The rules and mechanisms behind what it takes to rank on search are constantly changing and are not officially disclosed publicly by companies like Google. That being said, there are tried and true best practices that are known by marketers to be successful.
As a car dealer, it’s important to make sure your dealership website is optimized for search engines, such as Google and Bing, in order to draw in new customers. The better your dealership website is optimized for search, the higher your business will rank in search queries that include keywords and phrases which appear on your site. This process is called ‘search engine optimization’ or ‘SEO’.
In this article you’ll learn three fundamental SEO strategies to help boost your dealership’s search rankings to increase your website traffic and lead generation.
The rules and mechanisms behind what it takes to rank on search are constantly changing and are not officially disclosed publicly by companies like Google. That being said, there are tried and true best practices that are known by marketers to be successful. These strategies will keep your dealership competitive in search rankings.
Pro Tip: SEO refers to organic search. Organic search are the UNPAID results that show up when you enter a query into a search engine. Paid ads on search engines fall under ‘Search Engine Marketing’ (or ‘SEM’) and are always indicated with “ad” or “advertisement”. See the example below where paid results are circled in red. We will cover SEM in a different article.
How Do Car Dealers Manage SEO with Limited Resources?
As an automotive dealership owner, manager, or marketing leader it can often feel overwhelming to manage various components of your marketing channels, including your website and SEO program.
Pro Tip: There is nothing wrong with hiring an experienced developer, agency or consultant to help take on some of the workload. Some of these tips below can get very technical and some require an experienced developer to execute correctly. Don’t worry. If you get stuck, The Space Auto Team can help manage your SEO. Learn more.
We’ll cover the following three SEO strategies. These are important for anyone who touches marketing at your dealership to understand the basics.
- Best Technical SEO Practices for Car Dealerships (and All Websites)
- Creating “Human-First” Content
- Local Listings Management
1) Best Technical SEO Practices for Car Dealerships (and All Websites)
Optimizing your automotive dealership website technical SEO is crucial for improving its ranking on search engines.
What is ‘technical SEO’? According to Yoast, a major player in search engine marketing software: “Technical SEO is all about improving the technical aspects of a website in order to increase the ranking of its pages in the search engines. Making a website faster, easier to crawl, and more understandable for search engines are the pillars of technical optimization.”
Below are some fundamental technical SEO areas your team should focus on, including a few content examples.
Get Started with Keyword Research
The first thing you need to do is understand what your customers are searching for and what kinds of search results pages (SERPs) you want your website to be listed on. There are many, many amazing tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to help you find out what keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for. Other recommended software for keyword research includes SEMRush, Yoast, Moz and Ahrefs. And there are many more.
You will incorporate these keywords into your content and across your website to make it more discoverable by search engines.
For example: If you find that a lot of young professionals in your area are searching for “best compact cars for city driving,” you might create an article with that title and include relevant keywords throughout the text.
Another example: You might find your make and model keywords are high in search volume in your area such as, “New Mazda CX 5 in Springfield, MA.”
Pro Tip: There are also A LOT of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) around keywords. Take it slow and one step at a time.
Don’t Ignore Your Dealership Website’s Metadata
Metadata is all the information about a webpage that your user can’t see, but is used by search engines to understand the content of the page.
It is important that whoever builds your dealer’s website includes relevant metadata, such as a title tag and meta description, for each page.
Don’t Forget Your Title Tags
The title tag is the text that appears in the tab of your web browser and is also used by search engines as the title of a search result. Use descriptive and relevant title tags that accurately reflect the content of each page on your website.
For example: If you have a page about the financing options available at your dealership, you might use a title tag like “Flexible Financing Options for Your Next Car Purchase at XYZ Dealership.”
Understand Content Headers
Headers, also known as H1, H2, and H3 tags, help to structure the content on your website and make it easier for search engines to understand the hierarchy of your content. Use headers to break up your content into sections and use relevant keywords in your header tags.
For example: You might use an H1 tag for the main headline on your page, such as “Why Choose XYZ Dealership for Your Next Car Purchase,” and then use H2 tags for subheadings within the article, such as “Wide Selection of New and Used Cars,” “Expert Sales Team,” and “Convenient Financing Options.”
Monitor Your Website Speed Optimization
A slow-loading website can be frustrating for potential car buyers and can also hurt your search engine ranking. Make sure to optimize the loading speed of your website by compressing images. A tool like Kraken.io is a great resource to compress your images
You should also try to minimize the use of unnecessary plug-ins.
Additionally you should consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN), such as Cloudflare, to serve your website’s static assets from a location closer to your users. A CDN is a geographically distributed group of servers that work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content.
Manage Your Vehicle Schema
Schema is a type of structured data that helps search engines understand the content of your website and provide more relevant search results. Use schema markup to provide additional context about your website and its content. For example, you might use schema markup to indicate the type of car dealership you are (e.g. new car dealership, used car dealership, etc.), the VIN-specific models of cars you have in stock, and your location.
2) Create Human-First Content that Connects with Target Car Shoppers
In addition to technical SEO practices, it’s important to focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that your target audience of car shoppers will want to actually read. Just getting people to your page isn’t enough. Google will measure time on your webpage, your website and how many pages they click on to understand the relevance of your website as it relates to search. This means thinking about what your customers are searching for and creating content speaks to their needs and interests.
At Space Auto we call this “human-first” content, meaning you’re not trying to game the search engine system with keyword stuffing or other tricks.
Here are some tips for creating human-first content:
Understand Your Target Audience of Car Buyers
Think about your best group or groups of customers. Try and pick a target audience that makes up the majority of your customers.
- Who are the people you are trying to reach with your content?
- Are they older or younger car buyers?
- Do they have lower credit scores or need financing help?
- Do you cater to luxury vehicles, sports cars or pick-ups?
Understanding your target audience will help you create content, such as articles, videos or surveys, that they will want to engage with.
For example: If you are targeting young professionals in your area, you might create an article that speaks to their needs and interests, such as benefits of car ownership for city dwellers or reviews of compact cars that are fuel-efficient and budget-friendly.
Create Valuable, Informative Content
Focus on creating content that provides value to your readers. This could be educational articles, buyer’s guides, or reviews of different car models.
For example: You might create an article that breaks down the different types of car financing options available and explains the pros and cons of each, or a buyer’s guide that compares different car models and features to help readers make an informed decision.
Use Engaging Headlines
A headline is often the first thing a reader sees, so make sure it’s catchy and interesting enough to entice them to read on. For example, instead of using a headline like “Financing Options at XYZ Dealership,” you might try something more attention-grabbing like “How to Get the Best Deal on Your Next Car Loan: Expert Tips from XYZ Dealership.”
3) Stay on Top of Your Dealer’s Local Listings Management
Managing your local listings, such as your Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook profiles, is important for attracting local customers to your dealership. Make sure to keep your listings up to date with accurate information, such as your business name, address, and phone number, and consider adding photos and reviews to your profiles to make them more attractive to potential customers. (There are over 80 listings profiles that Space Auto manages as part of our SEO services.)
Keep Your Listings Accurate and Up to Date
It’s important to make sure your local listings have accurate information, as this helps search engines understand where you are located and makes it easier for potential customers to find you. Make sure to double-check the information on your Google My Business and Facebook profiles and update any outdated or incorrect information.
To learn more read our post: 5 Local Listings Strategies to Increase Your Dealership’s Website Traffic and Marketing
Add Photos, Reviews, and Vehicle Content: Make Your Profiles More Attractive to Potential Customers
In addition to accurate information, consider adding photos and reviews to your profiles to make them more attractive to potential customers.
Photos give potential customers a sense of what your dealership looks like and what kind of cars you have available, while reviews can help to build trust and credibility.
Read our article: 10 Tips for Taking Great Marketing Photos of Cars at Your Dealership
Encourage happy car buying customers to leave reviews on your profiles after their purchase. Consider responding online to any negative reviews to show that you are actively engaged with your customers and willing to address any concerns they may have.
Sell More Cars with SEO
Focusing on all three of these SEO strategies (Best Technical SEO Practices, Human-First Content, and Local Listings Management) can lead to more organic website traffic and ultimately, more car sales for your car dealership.
Optimizing your dealership website technical SEO helps search engines understand the content of your website and rank it higher in search results, making it more visible to new and past car buying customers. Creating human-first content for your target audience that is interesting and educates them can help to attract and engage visitors to your website. And, managing your local listings on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook helps to increase the visibility of your dealership to local customers and makes it easier for them to find and contact you.
By focusing on all three of these strategies, you can improve your search engine ranking, attract more qualified traffic to your website, and ultimately, drive more car sales for your dealership.
Supercharge Your Dealership’s SEO with Space Auto
Space Auto SEO focuses on helpful improvements to your home page, transactional landing pages, and vehicles pages to deliver in-market customers that are ready to buy cars. Learn more.
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