In this week's episode of Local Search Tuesdays, we share the details about Google's crazy update to the rules for Google My Business for car dealers. Watch to learn what's changed, what it means, and how to adjust your strategy for the future.
Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays! This week I’ve got a crazy update to share… Google has just changed the rules around Google My Business listings for car dealers!
There wasn’t even an announcement, outside of Twitter - but it’s potentially a massive update to the rules. In the past, dealers had to follow the standard Google My Business rules - to be eligible for a listing, they had to have a physical storefront, permanent signage, and a separate entrance.
A few years ago, Google updated the rules and allowed dealerships to have department listings, and at the time, we called them “phantom listings” because they were automatically created for most dealers.
This is, in a way, an extension of that update.
So here’s what happened. Someone reached out to me on Twitter asking about the proper way to set up GMB listings and department listings, and they cc’ed the GMB twitter support team - and Brad from that team replied that dealers are eligible for a listing for each brand at the location.
This set off a furious round of discussions in the Local SEO community, since that clearly hadn’t been the case before. And sure enough, just after that, the official support document was updated and included the new rules for car dealers.
Dealers ARE now allowed one listing per brand.
Now, this wasn’t much of a problem before. If you had a dealer group with several stores clustered together, you could already have separate listings.
FCA dealers and GM dealers are the ones who really get the benefit (or maybe the downside) of this update. A typical FCA dealer sells Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and RAM - but is a single entity in the real world. It’s always one building, one sales team, etc. So traditionally, that’s only one GMB listing.
With the rule update, they’re eligible to ADD a listing for each brand, basically as department listings. So if the dealership is Giff Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, they’d now have
The main listing for Giff Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM
Giff Jeep Giff RAM
Giff Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM Service
Giff Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM Parts
Why would they make this update? Who knows… I’ve done SEO for car dealers for about 12 years now, and it’s only been really fringe cases where separate GMBs were a problem. Like, random combos of brands in a really small town, so it was one building that sold Ford, Volvo, and Toyota - but Google wouldn’t allow a separate GMB since it was one small building.
This is great for those small guys, cause it makes sense to have a separate GMB listing for each brand, since each brand is a separate site.
But for CDJR dealers, it’s always been - and still is - one business entity. This is only going to confuse consumers, and it’s likely going to dilute your review profile since customers can now leave reviews in multiple places.
BUT - if you’re in a crowded market, and you’re the first dealership to add the brand listings, you’ll likely win in the short term. If Giff CDJR is the first dealership to set up an individual Jeep listing, then they’re likely to blow everyone else out of the water when customers in that area search for “jeep dealer” or any phrase like that.
One last note - this doesn’t apply to used cars. Franchise guys can’t set up a “used cars” department listing, and independent dealers are still only allowed the one listing they’ve always had.
So, now you know about the crazy GMB update that just rolled out for car dealers. And you know what time it is… put your hand on the screen right here - we totally just high fived cause you learned something awesome. Thanks again for watching, and we’ll see you next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.