Google My Business (GMB) Guideline Updates: You’re Not a Business, Man
“I’m not a businessman/I’m a business, maaaaaan.”
On Kanye West’s 2005 album Late Registration, Jay-Z rapped the line above, which would quickly become a part of the pop culture lexicon. Appearing as Gary Vee-style motivational quotes, in the Instagram bios of 14 year olds flipping sneakers, and, I’m sad to say, on my Grandmother’s Facebook wall after she sold a bunch of crocheted “Kitten Mittens” on Etsy, the line was co-opted by anyone who had made a dime outside of a paycheque. Honestly, when Jay-Z said it, it was clever. The rest of you aren’t businesses, and you certainly aren’t Jay-Z.
Google Knows You’re Not a Business
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: not only is Google constantly working to improve the user’s experience, but it’s also much smarter than we give it credit for. It knows what GMB (Google My Business) listings are businesses, and which are people. As a dealership lead generator (sounds better than car salesman, no?) you are an integral part of the business, but you are not the business. Ditto for subprime finance companies, that operate within a dealership. Google would consider that lead generation within the dealership, not the dealership itself. So please, don’t create your own personal GMB listing. Google knows that you work for a company, and are not (in most cases) the company itself. Also, I’m pretty sure if we asked, Google could confidently tell us that you are, in fact, not Jay-Z.
So Who Can Have Their Own GMB Listing?
A recent update to the GMB Guideline is clear—or about as clear as Google gets—on when a person can have their own GMB listing, and when they can’t. “Practitioners,” or public-facing professionals (e.g. doctors, lawyers, financial agents, essentially anyone with a couple of fancy extra letters attached to their name), can create their own listing in the event that they:
- operate in a public-facing role, or
- are available for direct contact at the listing’s verified location, during business hours.
Even then, a single practitioner shouldn’t have multiple listings for multiple specializations (so if you provide both oil changes and tire swaps, those should not have separate listings). But with this update, Google has specified that “Sales associates or lead generation agents for corporations aren’t individual practitioners, and aren’t eligible for a listing.” Cut and dry. That means no individual salespeople or special sales teams within the dealership, no lead generators like subprime finance or leasing specialists, no service advisors, nada. Just the business, man.
What’s the Harm?
The reality is, not only does having multiple listings mean a ton of upkeep, but it could have a negative impact on the business itself. Because one day Google is going to see listings for ‘Gary from Gary Moe Volkswagen,’ ‘Moe from Gary Moe Volkswagen,’ and ‘Gary Moe Volkswagen,’ and could delete or suspend two of the three accounts that it assumes are duplicates—at which point no amount of name brand recognition will save you. In fact, one of my colleagues just finished dealing with this for a client, and will have a case study on this at a later date. Jay-Z might’ve had a song called “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” but my guess is he’d be smarter than opening up multiple listings when Google told him not to.
Additionally, you are potentially losing out on great customer testimonials that should have gone to your primary dealership listing, but instead went to the individual salesperson’s listing. Sure, they were the primary person helping the customer, but we all know it takes a strong team to get the wheels over the curb, not just one person. And if that salesperson leaves your dealership, you best believe that they’re taking all of those customer testimonials to whatever dealership they land at next. All of your marketing dollars and effort that may have helped get the customer through your doors are now following Moe along to one of your competitors. You may have “99 Problems” at your dealership, but vehicles you’ve already sold shouldn’t be one of them.
Sometimes the simplest path is the best, and this is one of those instances. Save yourself the headache of having to verify or re-verify your account. Save yourself the trouble of constantly updating multiple listings. Save yourself the trouble of losing customers or customer reviews that you earned. Create one listing for your dealership, and you’ll reap the long-term benefits of playing by Google’s rules. Now get out on the floor, you’ve got leads to generate.