How to Fix GMB Department Listings that Show up as Main Listings

Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. This week’s tip will help everyone out there with department listings in Google My Business. If you’ve been affected by the bug that causes one of your department listings to show up on brand searches, I’m going to show you how to fix it and get your primary listing to show instead.

Google allows certain types of businesses to set up department listings that are “nested” as child listings under the primary listing for the business, or “parent” listing. Businesses that are eligible are big box stores like Walmart or Costco, banks, hospitals, universities, and car dealerships.

Obviously, it’s really bad for your business when customers and potential customers do a Google search for your business, and one of your child listings shows up instead of your parent listing. It’s the wrong information and it’s even worse if the wrong hours are displayed.

The bug in Google has caused these child listings to show up instead of the parent listings for the last few months, but thanks to COVID, Google support has been concentrating on health and COVID related issues.

So I’m here today to tell you how to fix it yourself!

Confusing, right? When you’re looking for information, you don’t want one of the kids, you want the parent, or the main business entity.

When you create your Google My Business business department listings, it’s important to remember that the individual elements of each department listing have to be unique: the name, the categories, the phone number, and the URL.

For example, if you’re a car dealer, and you’ve got a service department child listing, you shouldn’t include any service-related categories on your main listing for the dealership, and you shouldn’t include any sales related categories on your department listing. You should also use a phone number that rings directly to the service department, and your URL should link directly to your service department page.

Using the overlapping information can potentially cause problems with how you show up in searches. There are tons of businesses out there that have everything set up correctly, yet still see one of their department listings showing up for brand searches.

I’ve been working with a lot of dealerships lately, and in every case, I was able to fix the problem almost immediately. In fact, the longest it’s taken to get the main dealership to show up in searches for the dealership name was about 4 minutes.

So here’s the issue: for some reason, if you include the name of the dealership in the department listing – especially if it’s listed first – the bug in Google causes the department listing to show up first.

Back in March, Google released an update, and now your dealership departments are listed on your main Google My Business listing. Before, when they weren’t explicitly listed, it was more important to include the dealership name. Now that your main listing displays and links to your department listings, there’s really no reason to include your dealership name on each of the department listings. In fact, it can make your department list look messy and spammy.

With every dealership I’ve helped in the last few weeks, the service department was showing instead of the main department listing. Simply removing the dealership name from the department listing fixed the problem. Whether the dealership name was included before the department or after the department, it worked every time – almost immediately.

So if you’re having the same problem and your website provider or digital marketing partner hasn’t been able to help, I’m here to save the day.

Follow these steps

  • Go to google.com/business and log in to your Google My Business dashboard.
  • Click into the department listing that’s showing up instead of your main dealership listing.
  • Click the “info” link on the left menu, then click the pencil icon next to the department name and delete the dealership name. We suggest naming your department brand/department type, which would be “Ford service”, or add the word “department”, which would be “Ford service department”. You could also go more generic and name it simply “service department”, but including the brand will help you with search visibility when customers search for brand-specific service solutions.
  • Once you click save, it will take a minute or two for the name change to get accepted by Google, and as soon as the name change is accepted, your main dealership listing will start showing whenever someone searches for your dealership name.

It’s really that simple. So if your department listings are showing up instead of your main listing, now you know how to fix it!

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Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at SearchLab, a boutique marketing agency that provides Local SEO and PPC to SMBs all over the US and Canada. He's got over 17 years of online marketing and web design experience, and he’s one of the most in-demand conference speakers at digital marketing conferences all over the world. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.