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Have you ever wondered how search engines like Google work? How do they decide which ranking your dealership will receive for a given set of keywords? You may be aware search engines use algorithms to determine search rankings. These algorithms are a form of artificial intelligence, which are constructed to mimic the way humans think, and return the best results for the user’s search in a matter of a couple milliseconds. Nobody knows exactly what logic is used, but it is rumored more than 3,000 attributes construct a local ranking algorithm. Today we’ll dive into one of the top influencers of local search ranking, directory listings management.
What Are Directory Listings?
Let’s start by explaining what directory listings are. Simply put, they are entries across the web that identify your dealership. They are typically made up of components like dealership name, phone number, address, and website URL, and are used so consumers can find your business. Think about your dealership’s directory listings across the internet such as YellowPages.com, CitySearch, Yelp, Whitepages, SuperPages, Google, and Cars.com, as well as social media pages and your dealership’s website.
Why Are Directory Listings Important?
Let’s discuss the accuracy and consistency of these directory listings and how they help to establish your dealership as a credible business in the eyes of local search engines. Keeping your directory listings accurate and consistent across all data sources is one of the most important factors for ranking well in local search. For example, if you call your dealership “ABC Motors” in one place and “ABC Ford” in another, or “City Chrysler” and “City CDJ”, the search engine might see these as two separate businesses and rank your dealership lower in local search results. This is true for each component of your listing, from dealership name to phone number, physical address to your website URL. The consistency of your dealership’s listings makes up almost 50% of local search algorithms and is one of the main influencers for search engines when determining the trust and validity of your business.
Side Note: Local Search and Call Tracking Numbers
Many of the dealerships we work with use call tracking numbers in their marketing so it’s easy for them to determine where their leads are originating from. As discussed above, phone numbers are a key component to directory listings and using different phone numbers across the web can cause problems with local search ranking. We recommend dedicating a single call tracking number for your online marketing. If you already have an established online phone number, have your call tracking provider port the number so you don’t lose any local search value already established with that phone number and you can still track your online traffic. Then, use that call tracking number everywhere online, including your website, online directories, social media sites, etc. Call tracking numbers are a great way for you to understand which marketing efforts are working to generate leads and should still be used for all of your marketing efforts, however dedicating a specific tracking number to online efforts will increase local SEO ranking.
How Are Directory Listings Managed?
Often times, the actual management of directory listings can be a large undertaking; however, when done properly, your business will be rewarded with increased traffic from local SEO ranking. Here’s a step-by-step process for managing your dealership directory listings.
Add or claim your listings for each online directory. To be honest, there is no easy way to do this step and each directory works differently. Our advice would be to start with the major directory services, such as Bing, Cars.com, CitySearch, DealerRater, Edmunds, Facebook, FourSquare, Google, SuperPages, Yahoo, YellowPages, and Yelp, and work from there. You’ll want to determine if your dealership is already present on these directories and then claim your listing.
Correct any inaccurate information or remove any duplicates found on these directories. Often times, you’ll have duplicate entries for the same business on these sites and you’ll want to make sure to remove these so you’re not seen as two separate businesses. Also, take this time to set a standard for how your business information will appear on these sites, including your dealership’s name, address, phone number, and URL (be sure it is all consistent with your website). This will help build trust among local search engines.
Establish relevance for your dealership by assigning proper categories to your listings. The categories on these sites are used by search engines to determine which businesses to return and their ranking for a user’s search results.
Constantly monitor your dealership’s directory listings. You’d think once you claim your listing, update the information, and create categories, that you’d be all done, right? Wrong! Directory sites do their best to keep information updated and current. To do this, they receive batch updates to their platforms, and sometimes these batch updates contain outdated information and can undo the hard work you’ve already completed. Make sure to monitor your listings monthly for any updates needed.
The way consumers search for local businesses has evolved drastically over the past few decades. In fact, 64% of the time consumers are using local search through their mobile devices to find relevant businesses in their area. If your dealership does not appear in their local search results, then these potential buyers are turning to your competitors for their vehicle needs.