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Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford Director of Search and Social

Exclusive Blog Posts

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Ranking in the Top 10 for Google Places

 

Local search is vital for car dealers – experts in the industry have been preaching it for a while now, but thanks to the explosion of mobile devices and recent changes to Google, auto dealers are finally catching on. If you want to stay competitive, you’ve got to get your dealership’s Google Places page to rank high.

After Google’s update that blends Place-related results with standard organic results, Google Places has become a powerful tool for auto dealers to grab traffic. In many cases, smaller independent dealers are able to rank on page 1 of Google with a well-optimized Place page and compete against the larger franchise stores.

Amazingly enough, there are still a huge number of dealers who have not claimed their Google Places page. If you’re reading this post and your Place page isn’t “owner verified”, stop reading right now, head over to Google, and verify your listing!

If you’ve already verified your Place page, read on. David Mihm, a local search expert, recently conducted a survey of experts in the local search arena to find out what business owners should focus on to achieve higher rankings. Here’s the list of top 10 factors to focus on for Google Place page success: (listed in descending order of importance)

1) Physical Address in the city being searched - (data on your Place page) 
Obviously, if your address is in the city, you’re more likely to rank for that city.

2) Manually Owner-verified Place page - (data on your Place page) 
If you verify your page, Google knows that you’re a real business at a real address.

3) Proper category associations – (data on your Place page)
Don’t create categories that no one searches for – stick with “car dealer”, “car dealership”, “used car dealer”, and/or “new car dealer”

4) Volume of traditional structured citations - (data on your Place page)
Citations are listings for your dealership (name, phone number and address) on other websites, even if they’re not linked to you.

5) Crawlable address matching Place page address - (data on your website)
Make sure that the address on your website is text (not an image) and exactly matches your address listed on your Place page.

6) PageRank/Authority of website home page or highest ranked page - (data on your website)
Your PageRank is a numerical value of your “importance” on the Internet. The more optimized/relevant your site is (and the more inbound links you have), the higher your PageRank. Place pages for websites with higher PageRank will usually rank higher.

7) Quality of inbound links to website - (data off-site)
Google sees links as “votes” for your website. More links signify that your site is useful and relevant to people browsing the web.

8) Crawlable phone number matching Place page phone number - (data on your website)
Make sure that your phone number on your website is text (not an image) and exactly matches your phone number on your Place page.

9) Local area code on Place page - (data on your Place page)
Don’t use an 800 number on your Place page. A local area code helps to verify your location (make sure you’ve got your local number on your site as well).

10) City, State in Places landing page title - (data on your website)
Make sure that you have your city and state in the title tag of your home page.

BONUS TIPS:

11) Name Address Phone number (NAP) consistency is extremely important – Make sure that your information is identical everywhere you’re listed online: Dealership name, phone number, and address should match CHARACTER FOR CHARACTER.

12) You can upload up to 10 images of your dealership – take advantage of the opportunity to showcase your location and give people a reason to call you or click through to your website.

13) Reviews are critical for higher click-throughs – Put a link to your Google Places page on your website so it’s easy to send customers to your Place page to leave a review.

 

There’s no excuse not to follow these tips – you don’t have to be an SEO expert to apply all 10 of these factors to your Google Places page and your website. You’ll be surprised at how many dealers in your area haven’t even claimed their Place page… but even if there are other claimed pages, you’ll help yours stand out by following these tips. If you have any questions about local search optimization or automotive SEO in general, please call us at 888-311-7386 today and we’ll be glad to help you.

Chris Costner
Greg this is great information but also seems very involved. Let me ask, if someone were not familiar with Google Places but had a strong hold on their own website with SEO, why would or how does Google Places play that much more of a role?
Greg Gifford
Chris - this might seem involved, but it's actually easier than standard SEO - now that local search is so heavily integrated into Google, having your Places page rank high is key to driving actual foot traffic from Google. It also gives you an opportunity to rank for terms you might not rank for organically. For example, if you do a search for "car dealer Chesapeake", the listing for Little Joe's Autos shows up as the top result. It's entirely possible that your SEO efforts are much more involved than his, but he's still showing up #1 because the search is inherently local and his Place page is ranked higher according to Google's algorithm. In fact, your site doesn't even show up in the place listings, which account for the top 7 results for this query... When you take mobile searches into account, local optimization is even more important - people are looking for local results, so you have to show up high. Also, in the integrated listings, where Google mixes Place listings with organic listings, users will see your star ratings, so it's important to make sure that you've got an overall positive star count. Hope that helped explain a bit more.
Chris Costner
Thank you Greg, you said enough. I appreciate you sharing this valuable information for myself and the rest of the industry to see. I hope hit hits home for many others as well. Great thread.
Brady Irvine
Agreed. Thanks Greg, this explains a lot.
Mike Heath
Great article. I wanted to share some specifics that I do for my clients as it might help you guys who are just getting started. 1. Referring to the Name, Address, Phone number bonus tip in the article, I like to use the free resource http://www.getlisted.org (not my site) to check completeness of business listings among the top directories like Yahoo, Bing, Google, etc. The reason for this is that the getlisted.org tool also tells you if there are OTHER listings that you may not be aware of that are hurting your results. These listings may have the wrong phone, wrong name, an old address, etc. The other great reason for using getlisted is that many of these large directories actually "seed" the smaller local directories, negating the need for duplicate work. 2. Make it easy for customers to leave you a review. A locksmith client of mine has gained three reviews in just four weeks by switching to email receipts for his services. At the bottom of the email it says "like the service? Support local businesses and click the link to leave me a nice review!" I know many dealerships email customers, and this would be totally easy to add to the bottom of a post-sale survey. 3. Greg's comment about mobile is dead-on, but don't forget that you can easily integrate mobile into everything you're already doing. One simple example is a mobile website, which actually boosts your Google rankings - Google gives you bonus points for having a mobile version of your site. Also mobile - QR codes can easily be placed next to ads in the local paper with a message like "scan this code to view this car online!" That kind of stuff is REALLY neat for the customer and very powerful. There are even QR code services that alert you when a code link has been scanned. How cool would it be to see that phone number 555-5555 is looking at the Ford truck RIGHT THIS SECOND! You could easily call them up and say "hey I noticed you were checking out the ford, wanna take her for a spin?" This comment is pretty long, but please use all my ideas for free! If you want to offload some of this stuff to a full time internet guy, you can find me at http://www.somacore.com Again, great article!

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