As you might have heard, we’ve been busy here in the land of Oz. On April 1st, 2013, Suzuki of Wichita became Subaru of Wichita, which meant we had a lot of switching to do.
In the digital realm, I was most concerned about our listings across Google properties, and I’ll be the first to admit–I didn’t do everything perfectly. But then again — there’s not a good instruction manual for this. Straight up–changing anything on Google can be a challenge, and I’ll admit I wasn’t very optimistic about what would happen.
At several points in this process, however, Google surprised me.
For the sake of sharing what I learned from this experience, I documented what happened on which days with the hope of gaining some insight into how Google works. Of course, I’m not suggesting that if you do the same things I did, you’ll get the same results–this is just what happened for us. First, here’s what we were working with prior to the transition:
On April 1st, Suzuki of Wichita (at 11610 E. Kellogg, Wichita, KS) would transform into the brand new Subaru of Wichita.
The old Subaru of Wichita (located at 1633 N. Rock Road) would be turning into a second Super Car Guys location to be called Super Car Guys East.
If this wasn’t confusing enough, the old Subaru of Wichita was listed on Google and Bing as “Subaru of Witcha.”
In mid-March, our team moved into place at the old Subaru of Wichita location to start preparing for the transition. Suzuki of Wichita was to stay open right up until March 30th, as we still had a large selection of discounted Suzukis to sell, so we didn’t want to start changing Suzuki of Wichita-branded properties until the time was right, so as to prevent confusion. This whole thing was confusing enough!
So, without further ado, here’s a timeline of what happened (the good, the bad, and the ugly):
3/25/13: Knowing that it might take a few days, I attempted to update our Suzuki of Wichita Google+ fan page to Subaru of Wichita, but the edit was not accepted. I’d verified our page through the postcard verification process weeks ago.
Additionally, I updated the old Subaru of Wichita Google Maps listing to Super Car Guys East, using the “Report a Problem” function.
3/28/13: Subaru of Wichita @ 11610 E. Kellogg started showing up on Google Maps, which was nice, but the Suzuki of Wichita Google+ page still said Suzuki instead of Subaru. Not really knowing what to do, I tried to edit the information a second time to no avail.
4/4/13: The Suzuki of Wichita Google+ Page still said Suzuki, so I went ahead and created a new page for the new Subaru of Wichita. I added some photos, started following some of the same people we’re following on the Suzuki page, and requested the verification postcard to be sent.
4/8/13: The Google postcard arrived for the new Subaru of Wichita G+ page, so I entered the pin number and verified the page successfully. So, we had both a Suzuki of Wichita and a Subaru of Wichita Google+ fan page for the same address here in Wichita.
4/10/13: I received an email from Google stating that the Suzuki of Wichita Google+ page would in fact be changed to Subaru of Wichita. I was shocked. Google was actually letting us keep our following, page, and reviews for the switch from Suzuki to Subaru. BUT, now there were two listings on Google Maps for Subaru of Wichita at the new address! Confused yet? I edited our website information on our Google+ page, a proposed change which, again, didn’t show immediately to the public. In the screenshot below, notice how the “A” listing still has our old website.
4/11/13: I attempted to edit our category information on our G+ fan page from “Suzuki Dealer” to “Subaru Dealer,” a change that wasn’t accepted immediately either. We had Skyler Livingston, the only Google Trusted Business Photographer in the state of Kansas (who luckily lives in the Wichita area) come out to reshoot the inside of our showroom to show the Subarus on display, and he advised me to delete the new Subaru of Wichita Google+ page that I had created, and keep the original one that had much more content, reviews, and so forth.
4/12/13: Google Inside View went live for Subaru of Wichita at the correct address, looked great, and seemed good to go. Then, I got a phone call that literally shocked me: A real live Google Maps representative called me to verify the name change from Suzuki to Subaru of Wichita. I was so stunned I forgot to ask some other questions I had for them. Last year, when we went back and forth with Google about hundreds of our hard-earned reviews disappearing, we were never able to get anyone on the phone to answer questions about the service. But Google Maps was calling us? Incredible.
Also on the 12th, the website information on our G+ fan page reflected the correct URL for our new website: ridehomehappy.com.
4/16/13: Google called again to verify our category change from Suzuki to Subaru. This time, they didn’t identify themselves as being from Google Maps, so they were unable to answer the questions I didn’t get to ask the first time around. If you’ve ever talked to a Google rep on the phone, you know that if what you’re asking about is not in their department, you might as well be dealing with a brick wall. This Google rep also wanted to verify a few of our toll free numbers, which I was happy to help her with.
4/17/18: The Google Postcard for Super Car Guys East arrived, so I verified that page.
I had deleted all of the Suzuki-themed photos from our Subaru of Wichita G+ page, but Suzuki photos were still showing up on our G+ Local listing. When I clicked on these photos, I discovered that they were being hosted on a Google+ page called “Local photos,” with thousands of albums of other business photos as well. I brought this up in the DealerRefresh forum and flagged these photos as being “unwanted commercial content or spam.”
4/18/13: The photos I flagged the day before were actually removed! Talk about efficient.
4/21/13: New photos and points of interest from our latest Google Inside view were added to the “Local photos” page, and our category was finally changed to “Subaru Dealer.”
Overall, I was impressed with how Google worked. Those of you who followed Suzuki of Wichita’s story about losing hundreds of Google Reviews last year know that I was outspoken in my criticism of how they handled the whole incident, but here, I must give credit where it’s due. Google came across as not only a responsible company dedicated to correct information, but they conducted themselves like a human company as well.
What didn’t work as well? Bing Maps. Utterly terrible. Here’s the timeline:
4/4/13: I verified and attempted to update the Subaru of Wichita listing on Bing Maps and made a note to myself to check back.
After repeated verification and editing attempts, the SERP is still a mess.
Takeaway? Be more patient with Google than I was. If you have to change brand names, give yourself plenty of time and they just might surprise you. Though I still wish we could have changed our YouTube channel URL, it was a nice touch to let us keep our Google+ fan page, content, and reviews.
Have you embarked on similar adventures with the murky beast that is Google?
Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments box below!