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Thursday, January 15, 2015

F&R Auto Sales in Westport, MA and the Lessons of Reputation Management

The news about F & R Auto Sales in Westport, Massachusetts is still pretty fresh, but I suspect the backlash over their highly-publicized treatment of a local pizza delivery driver Jarrid Tansey will sink the business in the coming weeks/months.

In case you haven't hear the news yet, several employees at the car dealership appeared on security camera video belittling and harassing the driver over, wait for it...a $7 tip. Apparently the staff tipped Tansey approximately $7 on an order just over $42. They called Palace Pizza afterward and indicated they wanted their change. Upon returning to the dealership, Tansey returned the $7 as they requested, but the story didn't finish with him taking the high road. The dealership staff verbally harassed him, wanting to call the pizza shop to get him fired, and at one point a staff member can even be heard saying she would "put my foot in your ass".

In a moment of bad judgment, someone from the dealership thought the exchange was funny enough to upload to YouTube. That decision, along with the other decisions (calling the driver to return the tip money and harassing him when he returned) are not exactly inconsequential. Not only do local residents (i.e. car shoppers) now get a glimpse into who these dealership employees really are, but the video has gone viral and put the dealership on the international stage for the whole world to see exactly how rude they are.

Reputation management has become an important segment of a car dealer's list of things to worry about. Review sites such as Yelp! are popping up everywhere, and when something bad happens to a customer, they often take to these review sites to express their displeasure. Smart dealerships address customer complaints in the same public forum they are lodged. This shows other potential customers that the dealership truly wants customers to have a good experience, and that they want to work with people to make them happy whenever possible. I don't think there's any amount of reputation management that can help this dealer. I suspect they'll change their business name very soon to help mitigate some of the public backlash. As of the time this post is being written, there are around 2500 reviews on Google, over 1700 on Yelp!, their Facebook page has been taken down, and obviously most of the reviews are one star or otherwise negative.

Lesson: If you're going to do something stupid, don't upload the video of you doing that thing, and certainly don't expect it to help business. RIP F & R Auto Sales. At least we have a video to remember you by:

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

How Long Will It Take for a Website to be Indexed by Google?

We receive this question almost daily. People build a nice new website and know it's important to be ranked high in the search engines, but how can someone tell how long it's actually going to take?

Google and other search engines have complex algorithms which determine what site gets ranked first (and second, third, etc.) for any particular search. The search engines don't inform the public of what they use to rank sites because let's face it, if they did, everybody would be ranked #1 for whatever they wanted, and it would detract from the relevance of the results. Imagine searching for a new car dealer and the first 20 pages of results were for credit card offers. If that were the case, not many people would use the search engine anymore because it doesn't give them the results they expect.

The truth is, there are too many factors to consider when trying to figure out how long it will take a site to be indexed by a search engine. Sometimes our clients sign up for a website and if they have unrealistic expectations, they'll call us a week after their site goes live and ask why they aren't the #1 search result for "used cars". At the time of writing this post, that search yields more than 235 million results on Google, so why should ABC Autos be #1 out of 235 million?

Our best advice is to be patient, while at the same time ensuring the site is set up to be indexed as best as possible. This means you should have a sitemap to help the search engines find every page of your site. Do you have content on your pages? A website with no content is pretty much worthless, therefore the search engines won't rank it very high. After all, the crawlers "read" the content to help determine what the site is all about so they know when to include it in their search results. The site should also follow some standard guidelines. Google has made available a very handy document for beginners which can be found here.

With a little patience and using documented strategies (and likewise avoiding similarly documented "bad" strategies), you can typically have a site indexed within a month or two, and over time the ranking will increase for keywords that your site targets.