Two weeks ago we did a blog post on the importance of managing your online reviews such as ones on your Google My Business Listing. After some feedback and seeing that some dealers were having issues with optimizing their My Business Listing, we thought it would be helpful to walk through some ways to optimize your listing, or if you haven't set one up already (very important), how to do so.
Appearing at the top of Google search results can be expensive, competitive, and hard. But as a local car dealer, you have something significant going for you: your pool of competition is much smaller than the ones national and international brands have to deal with.
Your website doesn’t need to be found by everyone; you just need to be found by the people who live in your community. If you get that right, the results can be significant. Half of consumers that do a local search on their smartphone end up visiting a store they found there that same day.
In local searches like your own, users get plenty of information on those top three choices right away – they can see both how other customers have rated each of them and exactly how far away they are. For most consumers, that’s enough information to make a decision and head out, without ever bothering to scroll further down.
For local businesses, that means that while making sure your website is optimized for search engines matters, making sure that your Google My Business Listing is optimized can be of even more important.
So without further ado, here is how to set up and optimize your Google My Business Listing:
1. Set up your Google Business Listing (if you haven’t yet).
The first step is to set up (or claim) your Google My Business Listing. Go to Google’s My Business page and click “Start Now” in the upper left corner. Then fill in every relevant field that Google offers. You want to make sure the profile is as complete as possible and that every piece of information is accurate.
2. Choose a relevant, specific category.
The category you choose will help Google decide which searches your local listing belongs in. You have to choose from the list of available categories, you can’t create your own. Fortunately there are several types of listing under the automotive section that include both your sales and service departments. Some dealers opt to create a separate listing for their service department, however this is not always necessary and may risk you being suspended (more about that below).
3. Load quality, high-resolution images.
Photos help your listing to stand out and give potential customers a glimpse of what to expect. Show shoppers your lot, showroom, service waiting areas, and even your service lane.
Some Google approved photographers will even set up a virtual tour of your dealership, but to be honest, usually some good photos will do the trick. According to Google, listings that have photos generate twice as much interest as those without.
4. Make sure your information matches everywhere else.
One thing Google’s algorithm looks at to verify the legitimacy of a listing is a consistency in how it’s listed across different websites. While that seems simple enough – your address is the same each time you enter it somewhere – it’s easy for little differences to slip in. Maybe you wrote out the Road part of the street name one time, and shortened it to Rd another time, for instance.
Pick a standard way to write out your address, a consistent phone number to use, and make sure all your listings match both each other and the information you provide on your website.
5. Use a local number.
In addition to keeping your phone number consistent between your different listings, it’s also important to use a phone number with a local area code. That’s one extra signal to Google that you are actually local. Make sure the number you use for your Google My Business listing is also displayed somewhere on your home page or whatever landing page you link to from your Google listing.
6. Avoid penalty-inducing offenses.
Any work you do to optimize your website or local listing will be for naught if you incur a penalty. Google suspends business listings for a range of offenses. Getting suspended is stressful, confusing, and bad for business, so it’s best to avoid doing anything that puts you at risk of it.
Read through Google’s guidelines for Google My Business listings so you have a full understanding of what not to do. Some of the main things to avoid are:
- Using a URL that redirects to your website’s URL, rather than the actual URL itself.
- Trying to awkwardly add keywords into your business name field.
- Having multiple local listings for the same business location.
- Using any address for your business that isn’t a physical storefront or office space where you meet with customers.
Use common sense and don’t try to play the system or get extra listings and you’ll probably stay on the right side of Google.
7. Encourage reviews.
You’ll notice that the local businesses listed in the map snippet of a local search usually have star ratings next to their name. Google wants to provide the most useful information to its users, and users want to find the nearby business that seems the best. In both cases, it benefits your business to have a high star rating.
Again, in our previous blog post we list how to encourage positive reviews and how to handle the negatives that you may or may not get along the way. If you would like to read that post you can find the link below.
I hope that this post has been helpful for you in setting up your Google My Business Listing. If you have any questions about Google My Business, or would like to speak to an Edifice Representative about receiving a Free Market Study, click the "Learn More" button below. If there is anything you would like to see on the blog in the future, use the comment section below and your suggestion may appear on the blog.