The internet is the single most important public sphere in the 21st Century, and Google is how most of us navigate it. Google has leaned in to their position as the yellow pages of the future and has provided businesses with a vital tool to help customers find them. Google My Business is a free initiative from the company that does nothing more than put more eyes on your dealership. No cost to you with unlimited upside? That’s exactly the kind of thing you want to take advantage of, and we’re going to walk you through how.
Because we’re nice like that.
- Fill out the forms completely and accurately
This one is a no-brainer. After all, we’re talking about free advertising for your business. You don’t want customers guessing your hours or contact information; this is a professional listing, not a riddle on the back of the Constitution that Nicolas Cage has to solve.
The basic information the site asks for is your business’s name, address, phone, website, description, category, and attributes. The first four are self-explanatory. The important thing is that it’s complete, accurate, and consistent with what’s also on your website, as inaccuracy can hurt your ranking. If you have both a local and a national number, use the local one as a lot of Google searches include either “local” or “near me.”
The latter three options on the listing need a bit of explanation. Category is what you are: a car dealership. Description fleshes this first thing out a little more. What kind of dealership are you? Ford? Honda? Are you a one-price store? Do you offer a personal touch, or is your focus getting a customer out the door fast in the car they want? The key to remember is you get one line. Think of it a bit like a tagline for a movie, only it’s your business. Attributes let you expand a little on the description. What specifically sets your dealership apart from others? Be as specific as possible.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that anyone can edit your information on Google My Business, so it’s not a bad idea to check in regularly and ensure everything is how you left it.
- Reviews are your lifeblood, and aren’t the final word
The best thing about the internet is anyone can post there. That’s also the worst thing. Online reviews are absolutely vital for drawing in customers as 82% of customers read reviews for local businesses at some point. Over half always read reviews. The point is, you need them and the better the reviews, the better for you.
So how do you get reviews? While it’s far from a sure thing, you can ask your customers to provide them. Attaching a direct link to any messages or emails you might send helps encourage them. Laziness is often the biggest barrier to getting a review and removing a hurtle is never a bad idea.
That’s still not all. Once you get a review, you’ll have to respond to it. If it’s a good review, that’s easy. Thank the customer for everything and express your pride and happiness at their good experience. It’s the bad reviews that require some nuance. Don’t be angry or combative; those responses often provoke the same. The key is to make the customer feel heard and respected, and ask them how you could improve their experience in the future. This serves a dual purpose: 1) you might be able to make an unhappy customer a happy repeat customer and 2) others visiting your Google My Business listing will see that you’re conscientious, respectful, and always looking to improve. If you don’t believe me, look at the data: almost half of the respondents to one study said they’d patronize a business that responded to a negative review.
- Don’t forget to post
Google My Business includes a feature where you can post media. You have to make use of this, but it can be a little intimidating. After all, what do you post?
Running a car dealership, you have some of the most photogenic merchandise out there. Don’t be afraid to post glam shots of new stock, or an especially attractive pre-owned vehicle you were lucky enough to get your hands on. You’ll bring in customers who want what you have and are ready to make a deal.
More than that, you have the opportunity to make your business look welcoming. Post shots of your staff hard at work or group pictures of everyone smiling. The good stuff. Encourage your customers to take their own pictures and tag your dealership (it’s not a bad idea to have a hashtag ready). Keep an eye on that hashtag, and repost photos tagged with it. Your customers will feel like they’re part of the family, and potential shoppers will see that your dealership is the kind of place that produces loyalty.
Still not convinced? How about this: business with photos on their listings score 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps.
- Emojis are your friends (no, seriously)
Adding emojis to your post might seem cutesy or frivolous, but it can help with your SEO. You can search Google with nothing more than an emoji now, so why not make use of it? A customer might use the car emoji on a search, and that’s a customer that could be yours for just the price of adding a single emoji to your Google My Business listing.
This strategy is brand new, so the efficacy isn’t set in stone. However, it’s incredibly easy and costs you literally nothing.
- Make use of shortnames
You’re probably wondering is what a shortname is. I’ll tell you what they do, and then how to find them, because after this, you’re going to want to make use of them.
Essentially, a shortname allows two things, and both of them are awesome for you. The first is that it allows your posts—not just your business—to be found via a Google search. Since this whole article is about the importance of Google, you probably don’t need to be told why this is great. The second is that it allows customers to follow your business through Google My Business, just as if you were Dwayne Johnson’s Instagram account. Once your business has been followed, your listing shows up in their Google Maps “For You” tab. Handy, right?
Shortnames are located right between your phone number and website link, and are formatted like a Twitter username, with an @ in front of them. So if you were the owner of Buddy Garrity automotive, your shortname might be @buddygarritycars.
The point is, shortnames are easy to miss, but very good when you’re talking about SEO. Now Google isn’t just indexing your site; it’s indexing every post you’ve ever put up.
Google My Business is an excellent tool that only requires a little finesse to get the most out of it. Follow these tips and get this free service working for you!