How to Nest Department Listings in Google My Business

After several recent presentations to auto dealers and last week’s video about fixing Google My Business department listings that are showing up instead of primary listings, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about department listings. Even though car dealers have been eligible for department listings for a few years now, there are tons of dealers out there who don’t have them set up yet, and they want to know how to do it. So today, I’m going to walk you through the process.

First, let’s talk about which departments you can set up. Independent dealers, you’re not eligible for departments unless you’re a dealership that provides service. Franchise dealers, you’re eligible for a single service department listing and a single parts department listing.

If you’re a dealership that sells multiple brands out of a single showroom – GM and FCA dealers, this means you – you’re also eligible for a department listing for each brand you sell. Keep in mind, that’s only for the sales side, you can’t add a separate service or parts listing for each brand.

So if you’re eligible and don’t have departments set up, let’s look at how to do it.

Claim Your “Phantom” Department Listings

First, you’ll want to check and see if you already have departments. We call them “phantom listings” because Google added them to tons of dealerships automatically, and most of the time they aren’t visible in searches.

Do a Google Maps search for your dealership, then zoom in. If you have “phantom listings”, they’ll show up at either the next to last or last zoom level. They’ll be labeled “[brand] service” or “[brand] parts”, and they’ll be unclaimed.

If you’ve got them, make sure you’re logged into the same Google account that owns your primary dealership listing and claim the listings. Most of the time, you’ll be approved instantly. If not, you’ll have to go through the standard postcard verification process.

Once they’re claimed, they’ll automatically be nested as department listings under your main listing.

Set Up Department Listings From Scratch

If you don’t have any “phantom listings” and you need to set up your departments, you’ll have to start from scratch. The process is the same, regardless of which type of department you’re setting up. 

Head over to, using the same account that owns your main dealership listing. Click the blue “Add location” button and enter all the information for the department listing.

You’ll most likely have to use the postcard verification method. It takes anywhere from 10 to 15 business days for the postcard to arrive. Don’t make any changes to the pending listing while you’re waiting for the code. If you do, it will void the code that’s already on the way and you’ll have to request another one.

Once you’ve got the card, log back in and enter the verification code.

Once the listing is verified, you’ll need to get it set up as a department. The easiest way is to do a Google search for the listing, and click “suggest an edit”. Once the form pops up, enter the name of the main dealership Google My Business listing in the field labeled “located inside of”. 

Once you click save, the edit will be sent to Google and you’ll have to wait a few days for the edit to be approved. Once it’s approved, it will be listed as a department on the main listing, and on the department listing it will add a line that says it’s located inside of the main dealership.

If your suggested edit doesn’t work, you can contact GMB support on Twitter by tweeting to @googlemybiz and asking them to set up the department relationship for you.

Like I outlined in last week’s video, make sure that your department listings have unique information. They need unique categories that aren’t included in your other listings, a phone number that rings directly to the department, and the website link should point to that department’s page on your website.

So now you know how to set up department listings for your dealership so you’re providing a better customer experience when your dealership shows up in local searches.

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.