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Are you ready for the new Google Maps? Make sure you’re well positioned to take advantage of new opportunities to reach car buyers.
Google made their new Maps product public this week, and the changes are fairly substantial. The layout is cleaner, fullscreen and more modern -- but more importantly, the revamped maps relocate business listings from the left sidebar directly onto the map itself. The upside: more exposure for your dealership on every local search. The catch: You’ll have to make some tweaks to your ad extensions, and pay more attention to your customer reviews.
Reviews – critical, and getting more so
As with many of its recent product changes, the Google Maps facelift is in the service of creating a more engaging, sticky and social experience, with more options for users to explore their local area. Check out this “used cars” search in central Florida:
You’ll see more dots across the entire map, as well as more pushpins than in the current Maps. Gone are the A-B-C rankings. With the exception of review excerpts posting below each dealer’s name, all dealerships in the area will receive equal billing...so if you haven’t been paying close attention to customer reviews, now’s the time to start.
Google+ recommendations will become particularly important, as users can limit businesses displayed to only those making appearances in their Google+ circles, or those recommended by “Top reviewers.” It’s not entirely clear what Google’s criteria are for granting top reviewer status; for now it appears that anyone with a few dozen business reviews attached to their G+ account qualifies.
New advertising opportunities
The example above features an ad for “Used Cars Under $10K” below the search box. Since only one dealer ad appears in the new “info card,” you’d be well served to ensure that both your quality scores and bids are high enough to increase your odds of garnering that coveted slot.
Luckily, there’s also the option of getting your ads on the map itself. Google has posted a quick guide to displaying your business information on Maps (https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2404180?hl=en).
The first step: generate location extensions for ads you’d like to appear on Google Maps. Already running multiple extensions for a particular campaign, such as call and sitelinks? Utilize ad group-level extensions in AdWords’ new Enhanced Campaigns and produce a separate group of ads just for Google Maps.
Next, visit the settings tab and opt your campaign into Google search partners. You’re ready to rock. Interestingly, this change could actually be a boon for dealers. There’s now a possibility for dealers to have two ads appear to users, where in the past you might not have shown up organically.
Organic is still important
Even if you’re not currently running AdWords campaigns, you can still benefit from the new Maps. Here’s how:
Search for your dealership at maps.google.com. Then check any of the listings that appear on your Google+ Local page to confirm your info is correct and that any excerpts associated with your review score are positive. You’ll want to push any reviews that might send up a red flag for a user by soliciting new favorable reviews as quickly as possible.
Not finding your dealership? Visit google.com/placesforbusiness to create a new listing, or claim and correct an existing one.
Keep in mind that the new Google maps is still in beta, so users will have to specifically opt in to using it. But it’s not a stretch to imagine that it will be rolled out across the board sooner rather than later.
You’ll be well ahead of the game if you’ve added location extensions to your ads, brought your business listing up to date, and freshened up your strategy for soliciting and managing online reviews.