The auto industry in the U.S. began a resurgence in 2011, and that trend is expected to accelerate in 2012, according to a recent article by Kelsey Mays, resident industry analyst at  In fact, many analysts have predicted that sales of new vehicles in 2012 will reach between 13.6 and 13.8 million units, up from 12.8 million units in 2011.

That also makes 2012 the year of the dealer – and because 97% of automotive shoppers are influenced by online research during the purchase process1, it’s more important than ever that dealers are actively managing their presence and differentiating themselves online.

1. Get listed.

Automotive shoppers consult an average of 18.2 online sources during the purchase process1.  How does your store show up?  In addition to investing in a strong presence on third-party shopping sites like, check to see that you’ve claimed your listings in business directories and review sites, such as and Google Places.

  • Tip: Do a search for your business on, which scores how well your business shows up in common search engines, business directories and review sites.

2. Get accurate.

Test phone numbers, e-mail addresses and URLs and check to make sure your company description and hours of operation are current in all the places your business is listed.  Also, do a search for your business on social media sites, including Facebook, Google+ and check for profiles falsely representing your business.  Rules for having these profiles removed vary by platform, but being aware of them is an important part of understanding how your business shows up online.

3. Get reviewed. 

With 91 percent of car shoppers saying they would use reviews when deciding on a dealership2, good customer feedback has become one of the most effective ways to influence purchasing decisions. Managing your online reputation with Dealer Reviews gives you the power to differentiate your dealership and your inventory to score more engagement from car shoppers.  Also, be sure you’re optimizing your presence in the other places shoppers read your reviews, including Google Places and other review sites.

1 Google/Shopper Sciences, Zero Moment of Truth Industry Studies, U.S., April 2011

2 DriverSide/Kelton Research Study, April 2011