers.



Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 5, 2012 at 12:22pm

@ VJ:  "@ Keith - as I know Keith the issue shows up on many verticals all over Google Places. There was even a dentist who suddenly was listed as an Insurance Agency, and I doubt the DDS has a side job"

That didn't answer my question that was specific:  Did the Cobalt iMR folks, or any other Cobalt folks, mistakenly create a 2nd GP for Tom's dealership?  

The follow-up to that is that I am seeing this reported at dealers across the country, and it has threads from here to  So it's not a small issue.


Comment by Brian Pasch on March 5, 2012 at 12:16pm

@ VJ

Your answer does not explain how an existing listing changes in only two places.  The TK Carsites URL is changed to Cobalt and the categories are changed. Why would Google pick Cobalt over TK?  It was not a new listing that was created by Google. 

Comment by Tyson Gamblin on March 5, 2012 at 12:15pm

@VJ what is Cobalt's views about the strange categories set up for all Chevrolet Dealers that myself and @Brian have brought up?  

Comment by VJ on March 5, 2012 at 12:13pm

@Tom - please resubmit your business in the Google Places dashboard. Make sure you point your chosen link to your desired URL as well.

@Keith - as I know Keith the issue shows up on many verticals all over Google Places. There was even a dentist who suddenly was listed as an Insurance Agency, and I doubt the DDS has a side job. 

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