9 Google Business Profile Essentials for Used Car Dealers

A Google Business Profile (GBP) listing for your auto dealership isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity. That is, if you want to compete with other dealerships in your area and attract more traffic through an almost effortless online presence. In this ever-increasingly mobile world, an accurate GBP helps customers find you by publicly sharing your location, contact information, customer reviews, products and services, and business hours.

In fact, in a recent report on GBP insights (of over 45,000 profiles across 36 industries), car dealerships had the highest number of calls and website visits through GBP listings. That’s a lot of bang for your buck—especially because setting up a GBP profile is free.

A GBP (formerly known as Google My Business or GMB) is the key to getting pulled into Google’s Map Pack on Google search results, where companies are listed and locations are identified on a corresponding map. High rankings in Google Map Pack mean greater brand visibility and increased customer base. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your dealership has a listing, and that all of your information is accurate, up–to-date, and optimized to engage potential clients and bring in more business.

GBP profiles not only make you easy to find, they also validate your business and manage your reputation, all in one place. Regardless of whether you have a polished website (and especially if you don’t have a website at all), your GBP listing can act as a mini website, where you can:

  • Provide location pin and directions
  • Display reviews
  • Communicate quickly and easily
  • Share images
  • List products and services
  • Post accurate hours
  • Advertise updates and special offers

If you’re new to the GBP world, we’re going to share some necessities to include in your listing—these are mostly quick fill-in-the-blanks when you set your profile up. And, if you already have a listing and are looking to drive even more traffic, we’ll also share a few tips to elevate your digital presence.

GBP Profile Essentials

All GBP profiles are not created equal. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of looking for a local business on Google, dropping the listed pin into your phone’s map, and being led on a wild goose chase through random neighborhood streets, never to locate said shop—this is a GBP listing mishap. In other words, don’t skip any of the set-up steps!

To ensure your customers get the most accurate information, and to optimize your GBP profile to attract more customers, start with these 9 necessities:

  1. Correct category description
    For your description, you can choose from a drop-down of selections. For an auto dealership, this would likely include:
    • Used Car Dealer (primary)
    • Used Truck Dealer
    • Car Dealer
    • Auto Broker
    • Auto Market
    If your dealership offers services or parts, you should include this as well.
  2. Contact information
    Make sure your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) are listed correctly so people can find you and get in touch with you easily. If they are led astray or reach a disconnected number, you better believe they will move on to the next dealership on the list! If you have a website, confirm the website URL matches your landing page exactly.

    You can also add multiple locations during this stage (and this is an important step to get the best optimization on Google). You can learn more here, straight from the source.
  3. Verify your dealership
    When you add or claim your GBP, Google will ask you to verify your business via phone, text, email, or video. After reviewing your verification, which can take up to seven business days, Google will send you a notification when you’re officially “on the map.” You can learn more about Google’s verification process here.
  4. Create a short name
    Once your account is verified, you can create a short name, specific to your car dealership and perhaps the area you serve. For example, if you are Bob’s Auto in Colorado Springs, you might opt for the short name “bobsautocos.” This makes it easier for customers to find you and—if applicable—help distinguish your various locations.
  5. Current business hours
    Have you ever showed up to a restaurant to find a, “Closed for a holiday party!” sign blocking your hungry path? This is never a joyful surprise. Be sure to update your current business hours with accurate times and relevant holiday closures so that your customers know they will be greeted by open doors (and an actual employee) upon their arrival.
  6. Unique business description
    This is an opportunity to set yourself apart, listing your unique offerings and a detailed explanation of your dealership to differentiate yourself from competitors. Include clear details about your products and services, the area that you serve, and a few keywords to increase your chances of showing up on relevant searches.

    A helpful template:
    [Business name] provides [service, search term]. We have been serving the [city, state] for more than [time in business]. [Value statement.]

    For example:
    Bob’s Auto Sales has provided quality pre-inspected used cars and trucks for the greater St. Louis area since 1937. We offer financing and a 30-day buyer satisfaction return policy.
  7. Quality photos
    Fact: businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location and 35% more clicks through to their website!

    Photos are a great opportunity to show off your shop, staff, and cars! Share a variety of high-quality pictures that give potential customers a glimpse into their future shopping experience.

    Google algorithm values images, which means that including high-quality photos makes you rank higher in listings. At a minimum, try to include two to three images of the following:
    • Exterior
    • Interior
    • Products or services
    • Photos at work
    • Common areas
    • Team photos
  8. Respond to reviews
    Simply put, better reviews lead to higher rankings.

    Find ways to ask for reviews and ask often! Customer testimonials spread the word about your business and help attract new customers. The average car dealership has 106 reviews on their GBP profile listing! Responding consistently to your GBP reviews (the positive ones and the negative ones) shows people that you not only value their business, but that you care about them as humans. This practice also ensures that you can see and flag any inappropriate negative reviews that didn’t come from real customers.
  9. Turn on messaging
    GBP has a real-time chat functionality (much like Facebook Messenger) that makes it easy for customers to reach out, ask a question, or voice a concern. Data shows that having this option makes customers trust the business more. In fact, 75% of consumers now prefer to engage with a brand over private messaging channels versus traditional channels.

    If you have someone on-site that can immediately respond to queries, be sure to turn on messaging so potential customers can talk to your team directly and quickly. This might make the difference in them choosing you over the next dealership!

The Next Level

Your GBP profile is a simple and effective way to market your dealership. These days, it’s a must-have. And while you can start with the basics, there are also many features that can up your game and make you stand apart from your competitors. Here are a few quick tips to take it up a notch:

  • Keep it professional: Double check spelling and grammar and make sure messaging aligns with your dealership’s values, voice, and personality.
  • Maximize SEO: Include all relevant keywords within your information, description, posts, and picture captions to bump up your ranking on Google searches.
  • Post good photos: High-quality images attract more attention and make your business look good. These should appeal to your customers!
  • Get to know your competitors: Take some time to explore other dealerships—how do they show up on Google? What are they doing well? What are they missing? This intel can help inform how you mimic and how you set yourself apart.
  • Opt into call tracking: This allows you to measure how many calls are coming through your GBP listing (just to convince you further that it’s worth the effort!).
  • Publish frequent posts: These can be a monthly car highlight, a “what’s new” weekly update, listing cars for sale, or any post that shows your GBP is current and your dealership is active.
  • A virtual tour: Add a video tour of your dealership to show off specific cars and what customers can expect from their shopping experience.
  • Note bilingual services: If your dealership offers Spanish-speaking services, be sure to communicate this in your profile and respond to reviews accordingly.
  • Phone a friend: Ask someone outside of your dealership to take a look at your listing to see what’s missing and what can be improved upon. A third-party perspective is always helpful in spotting gaps!

In this digital age, we can’t simply rely on word of mouth or drive-by business. The truth is, many small, family-run auto dealerships don’t have a website (and likely don’t have the staff or skills to establish a high-functioning one). Google Business Profiles can act as a website where you can essentially do it all, and a landing spot for potential customers when they Google “car dealerships near me.”

It’s not enough to have a name and address on a map to truly compete with other local dealerships. Utilizing a GBP to display your business essentials, to showcase your dealership’s unique offerings, and to make true connections with your customers is a quick and essential way to get your business online and spread the word.