Google Local Search Customization: What Car Dealers Need to Know

In today’s fast-paced digital era, understanding search engine nuances is more crucial than ever, especially for businesses vying for local attention. For car dealerships, grasping Google’s local search customization is essential. However, there’s a trap many fall into: the vanity search. Let’s delve into what this means and why dealerships should approach it with caution.

Understanding Google’s Personalized Search

How It Works

Google isn’t just a search engine; it’s a smart tool that customizes user experiences. Relying on user activity, past searches, and a slew of other factors, Google tailors search results for each individual. This journey began with the innovative “social search” and has evolved into the sophisticated “personalized search” we know today.

Implications for Car Dealerships

For car dealers, this means a search for their dealership from their premises might show their website ranking prominently. However the results could be vastly different for a potential customer searching from home. Therefore, making decisions based solely on these “vanity searches” might give a skewed perception of the online visibility of a dealership.

How Location Influences Google Search Results

Location Determinants: Have you ever wondered why searching for ‘best car deals’ might show different results from different locations? Google uses myriad signals like IP addresses, device GPS, previous search data, and more to pinpoint a user’s location, subsequently refining their search results.

Effects on Search Results: This location data is leveraged to cater search results more relevant to a user’s immediate locale. So, for a car dealership, while a local search might prioritize that dealership, the same might not be true for someone even a few miles away.

Location Influences Google Search Results

The Vanity Search Pitfall

The Temptation of Googling Your Business

It’s tempting to gauge online visibility by merely Googling one’s business. However, this is one of the least effective ways to truly grasp how your dealership is faring online. Google’s results for such a search are more a mirror to one’s own online behavior than a true reflection of global or even local visibility.

Decision-making based on Vanity Searches

Basing SEM or marketing decisions on vanity searches can be a grave error. Instead of a comprehensive view, they provide a narrow, personalized perspective, which can lead to misguided strategies.

Reliable Metrics and Sources for Decision-making

Google Analytics

Before making any strategic decisions, dive into Google Analytics. It offers insights into website traffic patterns, user behaviors, and the paths they take to conversion. Here, dealerships can get a holistic view of their online performance.

Google Search Console

Another invaluable tool, the Google Search Console, provides insights into organic search performance, keywords that are ranking, and overall website health.

Google Business Profile

For local businesses, especially car dealerships, this is gold. Customer reviews, location visibility, and engagement metrics—all provide a real-world pulse on what customers and potential customers are saying and how they’re interacting with your business.

In conclusion, while Google’s mechanisms for search are intricate and ever-evolving, understanding the basics of local search customization is vital for car dealerships. Instead of falling into the vanity search pit, dealerships should focus on verified data sources to shape their marketing strategies. Partnering with experts in SEM advertising can offer car dealers the edge they need, ensuring they effectively navigate the intricacies of Google search to drive business and reach potential customers effectively.

Marco Camacho, Principal, TAAA
About the author

Marco Camacho is the Founder and Principal of The Automotive Advertising Agency, with decades of experience in the automotive advertising industry. With a passion for cars and marketing, Marco has dedicated his career to helping auto dealerships achieve unparalleled success through strategic and innovative advertising campaigns. Leading a talented team of experts across offices in Austin, Los Angeles, and New York, Marco oversees operations and ensures the agency’s continued excellence. Marco’s journey began 35 years ago in car sales at Lone Star Volkswagen in San Antonio, Texas. Excelling in understanding customer needs and providing exceptional service, he expanded his expertise to prestigious brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini. However, driven by ambition and a desire for innovation, Marco transitioned into advertising and media, following in his father’s footsteps as a broadcasting pioneer. Starting as an advertising sales professional at a local radio station, he merged his passion for automobiles with his growing knowledge of marketing and media dynamics.