Half of internet searches are local in nature.
Most car sales are made to locals.
These two facts mean that local SEO is one of the most important tools dealerships have in their online arsenal. Being able to rank highly in local searches means being visible to your most likely-to-buy audience – an invaluable leg up on the local competition. To help you make sure that you’ve aced local SEO, we’ve summarized the best practices to help your dealership rank in local searches.
Want to know tips on more than just local SEO? Check out the full list of 11 Automotive SEO Tips.
If you were selling cars to the whole world, well, you wouldn’t be reading this article in the first place, but you also wouldn’t even need to use local keywords, you’d be concerned with ranking #1 in Google searches for “car sales.” That’s not the case for most dealerships, and ranking #1 in “car sales” wouldn’t get you any more sales than if you were ranking #1 for “cheese consumption per capita” (incidentally, France has the highest).
If your dealership is in Boulder, you want to be the highest ranking car dealership in searches for “Boulder car dealers” or “new Ford Boulder.” Pretty simple.
To do this, the keywords that you optimize your page to should contain your town or city. Picking the right keywords and including them on your page will help your dealership rank higher for your local area. This isn’t the be-all-end-all local strategy, but it’s one that has often been neglected and should be checked on.
Google is the undisputed ruler of finding local businesses. Yelp is all well and good for reviews, but Google has combined maps, reviews, and business listing into a powerhouse of the local SEO game.
Specifically, maps are one of the single best tools to make sure your rank on. In August of 2015, Google knocked down their business listing in maps from seven results to just three. This resulted in a 50% decrease for some dealerships that didn’t make it into the top three. Showing up in the Google maps results and being on the front page are associated, but they’re not directly connected, so below are some ways you can specifically help yourself rank in maps.
Whip out your phone and check for yourself to see if your dealership already shows up. If you do, you get to skip to the next tip without bothering with any of this. That’s great! If not, no worries, the following will help.
Claim your “Google My Business”
Google has a My Business page for everything marked as a business. Claim yours, and add all the information you can. Really building out this page is a good way to make your business show up on Maps, and seem more trustworthy and professional to the people who see it there.
Set up schema mark-up
Schema mark up is a piece of code on your website that helps search engines understand the information on your site. It has a wide variety of uses, but is under-utilized to help SEO. In this case, schema mark-up is best used to help search engines read your dealership’s phone number or address on your site and understand what it is. Maps frequently uses this code to fill in information on the info page that users see when checking out a business.
List your business and link to your site on local business directories
It’s important to reach out and link your site to others. It might not be that tons and tons of people visit these business directories, but it does mean that search engines will see your site links on other pages – specifically local pages with location information, and this might help you rank better.
Reviews are really important, and they’re one of the most trusted sources of information after the advice of friends and relatives. Reviews, although often taken with a grain of salt, tell us what unbiased sources think about a business or product. That’s really valuable to shoppers of all kinds, and particularly car shoppers.
Now this isn’t to say that having reviews necessarily means your local SEO will improve, but stick with me here.
Keeping tabs on your reviews (and requesting new ones), is a good way to build your online reputation. Ask your client base to give reviews. Ask new car purchasers who had a good experience to write a review. And, importantly, keep an eye on your reviews and respond to them. These responses don’t need to be novels. Happy customer? Thank them for their business and leave contact info if they need anything. Angry review? Professionally apologize and reassure that you will do everything to resolve their problem and leave contact info.
This will help your dealership gain more social proof on Maps. A dealership with 4.5 stars and 46 reviews is likely to get more attention from users than one with no ratings to speak of. Search engines take note of that increased attention from users, and that will help your rankings. Popularity matters.
Now these are some of the best things you can do to help your local SEO, but SEO is pretty complex and dynamic. What’s true of SEO today might not be true in a month, so it’s important to continue to keep a watchful eye on how your dealership is ranking – particularly if you notice a large drop in website performance. But that being said, good luck and godspeed on your local SEO journey.