With search results increasingly being driven by hyper-localized factors such as a user’s proximity (as derived from their mobile phone) to a business, it’s critical that you implement a strong, locally-minded SEO strategy to grow your business.
A properly optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing is the foundation of Local SEO. Proper setup and ongoing maintenance of your GMB listing will help you become a local authority in the eyes of search engines and real people — all while helping your business rise to the top of the results for local searches. Your improved local presence will help you succeed in your market not just in terms of SEO, but with your overall web traffic, leads — and ultimately — sales!
How to Optimize Google My Business for Automotive
While most aspects of Google My Business optimization are uniform throughout all industries, there are particular parts that work in different ways for specialized verticals, such as automotive retail. So, how do you optimize your business’ GMB profile? Let’s take a look at some tips that you as a car dealer can make sure you’re implementing for each of your rooftops:
1. Claim / Verify Your Listing: More than likely your dealership’s GMB listing is already secure and under your control. However, from time to time, a client does reach out to us asking how they can claim the listing for their dealership. This is a really important step, because if you haven’t claimed and verified your GMB listing, then you can’t get access to the suite of tools Google gives you to optimize your listing. This is the first step in properly optimizing your business’ Google My Business profile.
If you’re not sure if the listing for your dealership is verified, simply check the GMB Dashboard to see if your business already exists. If it does, and is unclaimed, you’ll be asked to verify details about your business. If it is claimed, you’ll have to request access.
2. Remove Duplicate Listings: Duplicate GMB listings can exist for your business for various reasons. If you don’t recognize there is more than one GMB listing for your dealership, there is the potential that all of the people searching for your dealership aren’t getting the fully optimized experience of your one true GMB listing. When you’re searching for your business in the GMB Dashboard, make sure any duplicate listings are removed and marked as non-existent or a duplicate of your business.
3 Check For NAP Consistency: Since you’re in the process of optimizing your GMB listing, now is a good time to check that your dealership’s Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) are consistent with what you have listed on your website.
The concept of NAP consistency is pretty simple. As Google crawls the web, it finds citations of your business on hundreds of different websites (including your own) that list your name, address and phone number. The idea here is that for each citation Google finds, there should be no abnormalities or differences in that information. When Google sees this consistency, the algorithm becomes more confident in your business entity and will displayit more confidently when prompted by users with related search queries.
You can start by making sure your dealership’s NAP is consistent between your website and GMB listing, and then move on to other websites like Facebook, DealerRater, Cars.com, Yelp, or any other local listing site that contains your dealership’s name, address and phone number.
4. GMB Categories:
Categories help identify the services your business offers, so that Google will show your listing when related queries are posed. Like all parts of your business’ GMB, categories affect local rankings.
Select a Primary Category that describes your whole business (i.e. “Chevrolet Dealer”) and then select Secondary Categories that give more insight into what your dealership offers.
5. Hours: Make sure that the proper hours of business operation are listed within your GMB profile. As these hours along with your NAP will populate on SERPs, it is critical that your hours are always correct and up to date.
#ProTip: You can also specify special holiday hours to let shoppers know that you have either extended hours (i.e. Black Friday) or will be closed on specific days (i.e. Christmas Day).
What do you do when your service department has separate hours from your sales department? Keep reading and we’ll give you the answer!
6. Add Website Links: Make use of both the Website and Menu URLs to direct users to certain priority pages on your site. These will also be seen on the SERPs where you GMB card populates. Use your homepage for the Website URL and link to an inventory page for your Menu URL.
7. Utilize UTM Codes: Before you paste in your Website and Menu URLs into your GMB listing, tag those links with UTM codes. This will allow you and/or your SEO service provider to better track the data and traffic that comes through your GMB. Specify within the UTM code which medium you want it applied to (i.e. Organic) and what campaign it is used for (i.e. googlemybusiness / gmbmenu / etc.).
#ProTip: Google has a handy URL builder you can use to quickly and easily create properly formatted UTM encoded links [Click Here]
A properly configured link with UTM parameters will look like a little something like this:
8. Create a Business Short Name: You can create a special short name for your business that will then give you the ability to share a direct link to your Google My Business listing. Short names should associate with your actual business and make use of a shortened version of your dealership’s name that people commonly use.
Once you know which short name you want to use for your dealership, simply navigate to the info menu located in your GMB Dashboard and you’ll find the short name field sandwiched between your dealership’s phone number and website address.
Now, you’ll be able to link people directly to your business listing using this syntax:
There’s no pressure here to come up with the perfect short name. Google allows you to modify it up to 3 times per year if needed.
Creating Additional GMB Listings For Service & Parts or Collision Departments
There was a time when Google didn’t want you to have a separate GMB listing for your dealership’s Sales, Service & Parts Department and/or Collision Center if these entities were all located at the same address. Thankfully Google has since changed their stance on multiple listings at the same address, and it’s now a best practice to separate your departments into multiple listings.
Along with your main Sales listing, GMB listings for Service/Parts and your Collision Center (if applicable) should be created. Depending on certain factors, how you set these listings up can vary. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Denote Location: If your Service and Parts Department is located within the dealership itself, then you’ll want to mark it a being “Located In” the dealership when you create it. This ensures that the hours for Service/Parts is displayed separately on your dealership’s main GMB listing. If your Service and Parts Department is located on the same property as your dealership, but is a separate facility with its own address, then you configure its GMB listing as an independent entity.
#ProTip: Remember — marking a Service/Parts listing as being “Located In” your dealership doesn’t prevent it from appearing in search results. It works to ensure the hours for your Service Department are properly reflected on your main GMB listing.
If you have a Collision Center, keep the same details in mind here. Properly mark it as “Located In” if it’s not a separate brick-and-mortar location.
Now that you have GMB listings dedicated to your fixed ops department, don’t forget that you need to maintain them just as you would your main sales listing — specifically your core NAP information. Make sure the name, address, and phone number are consistent for both your Service/Parts listing and your Collision Center listing. Also, don’t forget to use UTM codes for your Website, Appointment, and Menu URLs
Lastly, don’t forget to use proper categories (combining categories for Service and Parts) but be sure not to duplicate them on the other listings. Meaning, if you have Service/Parts listings, your main Sales listings should not have “Auto repair shop” or “Auto parts shop” categories. No overlapping!
Further Ways to Expand Your GMB Presence
Aside from aligning with basic best practices for initial setup, it pays to further expand your profile beyond the basics. Here are some key features in the Google My Business Dashboard that you can make use of to grow your dealership’s presence even more:
1. GMB Posts: Create Google Posts throughout the month that detail service coupons, new vehicle incentives, new model information, or special events happening at your dealership.
2. Add Photos & Videos: Making sure your business is well represented online includes the proper use of visual assets. Regularly adding new photos and videos (not commercials!) of your dealership — inside and out — will visually show users what to expect when they arrive at your dealership.
#ProTip: Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.
When uploading pictures via the Google My Business dashboard, you have the ability to upload a specific cover photo that will represent your dealership when your GMB listing is displayed in search results.
3. Q&A: Users can connect with your dealership in a number of ways, but Google took it a step further by allowing users to ask questions to be answered by you as a business owner or by previous visitors to your dealership.
The Q&A feature on your GMB profile is where these questions can be asked and answered. In addition, we recommend you proactively ask and answer your own questions in the Q&A section to give searchers a resource for frequently asked questions. Being active with your Q&A section will go a long way to building trust with shoppers before they drop in for a visit.
Meet the All-New Products Carousel
If you’ve been paying attention to Google My Business listings the past year or so, then you may have noticed some listings had a Products tab. Even though this section has been around for awhile, not every business had access to it due to it being a feature that Google was beta testing.
Well, I’m happy to report that the testing phase is complete, and the new Products tab should now be available for use in your Google My Business Dashboard. By utilizing the Products Editor you can create model overviews for each new vehicle in your lineup that include images, a description, category, price range, along with a direct link to a dedicated model landing page or vehicle search results page.
The best part is that the Products tab has high visibility in the SERP’s on both mobile and desktop experiences. By creating a complete and engaging Products catalog, you can catch a car shopper’s attention right from your GMB listing in the search results and start building a connection with them before they even land on your website.
Here are a few things we recommend you do when building out your Products catalog in GMB:
- Use model specific images sourced from your OEMs image asset library.
- Create a simple Category structure — Cars | Hybrids & Electrics (if applicable) | SUVs & Minivans — and assign to each model accordingly.
- Enter a Product Description for each model. This can be borrowed from your OEMs website, or you can create your own.
- Provide each model with a price range starting at the base trim and ending with the top of the line trim.
- Choose the appropriate CTA: Learn More, Get Offer, Buy, Order Online
- Use UTM codes for your individual product links so you can track engagement within Google Analytics
What Benefits Does GMB Bring Your Dealership?
We recently tracked the progress for eight of our car dealer clients for one year as we optimized and consistently updated their Google My Business listings.
When you optimize your dealership’s GMB listing, you’ll see many more results than just your business popping up for localized queries. Through proper GMB optimization, you can see increased website traffic, increased exposure for your business, and have access to better understanding of your market demographic.
The results are clear. Claiming, optimizing and maintaining your dealership’s Google My Business listing with all the tools made available to you should be one of the top marketing priorities from here on out.
How Does Dealer Inspire Help With Local SEO?
As part of our various SEO Packages, you’ll have Monthly GMB Maintenance and Monthly GMB Posts. Through these SEO efforts, we’ll make sure your listing is claimed, optimized, properly maintained, and we’ll also work to remove any duplicate listings we find so that your business stands out as it should. Through your two monthly posts, we’ll help push out information and new offers, specific model updates, services at your dealership, and more.
While certain aspects of GMB Management aren’t under our control, like adding new photos, managing customer reviews, and handling basic reputation management, that doesn’t mean we aren’t happy and willing to help you through the process! Our team is dedicated to providing you and your dealership with the best SEO services around, while sticking with best practices and constantly staying ahead of the curve, and that includes Local SEO and GMB Management.
Start Building a Stronger Business With Google My Business
Whether you take care of the work yourself, or get your SEO services through an innovative, hard-working, expert team like the one at Dealer Inspire — Google My Business is incredibly important for all businesses. GMB is becoming your new homepage. Make it strong. Make it better. Let us help your dealership further its online presence! We’re happy to work by your side every step of the way.