Google Update: Car Dealer Listings, Events Removed, Image Reviews

Google Update

Local Rank Flux

It’s been quiet on the ranking side of things … just a slight uptick on Tuesday (3/10). Generally, we don’t get excited about that unless we see more than one day in a row and an increase in “flux” over those days. We’ll keep an eye out and let you know if this manifests into anything to be concerned about.

BrightLocal Local Rank Flux

New GMB Guidelines for Car Dealers

Google has changed the guidelines for how new car dealers can list their different brands on GMB. Previously, a dealership could only list their sales division as one GMB listing. Separate listings were allowed for service or parts if they had a separate entrance. Now, dealers of new cars can have a GMB listing for every brand they contract with.

Take the hypothetical scenario of a Dodge / Chrysler / Jeep / Ram dealer. They can now have a listing for “BrandX Dodge”, another for “BrandX Jeep”, another for “BrandX Chrysler”, and yet another listing for “BrandX Ram.”

We can’t help but wonder why car dealers were given this special dispensation. Other industries sign product contracts as well. Painting contractors come to mind as they represent specific brands like Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, etc. 

While this may seem like a great thing for car dealers, keep in mind that the downside to multiple listings is a review profile that’s scattered and diluted … and that will require an increase in manpower to monitor, grow review profiles, and maintain the listings. More may not always be better.

Changes to Event Visibility in Maps

For many businesses that host events, those events will display on their Google My Business listing. Until recently these events showed on both Maps view of the listing and the Local Knowledge Panel in search. However, the events section on Google Maps listings appears to have been removed. Events are still showing up in the search results knowledge panel, but when you click through to the maps result for that knowledge panel, the events are removed from the listing.

Events no longer listed on GMB listings in maps view
Events still shown on GMB listings in the search knowledge panel

Local Service Ads for Personal Injury Lawyers

Until now, Google Local Service Ads (LSAs) were only available for immigration and estate planning attorneys. But this week, invitations have been sent to personal injury lawyers inviting them to the Local Service Ads program. Ben Fisher, a GMB Platinum Product Expert, announced it on Twitter.

Attorney listings are labeled as “Google Screened” ads versus “Google Guaranteed” ads as Google cannot guarantee the work per se. We’ll probably start seeing these at the top of personal injury search queries in test markets in the near future.

The invitation Ben shared was for a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, so that’s likely one of the first test markets. The personal injury category is highly competitive and not always a spam-free vertical. We’re interested to see what the cost-per-lead numbers are on this one.

Editor’s Note – Be sure to check out Tom Waddington’s training webinar, Best Practices for Google Local Services Ads.

Drama Around GMB Images Being Reviewed

Just recently, Google shared its existing policy regarding user-uploaded images (i.e. Local Guides) and also photos that businesses add to their GMB listings.

Cue the drama … and we fell for it too! But this is not a new policy, they were just re-sharing their existing policy. It seems that Google just wanted to reiterate that it discourages the use of stock photography and images with too much text … among other violations.

While they have a photo / video policy, enforcement is always an issue when it comes to Google My Business. We see plenty of exceptions that slip through the cracks. 

The share was initially misinterpreted by some to mean that Google now manually reviews every uploaded image which isn’t true. Every image does go through review, but it’s algorithmic and automated. And as we all know these automated algorithms aren’t fool-proof.