Dealership Marketing

Geo targeting for Google Maps and GPS-applications

Google Maps and Geo Targeting Your Websites

Google Maps is the #1 organic advertising tool for most car dealers but how Google Maps actually works is a mystery to many of us in the SEO community.  For example, one New Jersey car dealer’s Google Maps listing is displayed over 17,000 a month.

What has been a challenge for many car dealers is determining why certain car dealer listings show in Google Maps when consumers do a county or statewide search.  I have tested hundreds of scenarios where a Google Local Business listing is correct but it does not show for searches that you would expect it to appear.

With GPS enabled mobile phones and geo targeted search marketing applications like on the rise, I started to look into how websites are geo-targeted.  It started with a conversation with Alex Snyder at Checkered Flag because all his dealer websites are a sub-domain off of and not on a standalone domain name.  What that means is that Checkered Flag Toyota is located at and not on

In the case of all the Checkered Flag store websites, they are hosted off a primary domain and Google Maps was not behaving properly for some of the store listings.  As Alex and I discussed this matter, Alex took it on his own initiative to see how other franchise chains handled mapping multiple stores off a central website.

Alex found that Best Buy ( had a directory page for each store in their chain and that each page showed very well in organic search as well as in Google Maps.  When we looked deeper, we found that each store listing page had implemented GEO tags on the page using longitude and latitude settings.

When I searched for the Best Buy store in Eatontown New Jersey the top search result was: .  You will notice that just like Checkered Flag, all the stores are pages in a sub-domain but Best Buy was NOT having any issue with Google Maps and search results.

When you view the source code for this page two things jumped out at me; one line in the HEAD and one line in an H1 tag:

  • xmlns:geo=””
  • <h1 property=”geo:lat_long” content=”40.2908597,-74.0503975″>Best Buy – Eatontown</h1>

It looks like Best Buy added GEO tags to their store location in the H1 tag. This was the first time I saw GEO tags in an H1 tag, which got me motivated to take some time into understanding the purpose of the GEO tags.

My research showed that there are a few ways to implement GEO tagging, one is using this W3 syntax formatting and a second way was using META tags.

GEO Tagging In WordPress

I asked my WordPress programming team how they would implement GEO tagging in a php environment and after some research, they decided that it would be better to add the GEO tags in the META data.


So we created a WordPress plug-in that allows the longitude and latitude to be entered via the control panel.   With this plug-in installed, WordPress microsites will turn this data into commands in the HEAD tags of the website pages.  These are the tags for our Boston car dealers website at

<meta name=”ICBM”          content=”42.3583333,-71.0602778″>
<meta name=”geo.position”  content=”42.3583333;-71.0602778″>
<meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Boston”>
<meta name=”geo.region”    content=”MA”>

Car Dealer Website Platforms Should Add GEO Tags

I’m writing this article because I want to challenge the automotive website community to implement GEO tagging for car dealer websites.  The ideal tags for dealer websites should be the EXACT latitude and longitude that Google Maps displays for their local business listing

With a tsunami of website applications that are GEOP aware, I think it will be important for car dealers to have the correct GEO tags on their websites.

Getting The Correct GEO Tags For Your Store

You can get the latitude and longitude from your Google Local Business listing by following the steps below:

1.  Search your business name so that Google Maps appear
2.  Copy the EXACT street address you have displayed on your business listing.

3.  Go To Google Maps
4.  Paste the EXACT Street Address and search Google Maps

5.   When your map comes up, click on the “Link” button on the upper right corner to display the hyperlink to your business listing:


6.  Copy the link into a text editor.  The text looks like this:,+Miami,+FL%E2%80%8E&sll=25.766562,-80.205173&sspn=0.012986,0.020278&gl=us&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=665+SW+8th+St,+Miami,+Miami-Dade,+Florida+33130&ll=25.76631,-80.20438&spn=0.012986,0.021865&z=16

7.   The Latitude and Longitude that GOOGLE uses in shown in RED and GREEN.  Notice that the GREEN number is negative.
8.  Use these two numbers for the GEO tags on the Home Page of your website.

Do GEO Tags Matter?

Some have said that GEO tags on a website do not matter.  You can even find some articles where Google says that they ignore these tags.  In my opinion, regardless of what Google says, GEO tags will be important to ensure that your website shows properly in local search.

I have a hunch that adds GEO tags will be a benefit to car dealers as well as creating more external links to your Google Business listing page.  Time will tell…

Nice article Brian (of course I'd say that)! I'm thinking this makes a ton of sense for foursquare, yelp, whrrl and other sites that offer "check-in" services. I'm also thinking that those applications' increasing popularity will eventually spark something from Google beyond their Buzz product. I'm noticing that Google is giving some priority in search results to foursquare and whrrl.

As for Google Maps, I think the biggest thing one can do is get phone numbers, email addresses, and URL's to match in all directory services. This is where we struggle in a major way at Checkered Flag. We've been around for over 46 years and have made many location changes in that time. The yellowpages has at least 2 different (wrong) listings for almost every location. When you compound all the directory services it is no wonder Google is confused as to which location is which.

I've been fighting with Google Maps/Local for over 3 years now. However, if we have found that using GPS coordinates might help Google at least get the map part right then we can at least stop the problem where customers are showing up at the wrong location (fortunately all our stores are fairly close together).
I find this very interesteing and will start using this thanks for the info Brian, Alex and jeff. I tend to agree that google isnt telling us everything about how they run and operate google maps some sort or wierd guarded secret!!!!!
Few businesses push the gas pedal down as hard as Google.

Google is departmentalized. Google's Left Hand often has no idea what the Google Right Hand is doing.

In my camp, there is a universal rule that always works when gaming Google. If what your doing helps you establish your site's authority, then do it, Google will like it.
I started looking around today at car dealer websites to see how many are using the GEO tagging. I only could find one site that was doing it exactly as I stated above, that was VinSolutions.

Their website at has the GEO tags in the home page META data that matches exactly with the Google Maps listing.

So it looks like some folks have been reading up the this strategy!
  • J
  • March 16, 2010
Any chance that plug in is available for download?
A good "how to" for Google Maps but the real answer to the question is - no.

The inclusion of geo-tags will not help you in SERP positioning. Its not the Google way. (Yahoo and Bing might use them initially, but I doubt it for the same reason Google won't) And the reason Google won't use geo-tags is...because geo-tags can be used to game the SERPs.

Think about it. Your dealership is on the outskirts of a major metropolitan area. What are you going to do to get more exposure to the largest possible audience?

A big part of the SEO game is to learn how the search engines think. And they think you are going to trick them if you can, when it will benefit you, and that might cause them to serve erroneous results. And they would be right.

I know Google, I've worked with Google. Geo-tags are a waste of time. I'll bet on it. Ever hear of the Revisit-After Tag? Same thing.

Beyond those basics, there are SEO techniques to get your dealership better SERP position on Google Maps, but that's another story ;)
Thanks Brian!

You know, I added those GEO META tags to our dealer website platform a couple years ago. Every single one of our sites has it... and to this day... I have no idea if it helps with anything at all. But seemed like the right thing to do at the time and it couldn't hurt!

I would be interested to learn more if anyone has seen these GEO meta tags help with anything.

C'mon dood, your not a noob. Think deeper.

Your geo-tag black hat logic was LAME.
Jeff or Alex,

Please delete my comment to invite Troy to comment (above). I just visited Troy's personal promotion platform (his web site) and it's packed with criticisms and no real information. This is the exact model used in his reply above.

Compare and contrast Troy's personal promotion methodology to Mr. Transparency, Brian Pasch, a real DR community asset.
I took out your invite remark for you Joe.
What you stumbled upon on Best Buy is a microformat (subset of "Rich Snippets"). These are standardized ways of listing certain objects in HTML. Google actually has a Rich Snippet validator to confirm they are parsing these correctly. We have these elements on a number of our sites, but until recently the spec really only supported people and reviews. Google now supports businesses and events as well. Although there is no definitive evidence that the geo aspect of the business microformat can change your business' location on Google maps, microformats themselves have many benefits. If you would like to discuss the broader ramifications of these let me know.
  • M
    Michael D. Healy
  • March 17, 2010
Google Maps incorrectly indexing your company?

Not quite alone there:;art_aid=124254

As always with the internet, trust but verify ~often.
Alex, you are absolutely correct. Map listings are partially driven by compiled information from authoritative directory services. If your information isn&#039;t synced, you will have problems. Not only that, it helps with your overall SEO. Another ingredient in the SEO secret sauce.
Richard you pretty much hit the nail on the head. If your listings are congruent across multiple mediums it appears that google will recognize your listing as being the most relevant.

In addition to that you need to

Complete your profile - images, videos, hours, payment methods, etc...
Build some links with good anchor text to your map listings. Including passing some link equity from your main website back to your map listing.

Make sure when you are syncing up there is a link to your website in your example.

  • B
  • September 26, 2010
Just curious... how do you guys test out results in areas out side of where you are doing SEO testing from. For instance, I am unable to get accurate local or organic results for my wife&#039;s massage business located in West Hartford, CT 06117, when I am testing from our home office in West Hartford, CT 06119. Is there any way to view accurate results for areas outside of your own? How do professional SEO companies test outside of their area with geo-targeting playing such a major role in seo these days?

Thanks for any help.


You can use the Adwords preview tool which you can use to show how a search page looks like in a different zipcode or city.

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  • B
  • September 26, 2010
Thanks Brian, that&#039;s very helpful, however it does not trigger the local 7-pack which is our main source of site traffic.
What is a 7-Pack?
7-Pack = Local Search Map with 7 map pins (results). Used to be called the 10 Pack.

car dealer near boston ma
<a href=";expIds=17259,23756,24692,24878,24879,26212,26751&amp;sugexp=ldymls&amp;xhr=t&amp;q=car+dealer+near+boston+ma&amp;cp=3&amp;pf=p&amp;sclient=psy&amp;aq=f&amp;aqi=&amp;aql=&amp;oq=car+dealer+near+boston+ma&amp;gs_rfai=&amp;pbx=1&amp;fp=8d9c50a61d5b9175" rel="nofollow">;expIds=17259,237...</a>
  • B
  • September 26, 2010
The Google Local Listings 7-pack. For instance, if you were to type &quot;car dealership virginia beach&quot; or just type &quot;car dealership&quot; into google, you&#039;ll get the local listings 7-pack (which could be anywhere from 1-7 results depending on the search term &amp; area). These are the top local (Google Places)results for the keywords you have entered.

If you were to just type &quot;car dealership&quot; Google Places will show the top results from your area since they know where you&#039;re searching from.
I have a new &quot;trick&quot; to share if you want your dealership to appear in the Google Maps listings (7-pack)for OEM brands other than your own.

Any interest?
  • T
  • October 25, 2010
I&#039;m interested Brian. I&#039;m going to try your geo code regardless of the criticism cos it can&#039;t hurt. I appreciate the comments about syncing addresses cos it reminded me that I have a PO Box and a street address so I must go and check all those.

You can also use to hide your location from the search engines. If you&#039;d like to see how you rank in other countries - there is a Firefox plugin called Google Global (made by an SEO company in Ireland I think) Though, for an auto dealership, I&#039;m not sure you guys would necessarily care much about that.