By Greg Gifford, VP of Search, SearchLab
A few months ago, I wrote an article explaining the new update to Google My Business (GMB) rules for car dealers. In March, Google changed the rules for GMB and added an exception for auto dealers – now dealers are allowed to create a separate GMB listing for each brand sold.
In the article, I explained that this only really mattered for GM and FCA dealers and that the update didn’t make sense. I speculated it would lead to an explosion of listings, and since the general public would only see a dealership’s main listing, it would create lots of extra work without any real benefit.
I was wrong… sorta
Near the end of April, Google rolled out another update to Google My Business, and again, it was exclusive for car dealers. Google is now listing the nested department listings in the main Google My Business profile for the dealership.
In my article a few months ago, I talked about how it didn’t make sense for GM and FCA dealers to add GMB listings for the brands they sold since the general public wouldn’t see those department listings unless they used incredibly specific search phrases.
Now, with Google’s latest update, the March update makes much more sense. Google has displayed the various departments of big-box retailers like Costco for quite a while now. It makes perfect sense to list the departments for car dealers as well.
At the beginning of 2018, Google introduced department listings for car dealers, allowing (and in most cases, automatically adding) listings for Parts and Service. These became known as “phantom listings” since most dealers were unaware of the new listings.
Over time, it has become a topic of debate as to whether a dealership should include additional GMB listings for Parts and Service. Many opted for just a single listing since most reviews ended up on the main business listing anyway.
Guidelines for Setting Up GMB Department Listings
Don’t go crazy adding departments that don’t exist. They must be legitimate departments in your dealership. If you want your department listings to get approved, you’ll need to follow the rules and best practices when setting them up.
Each department needs:
- A unique name
- A unique phone number that rings directly to that department. If you have a phone tree, use a tracking number that rings to the same tree. That way, Google will see a unique number for each department.
- Unique categories. On your main listing, only include “car dealer” and “[brand] dealer” terms. Save the service categories for your service department, parts for your parts department, and so on.
- A unique website link that clicks directly to that department’s page on your website.
If you follow these guidelines, you’re more likely to get your department listings approved.
The main benefit of adding department listings was the way hours displayed. Once the department listings were added, the dealership’s main listing updated to show business hours, separated by department. Since sales and service hours are always different, this was a huge benefit for customers
It’s a much better customer experience
Now that Google has updated the “parent” Google My Business listing to explicitly display the departments, every dealership should be using department listings. Now that customers can easily navigate to the various departments, you’ll be able to separate your reviews. Sales reviews will go on the main listing, service reviews will go on the service listing, and so on.
At an absolute minimum, you should have a “main” listing for your dealership with department listings for parts and service. If you have other revenue or business centers, add those in as well – collision centers, car washes, detailing services, etc. As long as it’s a separate department, you should be able to add the listing.
Now, on the main listing, customers will see the various departments and be able to click through for specific information and details about that department.
Need to know how to nest your department listings?
For most dealers, parts and service listings have already been created by Google and are already set to display as departments of the main listing. You can tell that a listing is a department listing because, at the top of the listing, it will say that it’s located inside of your main listing (and obviously, the main listing will list it as a department).
Google calls these department listings “relations” (because why call it something that makes more sense?).
How to set up department listings in GMB
If you don’t have department listings already created for your dealership, here’s how to set them up:
- First, follow the standard procedure for setting up and claiming a Google My Business listing. Follow the guidelines above to make sure you’re using unique information.
- Once the listing is set up and verified, you’ll need to create the “relation.” The easiest way to set up a department listing is to do it yourself. Simply click “suggest an edit” on the department listing and select “Change name of other details.” Scroll down past the map area, and type in the name of the main dealership listing in the field labeled “located within.”
- In most cases, once you submit that edit, the department listing will automatically be approved, and it will be listed on the main listing. If you follow this process, and the department listing isn’t showing on the main listing, you can try again (it might help to use a different Google account on the second try).
- You can also contact Google support and ask them to create the relation for you. Contact GMB support on Twitter (use the @GoogleMyBiz) account and explain what you’re doing, listing the URLs and information for both listings. There’s usually a few days delay since support is typically pretty busy with requests, but within a few days, your department listings will be set up.
Access more insights and strategies to improve your online visibility For more strategies to improve your online visibility, make sure to join Greg for:
“Donnie Darko’s Guide to Automotive SEO: Pivot Your Search Strategy for a Post-COVID Landscape” on Oct. 6, 2020, during the Digital Dealer Virtual experience. Register now for the Digital Dealer Virtual experience, a two-day conference and expo (100% online), Oct. 6-7, 2020, where you can attend 50+ actionable educational sessions, demo solutions, and connect with industry professionals through various virtual networking opportunities!
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This article was published in the August 2020 Issue of Dealer Magazine. You can view the August 2020 Issue here.
About the Author
Greg Gifford is VP of Search Marketing at SearchLab, a boutique marketing agency based in Chicago. He’s one of the most in-demand speakers at digital marketing conferences all over the world. Greg has 17+ years of online marketing and web design experience. His expertise in Local SEO has helped hundreds of businesses gain more visibility in local searches.