In November of 2016, Google announced their push to a mobile-first focus for how they rank search results. With over half of searches occurring on mobile, Google has realized the importance of focusing on the search experience on a mobile screen, and is making updates accordingly.
Within the search results, Google lists out relevant local businesses in what they call the local pack. For each business, the searcher would see hours for that day, their Google review ratings, links to the website and driving directions. Clicking on a business name displays the full knowledge graph, or the individual Google Business listing.
Star ratings and hours are still displayed, but the website links and driving directions are gone. Google has replaced those with the preferred photo. Google defines the preferred photo as the photo that you want your customers to see alongside your business name on Google Maps and Search.
Your featured photo and star rating are more important than ever.
Along with your location, they are the differentiating features that are immediately available to help a consumer make a decision about which dealership to choose.
With Google’s update, a consumer now has to click twice to access the dealership’s website. Now they have to choose a dealership from the search results, click on that dealership, and then click again to access the website. If your photo and star rating doesn’t capture their attention, the likelihood of them making that second click drops dramatically, and with it, so do your organic search results.
With that in mind, you need to select a photo that tells your story and is easily recognizable to customers. Since these photos now show on the mobile local pack results, you need to make sure it’s a photo that scales well for any screen.
If you’re a dealership with access to the Google My Business profile, you can log in today and upload your preferred photo. If you don’t select your preferred photo yourself, Google will select one for you. Google will source this photo from other user uploads or select a photo that their algorithm thinks is relevant to your business. This profile photo is now your calling card on Google. Shouldn’t you control what your customers see?
Your star rating is also key. The difference between a 4.5 and a 4.7 rating might be the deciding factor for a customer. Managing your reputation both in the dealership and online is essential to your success.
Google updates their platform often to accommodate customers’ constantly changing needs. Make sure your strategy is just as agile.