If you’re like many local auto dealers, then you’re likely thoroughly confused with the latest changes from Google Places to Google Plus Local. We covered this transition in our previous blog post titled “The New Google Plus Local.”
The first thing you will notice is that the old Google Places isn’t being pulled up any more in the Search Response Pages (SERP’s). Instead, you’ll find a Google Plus Local page that has all of your Google Places information. Or does it? Many people in the Google Places Forum are complaining about missing data. Also, if you take ownership of your new Google Plus Local page, it redirects you to the old Google Places information input page without your existing Google Places data loaded. That’s right – it’s a completely new platform that doesn’t have any of your Google Places information loaded.
If this describes your experience, then your next step is filling out all your Google Plus Local information again in Google Places. I know it’s confusing, but stay with me – we are about to get to the good stuff. Consider this a good time to start over and get your Google information setup right.
Here are the 5 mistakes most local auto dealerships makewhen setting up their Google Places:
1) Adding city or keywords to your business name: Unless your legal business name has your city or a keyword in the name, then don’t add it to your business name on your profile. It is against Google’s guidelines to do this and it will actually reduce your rankings as a result. This tactic includes adding your domain name, phone number or any other descriptor that is not your legal business name. Google will cross-reference your data with citation sources and/or online Yellow Page listings to verify the validity of the information that you’ve submitted. If there are discrepancies, then you’ve just hurt your rankings.
2) Using a P.O. Box or a mailbox plus address in the address field: Maybe you are just outside the city limits or in one of those weird zones that has a different address other than the city you want to rank for. You might be tempted to use a rent-an-address service to fool Google. Don’t do it! Google cross references their data sources with government public records such as business registrations, telecom data, and past Yellow Pages listings. Plus they have all the addresses of the rent-an-address sites. This is a tactic that spammers use and Google is on to it.
3) Making up your own categories over Google’s preferred categories: Many local dealers will only configure one or two categories for their business. This is a huge ranking factor for local search results so you will want to fill out all five categories. Also, remember to use Google’s categories that “best” match what you do. You can create more descriptive categories after you run out of the pre-formatted categories. This allows your listing to fit into the Google mold they want everyone to fit in. If you are the odd ball that makes up all of your own categories then guess what – you get back of the bus rankings.
4) Using a different number other than your main line: Never put a toll free number or even a secondary phone line as your main number on your profile page. Many businesses will try to track their calls by inputting a remote call forward number for tracking purposes. This sounds great from a marketing perspective but it’s against Google’s guidelines and will cause a negative ranking signal when Google verifies your phone number.
5) Failing to fully complete your listing information: This sounds like a pretty basic no-no, but believe it or not, many don’t realize that to fully complete your listing information you will need to fill out every field and upload 10 pictures and five videos. If you don’t have any videos, find videos on YouTube that have the likes of “auto dealer,” “car dealer” or city specific keywords in the title and simply put the URL in the video field. Just make sure you aren’t linking a video that’s been put together by a competitor.
Remember to stay within Google’s guidelines and stay away from the above pitfalls and you should see an improvement in your rankings versus your competitor that is likely to have one or more of these mistakes in their profile.