There is a place on the Internet that the largest search engine in the world sends people before they get to your website. It is called Google Places and reflects the importance Google is placing on local search.
Google Places is a profile for your business on Google. It is geographically based so it could also show similar businesses depending on the search words. Can you say “competition?”
Note – without a dynamic Google Places page, it will be very hard for your dealership to rank favorably on local search.
This is something that you don’t want to put off or procrastinate with. You need to claim, optimize and manage your Google Places page.
We are all familiar with having our businesses listed. Remember the Yellow Pages? But in this case, the listing is a gate keeper that can let prospective customers in or keep them out of your website.
Here’s a quick story of how Google Places can affect your business.
Super Motors has always been known for their marketing – great TV commercials, memorable radio spots and always a double truck ad in the Sunday paper. So when the manufacturer announced a $249 lease on their top selling product, they were on it. The next day they lit up the airwaves with the offer.
Sam has been salivating about the car for months. Then, right in the middle of Dancing with the Stars, Super Motors is offering it for $249! Sam opens a new tab from his fantasy DWTS page, and goes to Google. He can never remember URLs so he enters the words Super Motors in Google. Up pops the Google Places map and Super Motors business listing.
Sam now has a choice. He can go to the Places page or the Super Motors web site if it is listed somewhere else in the search results. The lure of the map graphic is difficult to overcome. Like Sam, most will click on the Places Page, which is the Google Places business profile – not your web site.
What Sam sees depends some on you and a lot on everyone else on the Internet. Google will collect reviews from Google users and every other review site they can find on the Web. Some examples are Edmunds, InsiderPages, CitySearch, Yelp, GlassDoor, Judy’s Book, DealerRater, My3Cents, Rip Off Report, SuperPages, YellowBot, Autotropolis, Yahoo and others. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list.
Who do you think filled out the reviews online? Happy or upset customers? Would bad reviews influence Sam where to buy his dream car?
It has been our experience that you can ask your happy customers to fill out online reviews and they will. You just have to be consistent with the request and diligent in monitoring your online reputation.
There is a lot you can do on your Places age. First you have to claim your listing. Google has lots of help for that.
- include a photo of your business
- include a graphic of your logo
- verify your URL and street address
- include a video from your YouTube channel (you have one of those, don’t you?)
- list your store hours
- verify your location on the map (“pin placement”)
- write a brief description of your business
- add categories (as many as you can)
Each of these elements will not only influence prospects like Sam but also increase the ability for others to find you in search. This is one of the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) opportunities available. Did I mention it’s free?
There is more information on how you can make Google Places work for you. Do what everyone else does. Google “Google Places.” There are some great videos that will teach you. Make sure to learn the basics yourself before you hire someone else to help. You will at least need the knowledge to keep your vendor accountable.