A recent Forbes article on Google Business Profiles said that they “are no longer optional – [they are] an essential part of any business’s online presence and are often the first place customers look for up-to-date information about your company. In the age of Covid-19, this is more true than ever.” This statement is especially true for car dealers since it is often incredibly important for you to distinguish yourself from the myriad of competitors in your area.
So why am I writing this post? Simply put: The vast majority of dealers don’t optimize their Google Business Profiles (GBP), or even set them up right.
How do I know? We wrote software that can evaluate the digital ecosystem around thousands of dealer websites to see how their websites perform, if they have issues with their Google Business Profiles (GBP), what the demographics reveal about marketing opportunities around their dealerships… you get the picture. We’re not basing our data on small data samples, but from across the industry.
Today, all I care about are your GBP Categories. Get these right and you’ll be off to a good start.
Set It Up Your Categories Correctly… From the Start!
Your Info section for your GBP contains all the setup information that you’ll need to lay a good foundation for your profile’s performance. You must set it up correctly so that you make Google’s algorithm happy and maximize how you will perform in Google searches relative to those other dealers who don’t optimize their GBP.
The first thing you need to do, and all that I’m writing about today, is to make sure that your categories are properly configured (That would be the top exclamation point in the image above). There are three types of Google Business Profiles for which you must do this depending on what your dealership sells… Sales, Service and Parts. Since all dealers sell vehicles, you should pay attention to the Sales section in particular.
Use this information for your Sales related GBP and only use that which applies to you. Your primary listing should include one of the following and then you can include up to 9 more in the “Additional categories” option (only if they apply… don’t spam it… Google won’t be happy). Not surprisingly, if you are a used car dealer, then use that as your primary category while you should choose your franchise brand as your primary if you are selling a single brand (such as Honda in the example above).
- Car dealer
- Car finance and loan company
- Car leasing service
- Used car dealer
- If you are a franchise dealer selling a single brand, then include the name of the brand and “dealer”. The options are displayed as “[brand name] dealer”.
- If you sell trucks, then include “truck dealer” and/or “used truck dealer”.
NOTE: In the above example, the dealer appears to have selected “Car Dealer” as their primary category (it’s the first category in a listing). They are a Honda dealer and that should be their primary category followed by car dealer, used car dealer and any other categories that might apply.
What you put down for your service department takes a bit more thought since you can have more than 10 categories… so prioritize and choose those categories that most directly relate to your offering.
NOTE: You should have a separate GBP for your Services, and arguably, a separate GBP for Parts. However, if you are a small operation and maintaining multiple GBPs is difficult, it might be wiser to combine Services and Parts into one GBP, or keep everything under Sales. Whichever option you choose, have policies in place to request a great review at the point of sale, and capture and correct bad reviews quickly by contacting the customer… not just responding to the review. (Check out an old post I did about maintaining your reviews for some ideas.)
That said, consider starting with these Service categories first picking the one that fits your offering best:
- Auto Repair Shop
- Auto Tune Up Service
- Car Repair and Maintenance
- Oil Change Service
- Truck Repair Shop
For the remainder, only pick those that meet your goals and what you’re selling (with the ones marked with a * largely intended for body shop categories). Remember to not overdo it; Google doesn’t like it if you stuff your categories with irrelevant categories:
- Auto Air Conditioning Service
- Auto Body Shop *
- Auto Bodywork Mechanic *
- Auto Dent Removal Service *
- Auto Electrical Service
- Auto Glass Shop *
- Auto Painting *
- Auto Radiator Repair Service
- Auto Wrecker
- Brake Shop
- Car Detailing Service
- Car Inspection Station
- Car Wash
- Towing Service
- Transmission Shop
- Wheel Alignment Service
Finally, you are limited to 11 categories for your Parts Department. As recommended before, only pick those that apply to make Google happy.
- Auto Body Parts Supplier
- Auto Parts Store
- Auto Sunroof Shop
- Car Accessories Store
- Car Battery Store
- Muffler Shop
- Racing Car Parts Store
- Tire Shop
- Truck Accessories Store
- Truck parts supplier
- Used Tire Shop
That’s it! Go check your categories. Have you maximized your options? If not, do it now. This will help your search performance… a good thing in this crazy market. And, if you have questions, just drop me a note and we’ll help you out… even if it’s just a good conversation or two.