- More than 95% of your dealership’s potential sales are delivered to you as a result of online research.
- Local search accounts for 46% of Google searches, and 4 out of 5 consumers consider it to be their primary means of getting information about, or contacting a business.
- It’s also estimated a business’s GMB is the preferred resource for 64% of Google users. And those numbers keep tracking upwards.
This paints a pretty clear picture of how important your dealership’s Google My Business listing is. Now, what if I told you that those statistics pre-date March 2020 and the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis? With the increased reliance on connectivity in recent months, your online presence more important then ever…and your GMB is their first stop.
Welcome to Google My Business
This is where you create and edit your dealership’s GMB listings to reflect all of the information that you want prospective customers to see. And by “prospective customers” we mean prospective car buyers, as well as service and parts customers. So, let’s talk listings….
What are Your Options for GMB Listings?
When it comes to your listing options Google sets them based on your dealership’s business model. If you’re a franchised dealer, you’re allowed (i) a primary SALES department listing for EACH of the brands you offer (ii) a singular SERVICE listing and (iii) a singular PARTS listing. Independent dealers, however, are limited to a single sales listing UNLESS they have a dedicated service department.
And Google is pretty smart. They’ll link your various listings together based on your location. But creating your GMB listings is just the beginning…
Which is the Right GMB Category for Your Dealership?
To improve your dealership’s chances of ranking higher in local search you’ll need optimize each listing by selecting the right business ‘category’. What’s the ‘right’ category? Well, it’s different for each dealership based on their business model, geography and their overall marketing strategy.
If you’re a franchised dealer located in a competitive geography occupied by other “same-brand” dealerships, you’re competing against those dealers every time someone performs a brand-related search. To improve your chances of out-ranking them, you’ll want to specify the brand within your GMB category – which might look something like THIS:
However, franchised dealers that manage MULTIPLE brands (like a GM or FCA dealer) should only specify brands within each their individual SALES listings.
But what if you’re a franchised dealer located within a less competitive geography? If your dealership is the ONLY local option for a brand-related search, you don’t have the same level of competition. Based on your dealership’s name ALONE you’re likely to be favored in local brand searches. Your biggest competition is probably going to be on the used vehicle front – coming from other local dealerships, regardless of brand. So, adjust your category accordingly to focus on THAT element of your business, and you increase your chances of capturing a wider share of local car buyers.
What Additional GMB Categories Should Your Dealership Use?
Once you’ve established your primary category, you can select up to 9 other categories within each listing. Your choices should reflect the various elements of your sales, service and parts operations that you want to rank for. For example, your sales listing might include:
- Car Dealer
- “Brand” Dealer
- Used Car Dealer
- Used Truck Dealer
- Car Leasing Service
- Car Finance and Loan Company
When it comes to your Service listing, you’ll want to focus on the most popular services that people are likely to search for…then include other common services, as they apply to the services you offer. The top recommendations?
- Auto Repair Shop
- Auto Tune Up Service
- Car Repair and Maintenance
- Truck Repair Shop
- Oil Change Service
But, depending on the service YOU offer, you might also consider:
- Brake Shop
- Wheel Alignment Service
- Transmission Shop
- Car Inspection Station
- Auto Electrical Service
- Auto Radiator Repair Service
- Auto Air Conditioning Service
You can take the same approach when it comes to your Parts listing, with some of the top recommendations being:
- Auto Parts Store
- Car Accessories Store
- Car Battery Store
- Truck Parts Supplier
- Racing Car Parts Store
- Auto Body Parts Supplier
- Muffler Shop
- Truck Accessories Store
- Auto Sunroof Shop
Now, if only there was a way to know which categories your competitors have chosen.
What GMB Categories Are Your Competitors Using?
There’s a big difference between competing and copying, but it’s always good to understand where your competitors are focusing their efforts. When it comes to GMB categories, you can see ANY dealership’s primary category right there on their GMB listing. But remember, they also get to select additional categories which you CAN’T see. Here’s how you find out what those ‘hidden listings’ are.
First, pull up a competitors GMB listing. Copy their PRIMARY category as it appears. Now, right-click on their GMB and select ‘View Page Source’ to pull up the programming code. Don’t be intimidated, you won’t get sucked into The Matrix. Just activate the ‘Search’ function by hitting Control-F (if you’re on a PC) or Command-F (if you’re on a MAC).
Now paste that primary category into the search field, and you can see each time THAT category appears within the code. The first TWO times it comes up it will be associated with reviews, so skip right to its THIRD appearance. Directly afterwards- you’ll find any other categories they’ve selected.
Maybe they’re categories that you WANT to rank in, and maybe they’re NOT…but better safe than sorry. Now remember when we mentioned recent updates that could be working against you? Listen up…
What if Your GMB Department Listings are Overriding Your Primary Listing?
Following recent updates, many dealerships have found that their nested department listings were outranking their primary SALES listing in brand search results. Fortunately, a relatively easy fix has been discovered.
You’ll need to distinguish your primary listing from department listings in four specific places. Make sure that each has a unique:
- Direct phone number
- Website URL
In addition, be sure to remove your dealership name from your departmental listings, and focus on the brand itself. You can make these changes in your GMB Dashboard under Department Listing.
5 Steps Your Dealership Needs to Take to Optimize Your GMB
- Understand the GMB Listing options available to your dealership.
- Select the proper category and configure it based on your business model and geography.
- Select additional categories to help each listing rank higher.
- Compare your categories against those of key competitors, adjusting as needed, and…
- Make sure that your department listings are properly configured, so nested rankings don’t outrank your primary listing.
These 5 simple steps can help you to better optimize your dealership’s GMB profile for local search while we all continue to work towards some sense of normalcy.