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Keeping up-to-date with changes to Google’s business platform is a full-time occupation. Every time you turn around, Google has either radically updated or completely changed their services. Just in the last short while we have gone through Google Places, Google+, Google+ Local and now Google My Business. Each step along the way, things got more confusing, as both Google Places and Google+ operated quasi-independently. However, with the launch of Google My Business, it appears they have finally fixed this (monumentally frustrating) problem and amalgamated everything into one system.
So as Google begins to market this product and buzz hits the Internet, I wanted to summarize why you should care (or not care) about the new updates and how they will (or won’t) affect your dealership.
If you are a longtime Google Business/Places/+ Local user you will be overjoyed that you no longer have to manage two competing Business Services lists. And, that’s about it.
Existing veteran users will log in and say, “This is all the same. What am I missing?”
They would be right. Those already accustomed to trekking their way through the murky waters of Google+ Local will see basically the same thing. The ONLY difference I can discern is that it is easier to manage your online reviews. Previously, you had to sneak in through the back door to respond to your Google+ reviews. Now, they have moved the door to the front of the building with a big neon sign.
Not really, other than knowing Google Places is now gone you may continue about your day and wait until Google changes this platform again. Call this a mulligan of sorts.
If you have gotten to the point where you have registered your business with Google and maybe uploaded a photo or two, these changes will affect you more significantly.
The new platform is a lot more user-friendly. Everything is split between six categories: My Business, Reviews, Business Insights, AdWords Express, Google+ and YouTube. Here is where to start.
First, if you haven’t already, claim your connected Google+, Google Analytics and YouTube accounts. These are intrinsically tied to your Google My Business profile and are crucially important towards your Organic Search Rankings.
The core of the system where you can update your business information including website, location, phone numbers, photos, categories, description and hours of operation. When you first jump in, you may want to comb through this to ensure all the information is correct. Having a customer show up at 7 a.m. after driving for 3 hours for a test drive appointment is a heatscore you want to avoid. Trust me, I’ve been down this road before :P.
Furthermore, what you enter into your My Business section will be spread across all accounts including AdWords. It will also affect how your business is viewed on Google.
Google now has quick access into your Reviews Management, where you can not only view all the reviews posted about your dealership, but reply, flag and analyze your reviews. With its Review Analytics feature, at a glance you can see how many reviews your dealership has received from ALL review sources. That’s right, all of your Dealer Rater reviews now have made their way into Google’s algorithms. You can separate by source or time period, and as an added bonus, Google provides direct links to each and every review.
Insights is comparable to a bolt-on air intake for your Google Analytics. It affects change on its own, but it is part of a larger system. The main purpose of Insights is to give you a snapshot of your Dealership’s Google+ Organic Performance.
Business Insights is split into three subsections:
All of this information is great, if you have a very active Google+ profile. (Hint, you should have a very active Google+ profile.) The fact that Google is tracking your Google+ reach is an indication that they are watching, and expecting you to participate in their little “+game.”
Part of the magic surrounding Google’s world dominance is how they encourage the average user to advertise on their network by educating them on how to do so. However, AdWords Express (previously Google Boost) was designed to make it infinitely easier for Google to take your money.
Basically, you choose what site you want to promote, and how much you want to promote it for monthly and voila!
On the other side of the coin, Express also significantly limits the amount of data you can view as well, so you definitely get what you pay for. It’s akin to advertising in the local newspaper. It’s not a lot of effort, and you kind of know it’s working, but that’s about it.
If you are still new to Google+, you are beginning to fall behind the average. Most progressive dealers are at least aware, if not posting social updates and delivery photos on the regular.
Instead of rehashing the obvious, Mashable has a great article you can read: “The Beginner’s Guide to Google+”
For the basic Google+ user, as I mentioned above, part of the My Google Business platform is Google+ Insights. If you haven’t already, focus on expanding your Google+ connection network, and then work on delivering captivating content to those connections. It’s not as easy as it sounds, so here are a few tricks to get you started:
This is where things can get tricky. When Google chose to merge YouTube and Google+, there wasn't an easy way to keep an existing account and transfer it. In some cases (like mine) it was impossible. One of our dealer pages had over 250,000 views that had to be abandoned in order to link with Google+. We looked at every possible angle and eventually bit the bullet.
You may find that you have to do the same thing if you click through the YouTube link and it asks you to create a new account.
However, on the positive side, when everything is connected, your stats cross platforms and from the Google My Business dashboard you can see how everything is trending. Most importantly, the more you intertwine your business with Google, the more prominence you will receive within its search rankings. I've witnessed it firsthand each time I follow Google down its rabbit hole.
Yes. Everything you need to do is more or less in one easy-to-use space, so there is no excuse not to get your dealership hooked up to the Google matrix. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me, or just comment below!
If you are an owner, dealer principal, or general manager and you KNOW you are "deep in the weeds" on this one, do yourself a favour and hire an E-Comm manager/director. Even if you are a tiny little store in Akron, Ohio, you will need someone in-house that understands all this "techy stuff". At the end of the day, bringing in a young tech "kid" and teaching him/her the "car game" will cost you monumentally less than handing over wads of cash to a third party time and time again. Yes, vendors and consultants can be a valued assset but don't look to them to control your entire operation. After all, would you have a vendor/consultant sell on your showroom floor? Or service your customer's vehicles in the shop?
Yes. A thousand times, yes. The automotive industry is past the point of "changing" – it's changed, and will continue to change at a faster pace each day. If you are just jumping into the waters, you need to catch up real fast. Hook your fishing line to a killer whale and hold on tight. You'll be all right.
What are your thoughts on the new Google My Business?
What did I miss?
What are you going to do next?
Let's get the comments going!
Robert Karbaum arguably has the best name in the automotive industry. His combined experience over the past decade in E-Commerce and the automotive industry has allowed him to master the art of “AutoSpeak”; the ancient language that bridges the gap between internet geeks, the showroom floor and everything in-between. He manages the E-Commerce, Social and Digital Marketing operations at Weins Canada Inc. (formerly Don Valley North Automotive Group); a prestigious automotive group in Canada which includes the #1 volume Toyota and Lexus dealerships in the country.
Catch him on Twitter (@karbaum) or DroppinBaums.com.