Internet Marketing and Automotive SEO Strategies for Car Dealers
This week it looks like a number of dealers were impacted by updates to Google Places data that were "unintended" consequences of a master directory update by Google. There are a number of discussions and threads on automotive communities like ADM, DrivingSales, and DealerRefresh, so let me create a synopsis.
First, let me say that a number of GM dealers called me on Monday to express their frustration with an update that impacted their Google Places pages. Many thought that this was a deliberate breach of security on their Google Places account.
Others thought it was related to the pre-announced IMR program email that was sent to GM dealers in January. Here is a copy of the iMR email that was sent to GM dealers.
Please see that the proposed updates were ONLY to apply to unclaimed listings. Google must have assured GM that they would not touch previously claimed Google Places listings.
That is were the Google Places train fell off the tracks.
It seems that this update went very wrong for some dealers. Many dealers have reported that they now have duplicate listings, lost dozens of reviews, and information that has been changed on their CLAIMED Google Places page.
This was not supposed to have happened. Google is aware of the problem, and I have sent them specific examples like those shown above.
All dealers reading this article must take a minute to check their Google Places listing carefully. You need to check the dealership name, phone number, website address, and the categories.
For a number of dealers, their primary website address was changed to the OEM Cobalt website which in some cases is not the primary website that the dealer chose on their Google Places listing. To be clear, here are some examples that were impacted after this update:
In addition to having the dealership website URL over-written with the GM OEM website, the categories on many dealers were also over-written with bogus catagories that are not supported by Google Adwords Express.
For example, Crispin Chevrolet had the following "correct" categories on their Google Places Page:
Chevrolet Dealer, Used Car Dealer, Car Dealer, Truck Dealer, Oil Change Service
as of today, post update, they have these categories:
Used Car Dealer, Chevrolet Ann Arbor Dealer, Detroit Chevrolet Dealer, Chevrolet Dealer, Car Dealer, Auto Repair Shop, Truck Dealer, Auto Repair, Retail Stores - Automobiles - Used, Automobile Dealers
Google Places is supposed to only allow five standardized categories but as you can see, there are 10 Categories now showing on their listing page. This is a mess because any dealer running Adwords Express just got their advertising categories screwed up.
If your Google Places page has been impacted in any way, here is my summary and recommended steps:
So, if you have a Claimed Google Places listing and some of the data is wrong, I would log in and fix it as long as there is not a duplicate page that was created by the update process.
If a duplicate listing was created, and your claimed page is correct, for NOW, I would not change a thing on your good page. I would report the duplicate and wait.
If your page data is correct and you just lost reviews, wait. Just check that the URL and phone number is correct.
Here are the two links to submit problems to the Google Places team regarding your listing:
For incorrect information (or other issues) on any external listing, please visit this troubleshooter:http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?page=ts.cs&t...
For difficulties verifying a listing (either via PIN or bulk verification), please visit this troubleshooter:http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?page=ts.cs&t...
These linked should help start a process of resolution, according to the Google Jumpstart Automotive Team.
The Google Places team came out to the Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in February, and we hope to have them back for the Automotive Boot Camp since the attendees go so much help from them face to face.
I have submitted my examples of issues directly with Google and I was promised that they would be forwarded to the GP team.
Won't it be a great day when the Google Places platform is cut-over to a stable platform that includes real-time updates?