Automotive Digital Marketing

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I just finished conducting a 20 Group workshop on digital marketing strategies and all the the dealers in the room had incomplete or inaccurate Google Places data. What was also interesting was that no dealers in the group had more than 15 reviews posted on Google Places.

Once I showed the dealers how easy it was to fix their profiles and setup a process to get customers to post reviews, they were very thankful. They were not aware of the importance of Google Places but now they do so and they can inspect their listings.  Knowledge is power.

From this experience, I decided to remind all members of this community to run through this checklist and make sure that you are leveraging the full potential of Google Places.  Let me know what you found when you looked at your Places page, and share with the community if this checklist helped you.

The Best Free Advertising Resource For Dealers

Google Places is the best free automotive advertising resource for car dealers to increase online visibility, referral website traffic, and phone calls.  Despite this opportunity, many dealers have not completed and optimized their Google Place data.


When you login into your Google Places Dashboard account it will tell you what percentage complete your data is currently. Make sure you edit your profile to achieve a 100% complete status. 

Google Places Optimization (GPO) however goes further than having your profile data 100% complete.  You also want to optimize the consumer experience and enhance your brand message when consumers read your page.  You also want to increase the opportunity to get MORE clicks to your Places Page than local competitors.


Google Places Checklist


Use this checklist to ensure that you have your Google Places listing optimized:

  1. Enter your business name, address, and phone number so that it matches the primary information associated with the local phone company and your OEM website.   Do not use a tracking number unless all OEM listings and all business directories are using this number.
  2. Make sure that you enter your website address and test the link.  You would be surprised to see how many listings still have or the OEM website.
  3. Use all five “business category” tags, which include your OEM brand and the category “Used Car Dealer”.  For example, if you are a Toyota dealer, make sure you pick "Toyota Dealer" as one of your 5 categories.
  4. Complete the “Additional Information” section of the profile to include brands of goods that you sell and related services that include: tires, oil change, brakes, transmission service, and of course used cars.
  5. Load 10 photos and stay away from photos of your building.  Photos should show happy customers taking delivery of a car, your work in the community, OEM awards, or any brand enhancing images. Photos that will make people smile!  Photos of your building will not help to engage your audience.
  6. Load 5 videos and we recommend that three videos be actual customer testimonials.  The remaining two videos can be a welcome to the dealership message and the final video to invite consumers to service their car at your dealership.
  7. Set your “Service Area” beyond the default range of a 20-mile radius around your store location.  For most dealers the range can be comfortably increased to 50 miles.  Dealers near bodies of water can create a custom shape for their service area.  If you need help, you can refer to this article I wrote on custom service areas.
  8. Setup a process to get your customers to post reviews directly to Google Places.  Your goal should be to get at least 30 reviews a month to be posted directly on Google Places.  The Google Places App can help you easily achieve this goal.  Between sales and service there are hundreds of customers that are completely satisfied with your dealership so ask them!
  9. Invest $25 a month to enhance your Google Places listing with a Google Tag.  This yellow highlighted graphic can advertise your monthly specials.  Also, set a process to update your specials each month on Google Places because they will automatically expire in 30 days.
  10. Once your have a strong number of positive reviews on Google Places, consider spending money to advertise your high marks from consumers using Google Boost.  Let your customers speak for you and drive more traffic to your website.

The good news is that once all of these tips are implemented, you can track the increase in impressions, clicks, and activity using Google Places activity reports.   So login to your Google Places account and run through this checklist today.


I'll be sharing more ways for car dealers to leverage free online advertising tools and search optimization strategies at the 2nd Annual Automotive Marketing Boot Camp in Orlando, April 16-18th.  I hope you can be part of that experience.

Views: 163

Tags: automotive advertising, google boost, google places, google places optimization, google tags


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Comment by George Nenni on March 24, 2011 at 10:00am
Great article Brian, very straightforward and helpful. I hadn't seen your mentioned-post on setting service areas, also very useful. Many vendors can help dealers purchase seller-data to help them learn their "market area", their competitors' "market area" to really dial this in strategically.
Comment by James Easter on March 24, 2011 at 8:00am

Thanks so much Brian....have been working on Google Places listings, as well as, many of the other listing sites, for all of our stores over the last several weeks - getting them all consolidated into one dashboard, updated, etc.  Appreciate the checklist - there are a couple of things on there that I can use.


Have a great day!


Gettel Automotive Group

Comment by Matthew O'Such on March 24, 2011 at 7:00am

Great review and advice! I'd also suggest making sure all of your company name, address, phone number and website address match exactly, character for character, with all the other listing sites out there as these are key connectors to getting reviews drawn in to your Google Places from other sources.


Be sure to check up on the most important listing sites to see if your information is listed the same way by going to Some other sites to check up on are: DealerRater, MerchantCircle and! Claim as many accounts as possible and clean up that info!

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