GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2018: FULL REVIEW

think auto screen

June 21st has come and gone, and yet another Google Think Auto conference is in the books. Moving this hotly anticipated event from September to June was a solid choice by the Google team — can you blame us for thinking that? We live in Edmonton where it’s winter 10 months of the year and we were dying for some warm weather! Continue reading “GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2018: FULL REVIEW”

Personalize Your Google Experience

Female hand holding an ipad showing Google

Have you ever wondered why you see ads which are tailored to you on your favourite blog, or while you’re catching up on local news online? These are the ads found on the Google ad network, and all the millions of websites and apps that partner with Google. This network is made up of Google services like Search, YouTube, and Gmail, and is borderline-omnipresent (we’re happy as long as they don’t change their name to Skynet). But did you know that you can personalize this information, telling Google what you do and don’t want to see? Continue reading “Personalize Your Google Experience”

Google Think Auto 2018: A Quick Recap

Google Think Auto - Toronto Centre for the Arts, June 21, 2018
Google Think Auto – Toronto Centre for the Arts, June 21, 2018

June 21st was not only the summer solstice, it was also the day of Google’s 2018 Think Auto event. The scenery was a little different from the usual September setting, but we weren’t about to complain about the hot weather. Held at the Toronto Centre for the Arts for a second year in a row, the Google auto team did not disappoint with this year’s round of stats and insights! Continue reading “Google Think Auto 2018: A Quick Recap”

How To Avoid Scammers

Scam sign

We’ve all had it happen to us at one point in our lives; a deal too good to be true, a stranger that was just too nice. And there is a name for those people scammers! Scammers have been around for a long time, and will continue to operate in their shady ways if there are people and businesses around to scam. Often, if you have an online business, these scammers appear in the form of 3rd party companies claiming to be from Google and claiming they can improve your search ranking (or offer services that Google already provides for free).  Not only is this frustrating for small business owners, but Google isn’t too happy about it either. Continue reading “How To Avoid Scammers”

Businesses, It’s Time to Go APE Over Google My Business’ New API!

Monkey going ape over Google API

Google’s omnipresent HAL9000-esque eye is trained on all things mobile these days, and when it noticed that local search on mobile devices is growing faster than mobile search overall, well, you better believe gears started turning. In response to the remarkable 50 per-cent annual growth in mobile search Google’s been adding new features to its SERP Knowledge Panel and Google My Business (GMB).

And then, an announcement! Google is introducing a new GMB Application Programming Interface (API). In tandem with this release, Google also revealed a new agency analytics dashboard and a new agency partner program. The API is designed to give agencies the ability to manage additional, diverse categories of business information, including merchant descriptions and Posts. For multilocational brands and small outfits alike, this new functionality promises greater control over a wide range of content. Continue reading “Businesses, It’s Time to Go APE Over Google My Business’ New API!”

It’s Evolving! Anticipated Changes in Google for 2018

changes in Google

Google is smarter than us. Not just smarter than you, not just smarter than me, but smarter than the collective us. And that is okay. It also means that it learns what works and what doesn’t and changes accordingly. Don’t be surprised by the changes Google makes — be prepared! Read on and learn about some of the anticipated changes in Google for 2018. Continue reading “It’s Evolving! Anticipated Changes in Google for 2018”

Spring Cleaning Your Citations

online citationsIt’s that most welcome time of year, once again: the time when the white stuff melts and reveals an entire season’s worth of underlying dust and grit. While most people will find themselves beating rugs and washing windows, folks in our industry (of the automotive persuasion) have a spring-cleaning list of an entirely different sort — I’m talking about a good seasonal scrub-down of your online citations on the worldwide web. This post aims to elaborate on the nature of online citations (and their functions), while giving some recommendations on what to optimize and where.

Citations: What on Earth are They?

Let’s build on the basics; online citations are essentially your business’ calling card across various online properties. In their most basic form, citations are understood to communicate the Name, Address and Phone number of your dealership, also commonly referred to as the NAP information (NAPW if the citation features website URL information too).

In addition to this, there are two forms of citation: structured citations and (surprise) unstructured citations. Structured citations refer to those that appear on well-known websites geared toward providing business information/listings in a directory-style format. The underpinning intention of this type of citation is to use straightforward, codified data that a SERP could easily pull onto a search results page. Unstructured citations, similar to name-dropping, are in-text citations that mention a business’ NAP information in a more casual format.

Why Online Citations Matter

Citations are of huge importance to your business; they’re a major aspect of the way in which your website ranks on a search engine results page. In fact, it’s estimated that citation-related items comprise nearly 13% of ranking-related factors in local SEO. Why is Google so hung-up on citations? Simple: Google requires verification, and your business listings need to be validated. Search engines are in the business of providing the best possible answer to an individual user’s query, and the veracity of the search results they serve up is a big point of concern.

Dealerships change names, have colloquial nicknames, move locations, and undergo major rebranding all the time. For Google, information like this is fluid and hard to verify on its own. Barring that ability, it’ll take the next best course of action and set about looking for third party validation of your citation. Essentially, this is Google checking up on your references – a quasi-background check, if you will.

When it comes to ranking your site for search purposes, Google employs a rubric based on relevance (how well does this search result satisfy the user’s ask?); distance/location (how close is this dealership to the user’s location?); and prominence (how well-known is your dealership?). Prominence, the last of these three factors, is estimated via Google’s assessment your business’ online and social reviews, as well as the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) that your website maintains over time.

Where Should I Have Citations?

Citations are divided into four tiers that rank in respect to their levels of importance and risk threshold (a measurement of the likelihood that the citation is fabricated or false):

  • Tier One Citations: These citations have widespread recognition, retain a high domain authority, and match user intent closely. They include major listings on sites like Facebook, Bing, Yelp YellowPages, and the Better Business Bureau. Also included are more industry-specific properties such as Autotrader, Kijiji, and official OEM websites. Risk threshold for tier one citations is low.
  • Tier Two Citations: Citations of this type still hold a significant amount of domain authority; user intent is still well matched to the information provided in the citation, though the properties on which they appear are less well-known. Here we’re talking citations that might appear on sites like DealerRater, Unhaggle and Reviewsii. While risk threshold is still low, it is still a degree of certainty removed from those in the first tier.
  • Tier Three Citations: Third-tier citations are low-quality. They’re generic and they exhibit poor SEO practices like keyword stuffing. They also lack the relevance of the preceding two tiers, have a high risk-threshold, and lack serious domain authority.
  • Tier Four Citations: These citations have little or no correlation to user intent, and almost zilch in the way of domain authority. You get the idea…

What to Tidy Up First?

Look, we’re all busy. Especially those of us in charge of the online efforts for our respective dealerships. While it’s crucial that your business’ online citations are consistent across the internet, we recognize that, given time constraints, you’ll want to tackle the most important elements first.

Work on eliminating inconsistencies. Ask yourself:

  • Do my Tier One and Two citations have the same local business phone-number? – Emphasis on local numbers, not call-tracking numbers (as tempting as that might be)
  • Do my citations feature the same Canada Post-approved version of my dealership’s address?
  • Is the name of my dealership consistent? – Did we rebrand recently? Do we have a local nickname? (We were Johnny Appleseed VW before, and now we’re just Appleseed VW; we better get on this…)

Inconsistencies at the base level (such as these might seem) can really harm your business’ ability to rank atop Google’s search results page. It’s important that they’re sorted out, and they’re easy to fix, so why not?

In short, it’s important to shore up the information that features on your Tier One and Two citations first. Scratch Google’s back by being as consistent and straightforward as possible, and it’ll repay the favour by ranking you at the top of it’s search results. Once you understand the function and importance of your online citations, it’s easy to see why it’s a good idea to be diligent in maintaining them. Spring cleaning isn’t only limited to scrubbing away the month’s old veneer of road salt that’s been slowly devouring your driveway or airing a winter’s-worth of farts out of your feather quilts. It’s a time for cleaning up your online presence as well. Interested in doing so? Get in touch with us to learn more about online citations.

The Key Benefits of Google’s Local Pack Ads

Think of the last time you were out and about and found yourself in need of a good or service. Maybe you weren’t familiar with the area or just wanted to find the closest location. Our first instinct is to Google the answer, and with the Local 4-Pack, you are able to see at a glance a map with a selection of results for your area. In just a few clicks, you are connected with hours, directions, contact information and reviews. Clicking through on any of these results or on the More Places link sends you through to a larger map of your area and a fuller listing of applicable results for your area.

Imagine you are a business owner and you want to drive foot traffic into your location. You have a Google My Business (GMB) listing, and keep it up to date and well maintained. You also have Google AdSense set up to run search and display ads and have them targeted to your local area. Now you are ready to take your advertising to the next level. By linking your GMB to your AdWords and enabling location extensions, you have the option to start advertising directly into these local search results.

First announced in 2016 and rolled out in various forms through 2017, Google’s Local Pack Ads (also known as Local Search Ads) have begun to effectively integrate themselves into online advertising. Oddly enough, while these have become increasingly popular in America, we are just starting to see these sorts of ads show up in the Canadian marketing scene.

Google touts Local Pack Ads as having 3 key benefits…

Google's Local Pack Ads

Increasing Visits to Your Business

This is can be an awesome advantage for restaurants and boutique shops that want to able to target the foot traffic in their area or a home service that needs to be accessed on a tight time frame. A lot of our shopping has moved online, and while this can be an amazing everyday convenience, it does have its limitations. While a customer might research a big ticket item online, at the end of the day, going into brick and mortar store can be necessary. When these kinds of purchases happen its important for your customers to know you are in their area and ready to serve. Being listed before organic listings can help ensure your business is getting the impressions that might otherwise be lost.

Encourages Communication with Convenient Contact Options

On both Mobile Search and the Google Maps App platforms, the local search results have prominent call buttons that allow the customer to easily contact your business from the search results page. Note that this call information is linked directly to your Google My Business Listing, so its vital that this information is up to date. Additionally, this information is not trackable through Google Analytics as you might assume after working with call extensions within AdWords. This information is instead available to track through your AdWords account under click attribution. While this option is not available on Desktop, those customers instead have the option to click through to your website’s home page. Clicking through the ad will bring them to your GMB Listing, which then makes contact information available.

One-Click Overview of Your Business

When the client clicks on your ad, instead of being automatically linked through to your website, it will open your Google Business Listing. It allows the customer to get an overview of your business at a glance. Your location, hours, starred reviews, and the map are shown, as well as sections for Q&A, peak hours, and photos. The option to click through to your website and get directions are also available. This is the chance for the customer to get to know more about your business, and in particular, how your business interacts with its community.

While what Google has to say is true, its important not to let the flash of a new advertising option run away with our imagination. Its still a relatively new feature, and there are some outstanding questions on how quality score and keywords effect ad auction and position. This is a great new opportunity, and they are uniquely positioned to reach customers that are lower in the purchasing funnel, like customers that know what they want or need, and are now looking for a place to purchase it. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these ads are in their element when it comes to businesses that are looking to capitalize on spur-of-the-moment transactions. It’s also important to remember that the success of Google’s Local Pack Ads hinges on the businesses interaction within their GMB account. Are the hours up to date; are reviews being replied to; are the questions being answered; are there recent photos and updates? You need to provide the customer with a good experience when they go to interact with your listing, because in some cases it might be the only online interaction they have with you.

At the end of the day, we should be viewing Google’s Local Pack Ads as a fantastic added feature, and not a new marketing strategy. If you already use both GMB and AdWords on a regular basis, it is a great opportunity to capture more advertising space in your immediate proximity. Interested in learning more about the benefits of Google’s Local Pack Ads? Get in touch with us at Strathcom to learn more.

If You Only Make One SEO Goal in 2018, It Should Be This

Most dealers are bewildered by the concept of search engine optimization, and it’s not hard to see why. SEO is a constantly changing landscape, and tactics that may have sat at the forefront long enough for them to learn about it are frequently relegated to the back bench no sooner than the dealers have gotten a full grasp of it. However, one thing about SEO has never been clearer:

seo-searcher-intent

Modern day SEO is all about user experience.

Continue reading “If You Only Make One SEO Goal in 2018, It Should Be This”

Automotive Conferences You Should Check Out in 2018

Group of people sitting in a row and applauding at conference.

 

Canadian International Auto Show

Toronto – February 16-25, 2018

AutoShow 2018 is excited present attendees with fast and furious opportunities and experience throughout this 10 day event! Continue reading “Automotive Conferences You Should Check Out in 2018”

Dealers Asked, Google Listened: Google’s 2017 Dealer Playbook

GOOGLE’S DEALER PLAYBOOK IS HERE!

2017 Dealer Playbook

If you attended any of the Google Think Dealer events this fall, you know that Canadian dealers have been asking for a step-by-step guide on how to advertise on Google for years, and it is finally available. Based on Canadian automotive data, whether you are a beginner looking to do the bare minimum, or a seasoned pro looking for how to stand out online, The Dealer Playbook breaks down exactly where you should be spending your marketing dollars. Continue reading “Dealers Asked, Google Listened: Google’s 2017 Dealer Playbook”

GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2017: FULL REVIEW

For those of you who enjoyed the brief highlight reel we released in September on Google Think Auto, here’s the full review. Enjoy!

Google Think Auto 2017

In September, we were fortunate enough to attend this year’s edition of Think Auto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The scenery of the event was different and so was the direction of the event. Instead of focusing on the four phases of the car buying journey, there was a ton of data presented on the the buyer’s persona. If you don’t remember what the four phases are, check out our 2016 recap of Think Auto for a good refresher. Continue reading “GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2017: FULL REVIEW”

Google Think Auto 2017: A Quick Recap

Google Think Auto 2017
Toronto Centre for the Arts, September 7, 2017

This past Thursday, we were fortunate enough to attend this year’s edition of Google Think Auto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Although the venue changed from the usual scene at Massey Hall and the direction of the event was slightly different by not having individual dealers out (check out our blog on the upcoming Think Dealer events!), the content was useful and provided a different perspective on our ever changing Canadian car buyer market. Continue reading “Google Think Auto 2017: A Quick Recap”

Think Dealer 2017 Events

Think Dealer 2017 Events

If you haven’t already heard, Google changed up their Think Auto event this year. Instead of bringing everyone across the country to the centre of the universe…Toronto… they decided to bring their wealth of knowledge across the country and host Think Dealer specific events in 5 cities between October 12th and November 9th. Lucky for us, we were still able to check out Think Auto and you can read up on our quick summary of the event here! Continue reading “Think Dealer 2017 Events”

Analytics Intelligence

Google Analytics is releasing an update that will make it much easier and quicker to find the data you need.  The new tool Google Analytics will be rolling out is called: Analytics Intelligence.  Analytics Intelligence will allow you to type in what it is you are looking for and give you those results. Instead of navigating through multiple sections within Analytics, you will now be able to type in questions like “How much traffic did CPC bring in this month compared to last?”, and it will quickly show you the answer.

Man working on a project in an office using a tablet; images of analytics intelligence graphs

Beyond answering your questions, Analytics Intelligence also shows new opportunities for you through automated insights, now available in the web interface as well as in the mobile app. These insights can show spikes or drops in metrics like Revenue or Session Duration, tipping you off to issues that you may need to investigate further. Insights may also present opportunities to improve key metrics by following specific recommendations.

To find out more about Analytics Intelligence, check out the complete article here!

Changes to Google’s testmysite Tool

No, you are not imagining things – Google’s testmysite tool has been given a bit of a face lift.

Google's testmysite tool

If you want a quick way to see how your site is performing on mobile, Google’s testmysite tool provides a quick overview. It can tell you in seconds if your website takes over 5 seconds to load (most people won’t even wait that long for a site to load), or if there are things you should fix to make your site more mobile friendly. Continue reading “Changes to Google’s testmysite Tool”

Advertising in the Age of Ad-DHD

People are busy. With work, family, social media, and a plethora of other distractions it is getting more and more difficult for advertisers to get people to notice their ads; let alone retain people’s attention long enough for their ad to actually be recalled. Think of it as a kind of ADHD… Ad-DHD.

As people's attention spans decrease, their ability to recall ads does too.

 

According to Google, users who watch ads for more than three seconds are more likely to recall, recognize and consider your brand. This may not sound like a long time, but to keep someone’s attention for more than 3 seconds is a lot more difficult in this day and age.

In a recent Google Livestream, Google talked about the new currency: time. Google also discussed how the Old Mantra was ‘get the customer to the dealership‘ and the new mantra is ‘bring the dealership to the customer‘. So, how can do you bring the dealership to the customer? Continue reading “Advertising in the Age of Ad-DHD”

3 Misconceptions About Ad Quality According to Google

In a recent edition of Google Best Practices they laid out the difference between auction-time quality and the 1-10 quality score. Regarding your quality score, here are 3 things that matter:

  1. The User’s Device
  2. Relevance
  3. Performance on Related Keywords

Hands typing on laptop computer - there are several misconceptions about quality score on Google

I don’t think that there is anyone out there that can argue that these factors do not effect your quality score. But here are some factors that, contrary to some opinions, do not matter: Continue reading “3 Misconceptions About Ad Quality According to Google”

Clarity on Conversions: what is actually being reported to you? Leads?

Do you know exactly what your online providers call a conversion? What they call a lead? If you cannot definitively answer that question it might be time to have a chat with them.  Although there seems to be endless oversight in the automotive industry, there is no industry standard for what we call a lead or a conversion.

hand holding mobile smart phone at blurred car for sale in showroom background

Most people would agree that a form completion, email, text, chat or clicks-to-call all represent a lead as a consumer is engaging directly with your business. Sounds fair. Continue reading “Clarity on Conversions: what is actually being reported to you? Leads?”

HeroConf 2017: Recap On 3 Days Of Non-Stop PPC

T-Shirt from HeroConf 2017 that says PPC Nerd

From April 17th-20th, I had the opportunity to attend one of the largest gatherings of PPC nerds in North America: HeroConf 2017 hosted in Los Angeles.  This was my first PPC conference and I had no idea what to expect, but I couldn’t have felt more at home at the conference among other people who live and breathe PPC.

It was a busy week filled with learning, networking, and free drinks. Despite all the fun, I came home excited to share my new knowledge with the Strathcom team. Here are my key takeaways about what to expect in the world of PPC in the future.

 

It’s Time to Move on From Last Click Attribution

Attribution Modeling was one of the hottest topics discussed at HeroConf. Speakers from all industries agreed that it’s time to ditch the last click model, and focus on other touchpoints that lead to a conversion. However, there is no magical way of knowing which model is right for you. Speaker Jeff Greenfield of C3 Metrics discussed the importance of not waiting around for the perfect model, but to test and test again. The only way to prove the value of attribution models is to test until you become less wrong. Attribution modelling is extremely important in the automotive industry as we move away from the standard sales funnel, to a customer journey with multiple touchpoints. By ignoring the touchpoints a customer reaches today, we may never see them again for another 3 years.

Integrate Your Paid Social & Paid Search Strategies

Continue reading “HeroConf 2017: Recap On 3 Days Of Non-Stop PPC”