Why is My Dealership Not Outranking My Competition in Search?

We all want to be number 1 at what we do, whether you’re LeBron James chasing down Michael Jordan, Nelly or a dealership outselling its competition. But it takes a lot of work to be number 1 in any field and outrank competitors, especially in the automotive industry, which always invites a healthy dose of competition.

You might assume it’s only your website that determines how well you rank in search (and sure, it does play a part), but there are a lot more factors that determine where your dealership lands in SERPs when you search for a business, question, keyword or phrase and why one dealership may outrank the other. Google’s algorithm attempts to follow what its users like best, and those users like consistent, groomed activity online. Consequently, Google also likes that same consistent, groomed activity on everything it can crawl or interact with, including everything from the technical SEO on your website, your Google My Business profile, citations and external links coming into your site.

Continue reading “Why is My Dealership Not Outranking My Competition in Search?”

Google My Business (GMB) Guideline Updates: You’re Not a Business, Man

An image of an Indian office worker with a blue shirt behind his desk

 

“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. 

old man in a suit gesturing

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:

  1. operate in a public-facing role, or
  2. 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.

You Ask, We Answer: Google My Business

map with google my business written and pin on top of map

Welcome back to another installment of “You Ask, We Answer!” (*intense music plays*). Because when you’ve got questions, we won’t rest until we find the answers. Well, there was that one time when one of the temps fell asleep while searching for the answer, but we doused them with a bottle of cold water–because that’s the type of intensity we bring to our webinars!

Today, we tapped our Lead Content Strategist, Google Local Guide, and moral beacon Melina Beeston to talk about Google My Business. Not only have we embedded the video below, but we’ve transcribed the whole damn thing (while I may subscribe to the infinite monkey theorem, it isn’t the best practise as a business).   Continue reading “You Ask, We Answer: Google My Business”

Optimizing your Dealership’s Online Presence with Google

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION CONCEPT

Fact: today’s car shoppers do most of their research online before even stepping foot in a dealership. So the older generation can complain about “those darn millennials being on their smartphones” all they like, but those smartphones are influencing their purchasing decisions. According to Google, the average car shopper visits two dealership websites when researching a new vehicle. That’s why it’s now more important than ever to be highly visible on Google in the competitive and complex car industry.  Many dealerships are multi-faceted, offering new and used cars as well as maintenance and repairs. It then only makes sense that their digital marketing strategy should equally be as dynamic—starting with an optimized online presence.  And, without further adieu *drumroll*, here’s a few tips to optimize your dealership’s online presence. Continue reading “Optimizing your Dealership’s Online Presence with Google”

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!”

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”

Google My Business

Google My BusinessThis week, Strathcom had the chance to tour Google’s new office in Waterloo as well as hear what Google has planned in the coming years by the head of Google Canada – Sam Sebastian – and also attend some training on Google products. As a Premier Google  Partner and the largest partner in the Canadian automotive space, we find this training invaluable. Getting information from the horse’s mouth allows us to keep our clients’ campaigns top performing, and gives us insight into new strategies we can use to progress them even further. Not to mention, we can ask about our clients’ pain points, and that brings me today’s blog topic: Google My Business.

Google My Business is not a product to be bought/sold, but it is a roadblock that all of our clients have to go through. Having a well maintained Google My Business account is vital for any business. People want to know where you are located, see photos of your business (show people that renovation you just invested $1,000,000 in, for example), what your phone number is, what time you open, what time you close etc., and Google is where they go to get this information; being a business owner, you want them to find, and you want it to be accurate. Most dealers have a Google My Business account, but it has sat dormant for a while. The information is wrong and no one knows the login to change it. Here are the steps to regain access to your existing Google My Business account so those potential customers out there can find you.

Step 1: Sign In To/Create Your Google Account.

Use the same email you think was used to originally create the account, if you don’t know, a general account should be used, not an individual employee’s personal account.

Google My Business - Sign In

 

Step 2: Search for Your Business.
Find your Google My Business account by clicking here and search your business name.

Google My Business - Search You Business

Step 3: Select Your Business or Add It.

Google My Business - Select Your Business

Step 4: Enter Your Business Details
Choose the “Car Dealer” category, fill out as much information as possible.

Google My Business - Enter Business Details

Step 5: Confirm Your Information

Step 6: Verify Your Business

This is where people usually get hung up. Google has a manual process for verifying your business. For most businesses, Google is important to customer acquisition. You can imagine how many shady business owners try to go after their competitors Google My Business account, so there is a way around this: Google will send a postcard to your business with a code on it to enter into your Google My Business account page. Make sure to let your receptionist know the card is coming so they don’t throw it out with the junk mail.

All your information is now complete and accurate and will be updated across all Google properties.

When we visit Google offices around North America for training or meetings, the mind set is always the same – if it’s the user’s problem, it’s our problem – and Strathcom shares that ideal. The dealerships that also share this logic will find far more success than those that don’t. So make your potential customers life easy, and action this blog. Someone is on Google right now looking for a car, will they find you?

Leaving a Google Review Just Got Easier

We all know how important online reviews are, and Google just made it easier for users to leave reviews on your Google+ page.  Google+ accounts are no longer required for leaving reviews, and Google is now allowing users with just a Google account to leave reviews.  Users now have the ability to use either a Gmail or non-Gmail based account to post about their experiences.  The only requirement is users must display both their first and last name.

Your clients no longer need Google + to leave reviews!

This small change will make the review process easier, and will open the door for more of your customers to leave reviews!

How to Take Advantage of Google’s Latest Maps Search Testing

google_search_pin_large

Like a demanding chef constantly adjusting the recipe to a signature dish, Google has been back in the kitchen tweaking its ingredients once more—this time to the maps results page. Known as the “snack pack,” these are the business listings triggered based on local search queries. Continue reading “How to Take Advantage of Google’s Latest Maps Search Testing”

Google My Business? Tips on How to Make It Your Business

Google My Business

If you own a business and want people to be able to find you, Google My Business is something you definitely need to check out. In Google’s latest Hangouts information session, they went over some tips for business owners to make the most of this feature.

Continue reading “Google My Business? Tips on How to Make It Your Business”

Google my Business Cleans Up the Dealer Search Platform

If you’ve been following the buzz in search marketing these past few weeks, then you’ve likely heard the news about Google’s new suite of tools, Google my Business.

Because of its rather apt and obvious name, you can probably guess that this Google’s new system to help ordinary Joes everywhere (observe: the lower-case M) organize and run their online marketing, all in one place.

Well, you’re right!

After having to put up with managing multiple, competing profiles through recent years in Google Places, Google+, and Google+ Local, dealers can now organize everything they need in one spot. (One site, one login, one password—hmm, where have we heard that before?…)

Google my Business

Source: Google.com

Goodbye Google Places

Gone is Google Places, useful at one time, but now shed like training wheels for this maturing search engine.

In case you don’t remember, this was the little box in the top margins of your Google search results that listed your name, phone number, and a map to help find you, littered with a load of lettered red tabs that may or may not have had to do with your dealership.

Now that your memory has been refreshed, look forward to someday reading a BuzzFeed article about “21 Hilarious Internet Search Results Pages that’ll Totally Make You Nostalgic for 2010 (Number 17 is so true!!).”

Things look little rosier now. All your SEO juice will be, um, concentrated in a clean, straightforward, and user-friendly platform. Look forward to posting general information, photos, and even include a virtual tour of the inside of your dealership, as well as automatically tracking website insights with these tools, such as clicks and new followers.

The Google my Business user interface now combines these six search elements in one system:

  • My Business Home
  • Reviews
  • Business Insights
  • AdWords Express
  • Google+
  • YouTube

That’s right—all your AdWords data, analytics statistics, SEO-boosting social media, and dealer videos in one place.

Q: Why?

A: To get you higher visibility and “curb appeal” in Google searches, maps, and Google+. So make those dealership selfies extra chic!

Search results

Source: Google.com

Reviews

Perhaps the most welcome change of the bunch: all of your online reviews collected and compiled in one spot. Save your marketing manager the time it takes to scan each and every entry from their bookmarked folder of online review sites, and have all of those linked reviews at your fingertips, instantly.

We all know that reviews are time sensitive; you want to know what people are saying about you, when they are saying it. Not two or three days later.

Locate, review, respond, neutralize.

Turn slighted customers into happy ones, and have your happy ones post reviews on the third-party sites that people are actually following in your area. Yep, Google my Business lets you discover this, too.

Reviews

Source: Google.com

Mobile Access

The Android app has just been released, and its iOS counterpart is not far behind; screenshots of both apps look promising so far. This means that not only can you manage your search marketing campaign at the office, but on the go, wherever you have access to your cellphone or tablet. Just don’t be obvious about it in the bathroom.

 

Let Us Keep You Informed

You trust Strathcom Media to keep you up to date with the latest online automotive tech trends; trust us with Google my Business, too.

If you have any questions, or if you need to be advised on setting up you Google my Business profile, contact your Strathcom representative and prevail in local search, today!

Stay tuned for a post on How to use the new Google my Business.