String's Automotive Marketing Blog

How Car Dealers Can Take Advantage of the New Google Maps

Posted by Matthew Kolodziej

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Jul 22, 2013 10:46:00 AM

A new Google Maps means new opportunities to reach in-market buyers. Make sure your dealership is there.

This week, Google opened the doors to their new Maps product, and the changes are more than skin deep. Along with its prettier, full-screen facelift, the new Google Maps moves business listings from the left sidebar and places them directly on the map itself. That means more exposure for your dealership on every local search...but the strategy for sem and customer reputation management for car dealers may change slightly.

Reviews – more important than ever 

Google is pushing for a more interactive and social experience, which means users will spend more time and have more options exploring their local area. See this screen shot for a “used cars” search in central Florida:

New Google Maps for Car Dealers resized 600

Not only are there more dots across the entire map, but there are more pushpins than in the current Maps, and no A-B-C ranking. Instead, all dealers in the area receive equal billing – the only differentiator being the little snippets that Google grabs from your reviews and posts below your business name.

Users also have the option to limit the businesses displayed to only those making appearances in your Google+ circles, or those recommended by “Top reviewers.” While it’s still a little unclear exactly what Google’s criteria are for naming someone a top reviewer, for now it seems like anyone with a few dozen business reviews attached to their G+ account qualifies.

New advertising opportunities

In the example above, you will notice an ad for “Used Cars Under $10K” below the search box. Since there’s only room for one dealer ad in that new “info card,” make sure your ads have a high enough quality score (and bid) to appear there.

It’s also possible to get your ads on the map itself. Google has already posted a quick guide to getting your ads to show on the new Maps, and it’s a relatively easy two-step process.

First, create location extensions for any ads that you want to run on Google Maps. If you’re already running multiple extensions for a particular campaign (sitelinks and call, for example), take advantage of ad group-level extensions in AdWords’ new Enhanced Campaigns to create a separate group of ads that’s focused purely on Google Maps.

After that, make sure your campaign is opted into Google search partners in the settings tab. Then you’re all set. If you play your cards right, you can have two ads appear for searchers where you wouldn’t normally appear organically: (note: prepare for a shameless plug of a String customer)

Local Extensions in New Google Maps resized 600

Don’t forget organic

Dealers who aren’t running AdWords campaigns can still make sure they are positioned to take advantage of the new Maps.  Here's a step-by-step to-do list to tackle:

  1. Go to maps.google.com and search for your dealership name.
  2. If your listing pops up, click into your Google+ Local page to ensure that all information is correct and that the “At a glance” snippets below your review score are favorable. 
  3. If your reviews include phrases like “high pressure,” then you will want to work on getting new positive reviews on there as soon as possible.
  4. If you see any information that’s incorrect, or you can’t find your business listing at all, then go to google.com/placesforbusiness to claim and update your listing or create a new one.

Although the new Maps is open for business, it’s still in beta, which means that users will have to specifically click on the “Get the new Google Maps” link to access it. But rest assured that Google plans on rolling it out to everybody soon enough. 

Be ready for the shift by making sure your business listing is up to date and your ads have location extensions.

Topics: google analytics, sem/ppc