Greg discusses the best ways to segment your dealerships’ Google Business Profile listings without breaking the platform’s rules or taking on more than you can manage.
Tactical Tips Episode #26 Transcript
BRAD: All right, we’re back again with another Tactical Tip Tuesday. Today we have my great friend, Greg Gifford. He’s the Vice President of Search at SearchLab. He’s who I give a ton of credit for teaching me and getting me introduced to SEO a long, long, long time ago, and we’ve since become really good buddies, and I’m super excited. If you’ve never seen Greg speak, he pretty much always quotes movie quotes in every single presentation, so almost every slide has a movie reference on it, which is quite amazing, and it really hooks people into SEO, something that could be kind of mundane and boring to a lot of people, he makes it fun and interesting. So, Greg, thanks for coming on, man.
GREG: Hey, happy to be here.
BRAD: So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do a game here, and I just came up with this on the fly. And so here’s what we’re going to do, Greg. You know, we talked a lot about Google my Business and now rebranded to Google Business Profile, which I know both of us think that’s a little silly, but that’s okay.
GREG: Worst rebrand ever. Even worse than the Coke Zero fiasco.
BRAD: So here’s what we’re going to do. Okay, we’re gonna go back and forth really quick, and you name a fixed ops category, I name a fixed ops category.
GREG: Oh geez, you’re gonna wain because I’m gonna go “uh.”
BRAD: So you can’t cheat.
GREG: I can’t cheat and pull up a list?
BRAD: No, no, no.
GREG: Well, you’re gonna win. I forfeit before we even start.
BRAD: No, come on, we’ll just go 4-5 deep. Let’s see if we can make it to 10. Come on.
GREG: Okay, maybe, “auto repair shop.”
BRAD: “Car repair shop.”
GREG: “Oil change service” or “oil change center,” I don’t remember which one it is.
BRAD: Yeah, “oil change service,” you got it. I’m gonna throw a good one. “Auto air conditioning service.”
GREG: “Tire shop.”
BRAD: “Brake shop.”
GREG: Does detailing count? Because you could do “detail service” or “detail center”, I don’t remember which.
BRAD: You know what’s another one is “diesel engine repair”, so if you work with trucks, that’s a good one to use.
GREG: … I’m out. I can’t remember. You gotta do this when I’m not like just coming back from a week at a conference, and I’m super tired, and I got a broken rib right now, so my brain’s a little fuzzy.
BRAD: I knew it would be fun. The point is, there are a lot of categories.
GREG: There’s more than ten. You only get ten slots in your profile, and there’s more than ten categories for fixed ops stuff, especially if we’re going to split – there’s more than ten between service and parts for each one. So yeah, it’s crazy.
BRAD: Yeah, I think right now there’s 26, 27, which includes some of the diesel stuff which they’re starting to add in there. So well, you know what I’ve seen? This is kind of interesting. I want to get your take on this, especially with Ford stores. People are splitting out quick lube because they’re doing quick lube, and they’re spitting out quick lube, and they have regular service.
GREG: Which you’re not actually allowed to do. That’s actually against Google rules. Now every time I say this, people are like, “well, my competitor did it,” or “well I did it.” Google doesn’t know what the heck’s going on with anything. So just because you were able to do it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to do it. And the reason that I say you’re not allowed to do it is if you go put all this effort into setting it up and you have a competitor that either knows enough about SEO or a vendor that knows that enough about SEO and they report you, it’s gone and it’s taken away, and all that effort goes away. Or potentially, algorithmically, it gets detected and goes away, and you just put all this effort into something that is not sustainable long-term, and most of the people that go do all those things don’t do enough with it anyway. So take that effort and put it into the things that are allowed. That’s kind of my point of view.
BRAD: So what is allowed? What departments are allowed?
GREG: So you get your main listing is sales, then you’re allowed to have a separate department listing for service, a separate department listing for parts. If you have a detail service/center and you don’t have to do it just because you offer it, but if your dealership really pushes it hard and you want a separate listing for detail, you can do that. You can do a separate body shop listing, even though technically that’s still part of the service department, and really that’s it. That’s the only thing that’s allowed.
BRAD: What about auto group listings? You know, where you have a whole auto group.
GREG: So technically you’re not allowed to have a listing for the group because there is no real-world brick and mortar location for the group. The reason that dealerships get away with it is they’ll just say, you know, “Hey, I’ve got 5 stores in this city and I’ll just pick one of the addresses of one of the stores and make that the headquarters.” It’s just, what’s the point? They do it because they do offline real-world branding of “come buy from this group, come buy from this group.” So they want a group listing, but you don’t need it. Like, think about, s the juice worth the squeeze? Why do you put all this effort into creating all these millions of listings and then not do anything with any of them other than your main listing? You know, it’s important to point out too that having a separate service listing and parts listing is a specific rule that Google changed just for car dealerships. Other businesses can’t do that, but they also made a specific rule change for car dealers that you are allowed to have one separate department listing for each brand that you sell. Now that really only applies to Stallantis and GM where you have Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram Fiat will always be one building, one entity, even though it’s multiple brands. So you could have the Greg Gifford Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram store and then have a “Dodge dealer”, “Ram dealer”, “Chrysler dealer”, “Jeep dealer”, separate department listing. You’re allowed to do that. But is the juice worth the squeeze? Is it going to make sense for you to now multiply the work that you have to do on your Google Business Profile by 6 or 7? Do you get enough out of it by doing that? The vast majority of cases the answer is no. But if you’re in a really dense market like LA or Chicago or Houston or Atlanta, maybe it would make sense to do a Jeep listing because of all those brands, Jeep is really the one that’s probably going to have the most search volume. Maybe Ram, if you’re in Houston and people are going to buy a lot of pickups. But having that separate Jeep department listing when no one else in town has it. If anyone else is looking for a Jeep dealer, that kind of gives you a little bit of an edge, as long as you’re optimizing it and doing something with it. If you’re just going to set it up and do nothing with it, you’re not going to get reviews and optimize it, then don’t do it.
BRAD: Yeah, you know, I totally agree with that. Now, I will say this, and you and I have run across a lot of these. I was counting how many Google Business Profiles I’ve fixed this year and it’s been a lot. Like over 50 already. So what’s the best way to fix nesting issues that you’ve found?
GREG: To skip support, because support most of the time will tell you’re not allowed to have separate departments because Google support doesn’t realize that there are specific rules just for car dealerships. So the best thing to do is to go to the Google Business Profile Community Forum, post on the forum, include all the details to your different departments. You can definitely get them set up easily. It’s then getting the nesting to work. Just go to the forum. You could go in and click “Suggest an Edit” and say that that department is located inside of the main dealership listing and you can even have multiple people do that, and sometimes that’s enough to make it work. But at this point we just default and go right to the forum and then get a product expert to escalate it and it gets fixed really easily.
BRAD: Yeah, so I do the forum a lot and there’s a specific section for automotive, which we should say. So they’re on the forum now. I just talked to Lisette and she’s making a specific section for automotive on the forum, which she was telling me last week.
GREG: Are we talking about the same forum?
BRAD: Yes, actually she told me that they’re going to be making a specific section, hopefully for just automotive, to deal with this.
GREG: I was not aware of that, but it would be awesome if we could do it.
BRAD: So maybe that’s a little foreshadowing down the road. Does it help to submit a ticket within the GMB backend and have that ticket number as you go through?
GREG: If all you’re worried about is getting your departments nested, talking to support first in this case won’t help or won’t matter. Because the big problem is, like I said, most of the time, more often than not, whoever you get connected with on the support team isn’t going to be aware of the fact that that you’re allowed to do it. And I’ve heard a lot of horror stories and helped a lot of dealers through horror stories where they go to support to try to get that nesting to happen, and support will delete or remove those other listings for parts and service because they think they’re not allowed. Then you have to go set them up and reverify and go through all that again. So it’s usually better to avoid support because of that.
BRAD: Yeah, I mean the hardest thing is, especially if you’re having to reverify, and we know how successful getting postcards is and stuff like that.
GREG: Well they are starting to offer video verification now, so that’s cool. It’s a lot easier, but there’s some bugs with that as well on the newer system.
BRAD: Yeah you need verification, we had to do that down in Midland, and you have to have outdoor signage. You have to do the video of the outdoor signage. Show me this, show me the parts counter, show me the signage on the inside. So I’ve seen that happen a couple times. We were had to do some video verification and it’s where if the address doesn’t match the main listing properly, then it’ll push it to the video verification.
GREG: And they’re randomly just offering video verification. And I’ve seen, not as much for car dealers, but for a lot because, you know, I’m a product expert, so I’m on the forum every day answering questions, and I’ve seen a lot of people that don’t even get a postcard option anymore. All they get is video verification, and then they get confused because they’re used to that postcard experience. Or it’s an agency that’s trying to help a business, and they’re like, “look, I’m an agency, I’m not at the location, and it’s going to be way too hard to get some manager at that location to understand what to do and do it right.” And there are issues with whichever method they’re going to be using, but at least you do have the community forum to go to and not have to deal with the not-so-great support people.
BRAD: Remember the old days when you could get it done through the phone number, or you could get it done through Twitter?
GREG: I really miss the Twitter one! Because the Twitter thing was like you could go to Twitter and send a DM and I had one dude that I would always just send it to you. It was like “hey, man, it’s me again, can you fix this?” And if you addressed it to him in that DM, they would just send it to him and once they know you know your stuff, they just knock it out for you and that’d be great. But yeah, unfortunately that died.
BRAD: We had to get a road built when we moved our store on Google Maps and it was the worst thing ever, was trying to get this road built because it was a brand new address, we had to build the road for the city to create the dealership. So we had a we had to build a road on Google Maps and it was a nightmare and Twitter saved me on that one. So that was a good day. What other changes do you see coming down the road? You know what? Let’s talk about something that came up. What are some good local search tools that you use? I know there’s a handful. We have the guys over at Whitespark and Darren Shaw. We have Local Falcon, Places Scout. Which ones you use to look at local search?
GREG: So I love Whitespark, and that’s not just because I’m really good friends with Darren, but just Whitespark is a killer tool set. BrightLocal is also a really killer tool set. Local Falcon is really more for the grid search stuff and the grid searchers are cool, but most people vastly misunderstand how rank tracking works in local and it’s cool to see the green blossom out on those grid searches, but you still have to realize it’s not really an actual depiction of what real customers see. So I don’t ever really use Local Falcon and a lot of the tools that do the grid search. I just I’m not a big fan of rank tracking as a metric for success. But yeah, Places Scout is, I think, the best tool out there for local search. Each tool has its own thing that it does really well, but Places Scout just is so robust and does so many things that none of the other tools do and does it so well. It’s just amazing and it’s great. We just absolutely rely on it every single day for review tracking, for, you know, scraping the review sites and seeing if you have new reviews, and for monitoring the Q&A.
BRAD: Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah, and I know that Whitespark has a Q&A monitor too, which is kind of cool. I actually just did-this has nothing to do with automotive but it’s kind of cool-so I actually just did 2 businesses. They were new businesses, and I used Whitespark to do all of the business listings. And it has been the easiest process. 10x easier than Moz, 10x easier, it’s so easy to do.
GREG: And it’s like $200. It’s so cheap.
BRAD: And they do a fantastic job and they’re thorough and they send stuff over. So I gotta give some big shout-outs to Darren, he does a great job over there. And I know your fellow local search person, Joy Hawkins, was on here. So we’re setting a trend on some local search on here. So anything else you got for us, Greg before we let you go, man? This will probably come out next week, but we’ll be at Driving Sells together this weekend. So I’m sure we can chat it up.
GREG: Yeah we’ll have to have dinner for sure.
BRAD: Yeah, I’m in.
GREG: I mean dealers right now, still, for some reason, when they think about SEO, they think SEO is all about selling new cars. And it’s always been about more, but especially in today’s market, where there just is no inventory to sell, SEO is all of the fixed ops stuff. Like there’s such a huge opportunity that dealers missed out on around content and optimization and setting up department listings and even blog content and link building opportunities, like so much that can be done around fixed ops and used cars and buy back campaigns and general branding and getting discovered by potential customers before they’re looking to buy that dealers really need to be paying more attention to SEO and thinking about it differently than they have the past.
BRAD: Yeah, especially on the fixed ops side man, we do everything in the world, and I say this quite a bit. We do everything in the world to set our salespeople up for success, but we don’t really do the same thing for service advisors. And we don’t even tell all of the stuff that we do.
GREG: It’s a page with bullet points for like 5 different services and there’s so much more that’s there that it’s just such an afterthought and it shouldn’t be, because it’s a massive profit center for a dealership, and if you put some effort into it you can just explode it.
BRAD: Absolutely, and there’s not a lot of competition, right?
GREG: Yeah it’s easy to get results quickly.
BRAD: So when we’re looking at that, what kills us, and you’ll back this up on local search, is proximity to the searcher kills us, and how many auto repair facilities are there for every dealership? A Lot! And so if you look at local search market share versus market share that the dealerships capture in dollars, it’s almost identical. Yeah, so it’s about 18% is what we capture of the market. Out of last year was 652 billion dollars. So it’s just insane. I appreciate you fighting the good fight and trying to get that market share back for dealers. If they want to reach you or they have a question or they want to try to stump you, what’s a good place to?
GREG: I like how you throw that in. So now it’ll be “alright, let’s stump Gifford.”
BRAD: Yeah, “stump the Gifford” that’s got to be a new segment on SearchLab. That’s fun.
GREG: Yeah, so easiest thing is just to email me. It’s Greg at SearchLab Digital. That’s the easiest thing.
BRAD: I’m not even going to charge you for that new segment. I appreciate you coming on man, I’ll see you this weekend my brother.
GREG: Yeah we’ll hang out for sure.
BRAD: All right, we’ll talk to you later.
GREG: Alright, see you.