Disclaimer: In November 2021, Google changed the name of Google My Business (GMB) to Google Business Profile (GBP). Since its initial publishing, this content has been updated to reflect that change.
Why are Google Business Profiles Important to My Dealership?
According to a recent report more than 2/3 of prospective customers will seek out your dealership’s Google Business Profile (or GBP) for your contact information, rather than visiting your website. According to the same study, nearly ⅓ of those customers EXPECT the information in your GBP to be complete, correct and up-to-date at all times – an expectation we feel has only grown over the last 18 months.
Your GBP listing is more than just an informational tool for customers; it also plays a critical role in helping your dealership to outrank your local competitors in local search. This makes GBP a cornerstone of any comprehensive SEO strategy.
So, now that we’ve covered why Google Business Profiles are important to your dealership – we’re going to talk about:
1. How to create or claim a GBP listing.
2. How to navigate your Google Business Profile dashboard.
3. What listing options are available to your dealership.
4. What the right business categories are for your dealership.
5. How to distinguish nested department listings from one another as well as…
6. Additional features to help optimize any GBP listing.
How To Create / Claim Your GBP
Verifying a Google Business Profile listing is relatively simple but first you’ll need to know if that listing is being created or claimed. Doing so will determine how you go about verifying it with Google.
Creating a Listing
When you are creating a Google Business Profile you’re going to want to:
1. Navigate to google.com/business.
2. Select “Add a Business”.
3. Fill out all of the information pertinent to the desired listing, then…
4. Select your verification method.
The standard verification method is a physical postcard that Google will send to your dealership address within a week, or so. That card will contain a 5-digit PIN and the instruction to visit google.com/verifymybusiness.
Log in, enter the PIN, hit Submit and you will have verified your newly created listing.
There is also a phone verification option. Here, the 5-digit PIN will be provided by an automated system which calls the phone number specified for that GBP. From here, the steps are largely the same – However, if you choose to verify by phone, be aware that Google’s automated system might not cooperate with your dealership’s automated phone menu. You might need to deactivate your system until the verification is complete.
But regardless of which verification method you choose, remember…until you’ve entered that PIN, the status of your brand-new listing will remain ‘Pending Verification’.
But what if a listing already exists?
Claiming a Listing
This is the method you’ll use if the department you’re trying to nest already exists in Google Business Profile and Google Maps. You’d simply…
1. Navigate to the department on Google Maps, and
2. Click “Claim this Business”
Depending on when that listing was last managed, one of two things can happen.
Ideally, you’ll be able to verify the listing using either the postcard or phone method we just discussed, however…
If someone has been managing the location recently, Google will send an email to the last user they see as having “owned” the location. That user can either confirm or deny you access, but if they don’t respond for 3 days, Google will allow you to proceed, using either the postcard or phone verification method.
Contested access by an unknown source can be tricky to deal with, and will involve you opening up a ticket with Google Support.
Navigating Your Google Business Profile Dashboard
Welcome to your GBP dashboard. Here you can make edits to your listing, or further optimize it using the wealth of tools that Google provides you with. We’ll be discussing some of those tools further in just a bit, but here’s a quick summary of what you can expect to see:
1. Your Homescreen. This will where Google will communicate the status of your listing, and any steps you might want to take.
2. Posts allow you to share announcements and news to your customers by posting updates to your Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.
3. Info is where you facilitate any changes to your dealership’s name, address, business categories, service area, hours, or contact information. BE THOROUGH.
4. Insights is where you can find useful info to increase your customer base. With simple analytics, see how you compare to other dealerships, how many customers find you, and how they engage with you.
5. Reviews is where you show your customers that you’re listening, by replying to reviews.
6. Messages allows you to answer customer questions directly and promptly.
7. Photos help to showcase your dealership to prospective customers, and…
8. Users allows you to manage the administrators for your listing.
Familiarize yourself with your dashboard early on, and it’ll be easier to facilitate edits and optimizations along the way.
What Listing Options are Available to Your Dealership?
Now that you know how to create, claim and view a listing – let’s talk about the various listings your dealership needs. Every dealership is different in terms of the services offered onsite. Yours should have a separate GBP listings or each of the following, if they apply to you:
Body Shop / Collision Center
In-House Insurance Agency (EX. On-site Allstate agent)
In-House Rental Agency (EX. On-site Enterprise that is publicly available)
EV Charging Station (Unless specifically indicated by client that this is not for public use)
Public Car Wash
If a single rooftop dealership serves multiple franchise brands then the Sales (Main), Service, and Parts GBPs should be further split, creating one for each brand. There should also be a main Sales GBP for the business as a whole that reflects all brands. The only exception? CDJR dealers, for which the brands stay grouped together for Service and Parts. We’ll talk more about how to properly nest your department listings in just a bit, but let’s return to your dashboard so we can talk about Business Categories.
How to Name Each Listing
Under the Info tab of your dashboard, you can click on the pencil tool to edit the name of each listing. Be sure that each is 65 characters or less, and follows the appropriate naming convention.
Sales: [DEALERSHIP NAME] [BRAND]
Service: [BRAND(s)] Service Center
Parts: [BRAND(s)] Parts Center
Collision Center / Body Shop: [BUSINESS NAME] Collision Center / Body Shop
In-House Insurance Agency: [AGENCY NAME] Auto Insurance at [BUSINESS NAME]
In-House Rental Car Agency: [RENTAL NAME] Rental Cars at [BUSINESS NAME]
EV Charging Station: EV Charging Station at [DEALERSHIP NAME]
Commercial Trucks: [BRAND] Commercial Truck Sales
Remember, you’re not trying to recreate your business with a spin towards the department services, you’re trying to make sure Google is able to tell that this is a separate department, but one that’s PART of your business.
What are the Right Business Categories for My Dealership
When a prospective car buyer, service or parts customer performs a local search query, Google can recommend you with confidence if you specify the right business categories within your GBP listing. It’s easy to do.
Under the Info tab of your dashboard, you’ll see the ‘Category’ field directly below the Listing name.
Click on the pencil tool to edit. Here you’ll gain access to both your Primary and Additional business categories.
As they apply to your dealership, the Primary Category for each listing should be:
Sales: [BRAND] dealer
Service: Auto Repair Shop
Parts: Auto Parts Store
Body Shop / Collision Center: Auto Body Shop
Commercial Truck Dealer: Dump Truck Dealer
In-House Insurance Agency: Auto Insurance Agency
In-House Rental Car Agency: Car Rental Agency
EV Charging Station: Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Car Wash: Car Wash
Below your Primary Category, you’ll see ‘Additional Categories’ and link to ‘Add Category’. Not all listings require additional categories, but Sales, Service, Parts & Body Shop listings should – and you can add up to 9. We recommend the following:
For Sales, add:
Used car dealer
Used truck dealer
Car leasing service
Car finance and loan company
Car accessories store
Truck accessories store
For Service, you should consider:
Car repair and maintenance
Oil change service
Car inspection station
Truck repair shop
Wheel alignment service
Auto air conditioning service
For Parts, common choices are:
Auto parts market
Car battery storeTruck parts supplier
Car accessories store
Auto parts manufacturer
Truck accessories store
Auto body parts supplier
And for Body Shop / Collision Center, you may want to include:
Auto glass shop
Auto machine shop
Auto dent removal
How to Distinguish Nested Department Listings
You’ll need to distinguish your primary listing from department listings in four specific places. Make sure that each listing has:
1. Unique Name
2. Unique Primary Category
3. Unique Direct Phone Number, and
4. Unique Website URL
And this is IMPORTANT: when it comes to nested department listings, be sure to remove your dealership name, and focus on the BRAND itself.
So, you’ve set up each of your dealership’s department listings properly. You’ve entered in the category information that allows Google to better understand each listing, and you’ve entered in all the pertinent information prospective customers might be looking for. Now, you can further enhance your listings.
What are Additional Features to Optimize My GMB Listing?
When logged onto your GBP dashboard, you’ll have access to a number of tools that can make your GBP listing one of the most impactful items in your marketing toolbox. Today, we’re going to touch on two in particular.
By including the right images in your dealership’s GBP you can create a strong first impression. Feature both exterior and interior shots. Focus on providing a truthful representation of what customers can expect to see. Make the images representative of the atmosphere within each department. Showcase your team. Provide helpful signage and desk images, so customers know what to look for. These are all helpful to customers, and valuable in the eyes of Google.
Questions & Answers
Ultimately, Google’s Question & Answers section is crowd-sourced information, meaning that anyone can ask questions, anyone can answer them, and anyone can upvote those answers, helping them to show more prominently. And it doesn’t matter if those answers are correct, or not.
Rule #1: Monitor your Q&A section and answer any questions that are asked.
Rule #2: Upvote those answers, recruiting others to do so if needed.
Rule #3: Use the Q&A section proactively, by asking common questions prospective customers might have, answering those questions correctly, and upvoting them as well.
There are endless nuances, and managing your various listings can be incredibly time-consuming. That said, the payoff for proper management is incalculable; so whether you’re attempting to handle it in-house or working with a service provider, STAY ON TOP OF IT.