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If you want your dealership to rank higher when it comes to local search, Joy says it’s important to manage all your Google Business Profile listings equally, create internal links, offer testimonials in exchange for backlinks, and more!

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Tactical Tips Episode #20 Transcript

BRAD: All Right, Brad Pascal here with another Tactical Tip Tuesday. I’m super, super excited. I have Joy Hawkins here. She’s the owner and president of Sterling Sky up in Canada, and I heard you just got back from hanging out with Greg Gifford. We’re going to have him on later down the road. But tell us what you got going on and share some knowledge on some local search, because you’re like the go-to person that everybody follows right now. 


JOY: Well, Jeez, well, thank you. Yeah, so I guess to start off, you want me just to share some kind of general tips that I would say for auto dealers that are looking to optimize their various listings on Google?


BRAD: Yeah, that’d be perfect. You know what we’ve been talking about in the past, we had George Nenni on and we were talking about having the different listings and how to nest those different listings and things like that. And there’s a lot of resources to get that done. Some people don’t have all of those resources. But what are like some most important things when it comes to local search to make sure your dealership shows up when we’re looking at parts and service and body shop and stuff like that.


JOY: Yeah, so first thing is definitely check categories in the listings. There are a lot of different ones, especially on the service side. You know, there’s various categories, categories for like oil changes, different ones for different types of services, like tires, Google has an actual category for tire shops. Lots of things that I find most dealers don’t put on their listing. So that’s definitely one thing you can check out. I would also say, for the parts and service listings in particular. These tend to get more negative reviews. I’ve kind of seen a lot of dealers neglect them. So their main auto dealer listing looks great. They have like, you know, a 4.5 average, and let’s say 500 reviews. Then you pull up their service listing and it’s like 3 reviews, average rating 1.5, that’s pretty common. So I’d say, you know, make sure you’re not neglecting if you have those listings, don’t let them sit around out there with a 1 star average. Like you want to definitely try and pull some of your customers to review those listings as well as your dealer listing. So there’s no problem with people reviewing both if they had a genuine experience with both of them, the service side and the sales side. So I think that’s definitely one piece that I see neglected quite a bit. I can keep going, just interrupt me if you have any questions. 


BRAD: No, you’re okay, you’re fine. So I do have a question, though. How do you pair like Google My Business with the website? So I know it’s kind of like a marriage, right. It’s a marriage. You have to have the categories, but you have to have the content. So what’s a good content strategy for that?


JOY: Yeah, so, like most of what goes into ranking is based on your website. So we did a test actually on an auto dealer to try and figure out, like what’s the difference between photos that are on the listing versus photos that you put on your site. So, long story short, we found that adding photos to your actual listing, your Google listing, can alter where those photos show up. So let’s say you do a search for tires in Chicago or you know, a tire shop in Chicago. If you do a search like that, you will often see photos of tires show up in the search results. So it’s a good idea to have pictures of the various different types of services you offer so that Google can show them, but those don’t actually influence where you rank. So you first have to rank there then you get, you know, the relevant photo. However, on the contrary, if you put photos on your website, that actually does impact ranking. So we’ve seen cases where we took a dealer that had no images whatsoever on their site, like it was just a bunch of stock photos or no photos at all, and we substituted with some custom images of the actual service, like about what the page is about, and we saw a lift in local pack rankings. So images on your site, I think are one of the most neglected things that people leave off. They don’t think they’re important, and it can actually influence your ranking on Google. Same with content, of course. Your content on your site is probably the biggest thing you can do to control where you rank.


BRAD: Yeah, you know, one of the things that we try to tell dealers to focus on that’s really important, is looking at questions that people are asking, so if you can write content or blog posts that answer questions, if people are asking and you solve a question, there’s a chance you can grab a rich snippet or something like that on the search ranking. Is there a specific way to tie those blog posts and stuff into Google My Business or into Google posts? Is there a specific technique that really helps that way?


JOY: Yeah, so what you basically want to do is if you’re blogging, if you’re writing articles, they should be more focused around problems maybe that consumers are having. So, like, “my car is making this noise, what’s the problem?” Or, you know, “I have a (insert make, model) car. You know it’s doing this.” So you can get really granular with the different brands and types of cars and stuff, which I mean the opportunities are endless right, like there’s so many different possible keywords you could target because of all the different car brands. So the big thing to keep in mind is, if it’s 15 different main services, like brake repair, for example, then oil change. Let’s use those as examples. You would have a main page for oil changes. You have a main page for brake repair. So if your problem article that you’re writing is talking about some issue that you’re having with your brakes, you always want to link it back to your brake page. So internal linking, like I’ve audited sites for auto dealers where literally all of their blogs have zero internal links, like they’re not linking to anything else on their site. You’re losing a ton if you do that, so 100%, like that’s the biggest way that you can influence how Google relates to content and make the most of your blogs, for sure.


BRAD: So I totally agree with you. I think one of the ways that dealers can make the biggest impact right off the bat is looking at the internal linking structure on the home page and making sure that it goes out to all of the pages that you want authority to be spread to. I think this a big misstep in automotive, it’s one of the biggest ones I’ve seen, and so I’m glad that you brought that up because I’m very passionate about that and we tried to a really good job, because it creates a root system for those SEO pages and you know, the stronger the roots are, the stronger that the tree is, or the website is. So I think that’s so, so important. Do you have another trick or 2 that will make an immediate impact for people out there that they can do today and see a quick, quick impact on it?


JOY: Yeah, well, another thing we’ve seen that’s kind of common is people have different sites and we had one where they had a whole separate site just for their tires and I’m like, guys your tire site has no links pointing to it, so it’s not going to rank anywhere. So if you can avoid multiple sites, I say that’s usually better, you know, trying to keep it on one site. Another tip is, you know, let’s say, for example, you’ve got 4 different locations and you’re a dealer that’s multiple locations and you’re like, well, do I have one brake page or do I have a brake page for every single location? Usually we say if you have a service that gets traffic and volume, you’d want a page for every location. Right? So you’d want all your locations to have their own dedicated page about brake repair. Problem is, you can only say so many things about brake repair before it’s like the same right? So I would not stress at all about having 100% unique content. I realize this is not a popular opinion, but we have seen lots of similar content rank just fine as long as you’re not competing for the same city. So, like, if both your auto dealers’ locations are in Dallas, for example, then no, you don’t want two Dallas brake repair pages. But if, like, one’s in Dallas and one’s in Fort Worth, no problem, they’re not competing. As long as some of the information is slightly different and maybe use a unique testimonial, use a couple of unique photos, that kind of thing, then you should be just fine. You don’t have to rewrite the entire page.


BRAD: What are some good places? You’re just talking about linking, like external places, link into pages. What are some easy wins to get links back to auto dealers and stuff like that?


JOY: One that’s fairly easy that I think anybody can do is make a list of any businesses that you interact with. So like, as a business owner, you probably have a real estate agent, you probably have a lawyer, you probably have an insurance agent that does your policy for your business. To reach out to them and ask them if they’d be willing to feature a testimonial from you on their site. So we actually do this with our clients. Like we brought clients a list of testimonials on the Sterling Sky site and we link back to them. So they get a link, we get a testimonial. It’s like a win-win. So a lot of places would be willing to do that. So I’m sure your insurance agent, if they have their own site, would love a testimonial from you. And by linking to your site it also confirms like you’re a real person. They didn’t just make up that review and throw it on their site.


BRAD: That way you’re not reaching out saying “hey, can you link to me”. 


JOY: Right! You’re offering them something. You’re like, Hey, I’ll give you a review, I’ll give you “I love using you as my insurance company.” 


BRAD: That’s really powerful. I think a lot of people are going to use that. And you know what are some of the places, let’s say if somebody wants to reach out to you or I know you have courses on your site and you have a lot of information, and they should definitely follow you on Twitter because you post regularly and keep us up-to-date. So will you throw out some handles and some places where they can follow you and maybe like an overview on one of the courses that you have on your site?


JOY: Yeah, so my Twitter handle’s @joyannehawkins and all my tweets are about SEO so you won’t get any like politics or anything thrown in there. But my company’s website,, that’s where we post most of our articles and like helpful stuff, like we’re always doing tests on, you know, what things impact ranking, what things matter. So we post them there and they go out in our newsletter, which you can subscribe to free. We also have events that we do. Our next virtual event is on April 5th and those events are basically dedicated to learning about local SEO,  so specifically for local businesses. We don’t talk about like Ecommerce or any like really big level stuff there that would not apply to an SMB.


BRAD: I think that’s fantastic. If someone wants to shoot you an email, what’s the best email?


JOY: My email is So simple.


BRAD: Perfect, Joy. Thank you so much. As you know, I’m a big fan. I like you even more than I like Darren Shaw.


JOY: Am I your favorite Canadian?


BRAD: He’s gonna get a kick out of that. But he has a lot of great tools too so check out He’s a great friend of ours. So hopefully we can get you to an automotive conference soon to come share some knowledge. Maybe you and Greg tag team some stuff, though you’ll have to go through 87,000 movie quotes with him.


JOY: Oh Jeez, I’m used to that yeah.


BRAD: So maybe we could get you out. Thank you so much for your time and have a great day. 


JOY: Okay, all right, thanks Brad!

Haile Clifton

Haile Clifton

Haile is the Marketing Coordinator at Fixed Ops Digital. She has worked in Digital Media & Design for 6 years and helps with internal marketing and Drive Service Specials deployment at FOD.

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