Updated: Dec 11, 2020
As mentioned in the previous article, GMB has redefined the SEO playbook. So what is it exactly and why is it so important?
Google defines their service this way:
“Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. If you verify and edit your business information, you can both help customers find your business and tell them your story.” (Reference Link)
The example to the left shows several GMB listings. No doubt you have used this before to find out if a restaurant is open or to call in a takeout order. More and more people are using this without even scrolling down to check the SEM ads and organic SEO listings. And it has also been seen to have a significant impact on local SEO, giving you direct access to your local customers. This article will clearly explain how to set up and optimize your GMB listing, which will help you edge out your competition and present that clear breadcrumb path we’ve talked about (see the first article in the series to know what breadcrumbs have to do with anything).
TIP: Do you have a GMB listing? If you are not sure then try searching your dealership in an incognito tab. If you do not see a listing for your dealership then you likely have not claimed your account or set it up. If you do see one take a minute to see if it’s up to date. Would you be inclined to take action as a customer based on the information provided?
If you do not currently have a GMB listing, don’t worry, not only is it FREE but it’s also easy to set up.
First, you need to claim and verify your GMB listing.
Sign in to Google My Business with the google account you want to associate with GMB. If you have an account with your company's domain, it’s best to use this. If you don’t have a Google Account you will be given an option to create one here.
Enter your business address or service area.
Choose how your business will display on google maps by entering your address again. If you don’t serve customers at your address then at the bottom of the page you can click I deliver goods and services to my customers > Next.
Select the category that best describes your business.
Enter your phone number or website URL and then click finish.
Review your information to make sure it’s accurate and then select a verification option (you can either verify now or choose to do it later.)
If you verify now, you will be asked to verify your address and then Google will send you a postcard in the mail. When you receive that postcard you can sign in to your GMB account and click verify again to enter the code given. Refer to this article to see other ways of verifying your account.
Resources: If your GMB listing already exists but you do not have full ownership of the account then follow these instructions. Follow this link to see specific information for auto dealers using GMB. If you run into roadblocks this helpline may come in handy.
Tip: Once you create your account be sure to set up several users for redundancy. This will prevent you from losing access and being unable to log in if one employee quits or if you experience an error. Follow the steps listed here to do this.
Wait! You’re Not Done Yet - Unlock the Power
Many people make the mistake of stopping here and thinking “I can go get some coffee and a donut now and let Google do its thing”. But that is not the case. Having a listing is better than nothing, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t optimize it by filling out all of the information possible. You want to give your customers as many reasons as possible to pick you over the dealership next door. Let’s walk through some of the elements that will help you utilize this powerful tool to the fullest extent.
Photos and Video: Upload high-quality photos and videos to your account. This will attract customers to your business and improve your SEO. Listings with relevant and appealing photos do better than ones without.
90% of customers are more likely to visit a business that has added photos to their Google listing.
Source: *Google/Ipsos Connect, “Benefits of a Complete Google My Business Listing,” October 2017.
Info: Properly fill out the Info section and keep this information up to date. Try to fill out all the fields that apply to your dealership.
Messaging & FAQ: In today’s world, people want instant gratification and immediate responses. Enabling messaging with customers and having the resources to follow through will help increase your conversions. Also, fill out the FAQ section with answers to common questions your customers have (or might ask). The more questions you answer the less friction your customers will experience in their research/buying process.
Customer Reviews: Make asking for reviews part of your sales process. When buying a new product on Amazon are you likely to buy the one with no reviews or the one with four and a half stars and over 1,000 reviews? Reviews have the power to strongly influence us. In fact, around 90 percent of customers say that reviews—whether positive or negative—influence their purchasing decisions. Here is a reference with a ton of information and examples to help you know how to ask for a review.
Create and share your google short name (a quick way to find a GMB listing) with customers and respond to customer reviews to build your business’s trustworthiness. (Your @ short name can be found under the info section.) Try it out! Look up our short name: @fastco_us.
Do you find this information helpful or have you worked with us before? We would love to hear from you! Leave us a review and let us know what you think.
Posts: Use the Posts section to list current marketing content. Think of it as just another (very powerful) social media channel. Additionally, you can utilize your GMB listing to mirror any SEM promotions, list your current incentives, and automatically push your video inventory to be more visible.
Google My Business has a special section for dealerships called the Vehicle Inventory Carousel, which is a feature that we recommend you take full advantage of. (Additional information on this can be found on Brian Pasch’s LinkedIn post and in his instructional YouTube video.)
Links within this carousel will take your customers directly to your SRP or VDP depending on the links you set. The drawback to this carousel is the amount of time it takes to keep it up to date. LESA (Live Event Stream Automotive) has created an automated solution for this in their Dealer Video Inventory system at no extra cost. LESA’s system will allow you to either post 10-20 random vehicles automatically, or you can use their GMB Management Dashboard to quickly post whatever vehicles you want.
The Vehicle Inventory Carousel along with the other various tools within GMB will enable you to spend less on Google Adwords while at the same time increasing SEO.
TIP: GMB has an app for mobile that makes some of these tasks as well as monitoring your account easier. Download the app for Apple or Android. Keep in mind, some features are only available on mobile while others are only available on the desktop portal.
Reassure Your Customers with COVID Updates
Google My Business has been extremely helpful to businesses amidst this pandemic. Businesses that utilized GMB were able to give their customers immediate COVID updates and answer questions and concerns. Anticipating customer’s needs and providing them with relevant information (including any protocol changes due to COVID) is vital with all of the rapid changes we have seen this year.
Insights - The Window into Your Customers Mind
Now that you have unlocked the power of GMB, how do you know if it’s actually working? Check the Insights tab to see how your customers are finding your listing and interacting with it. This will give you a good overview so you can understand how clear your message is and how many people are motivated to take action. Based on this information you can make adjustments and fine-tune your listing.
In review, Google My Business is a powerful free tool that will boost your local SEO, draw customers into your sales funnel, and help you to take full advantage of the Google Search platform.
What should you do now? If you have not already set up your GMB account, then start by claiming and verifying your account. Make sure that your dealer’s information is up-to-date and relevant. This is crucial in providing your customers with a clear path to choosing you over your competitors.
Now that we have set one of the major SEO breadcrumbs, our next article will help you place more breadcrumbs by giving you actionable tips to improve your SEM.