First and foremost, this isn’t a step by step guide to Automotive SEO. SEO is a lot more complicated than the tips here, and the best bet is to turn over general SEO management to a dedicated employee or agency. What this will help you do is make immediate changes to your site to help your ranking. If thoughts of SEO are keeping you up at night, these tips might help you take action and hopefully sleep a bit more soundly. Godspeed!
You don’t need to do your own SEO or anything, in fact, we probably wouldn’t recommend it – it’s a complex task and you’ve got more than enough to do as it is. But you should know it so you can make informed decisions and be able to evaluate the work done by your automotive SEO partner. Understanding SEO is the best way to make sure underhanded tactics aren’t being used to try and artificially boost your page, as these can lose you thousands in lost sales due to bad ranking. Knowledge is power!
To get you started, here are a few tweaks you can make to your site to help increase your ranking. We hope you already have at least one or two of these integrated into your website, but for best practice, it’s good to have them all.
A key to car dealer SEO is keeping your focus local. You’re not selling to the whole world, after all. If your dealership is in Seattle, you don’t need to be the highest ranking dealership for people searching for new cars in Wichita.
People who are googling “new Honda,” might be in the market, but they might also be googling from many different places – and the vast majority of those people aren’t going to be anywhere near your dealership. Keep keywords local. Make your keywords “new Hondas in Los Angeles” or “LA new Hondas” and make sure your page ranks with these.
One of the best ways to rise in the rankings is to have a network of links, and if you really want to ace automotive SEO, you want editorial links. Very briefly, these are links to your site from other independent pages – like blogs. The best way to get editorial links is to have a site that provides useful information, so take some time to produce content. A blog section of your site, or a separate blog with good content can generate editorial links as other sites link to yours. Useful content is never a bad thing. You can write about:
For example, say your hometown has a Holiday Parade every December. A great piece of content for that would be a post about the best Holiday Parade Parking (nearest parking, free parking, handicapped parking, when to get there to actually get a spot, and maybe even something about what to bring). Content like this is useful. People searching for information about the parade are likely to find it, and sites about the parade are likely to link to it (especially if you let the site-coordinator know you’ve created something so useful).
That’s the general gist of all content. Be useful. If you’re going to spend time writing a post, make it a good one. People enjoy useful information, and other sites will be much more likely to link to yours if you provide something of value.
Ever bought something from Amazon? Then you know reviews matter. Personally, I read just about every review (including the most useful positive and negative reviews) before we buy a product.
The same applies to your dealership. Reviews are how new customers who haven’t been to your business evaluate it and decide whether or not to go. Managing your online reputation can help boost SEO and drive traffic to your site.
Keep on top of your online rep by:
True local SEO doesn’t just mean that you show up on the search engine results, you also need to pop up when someone searches for a dealership in their Maps application. It’s one of the keys to mobile success and to automotive SEO. Check by typing “car dealerships [Your City]” into your Google Maps or Apple Maps app. Does your dealership show up? It should. If it doesn’t, it means you probably have some automotive SEO work to do, specifically with making sure your address is clear, and linking yourself to your local community. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business, jump on that. Be aware that while showing up on the Maps app and being on the first page of results for a query are linked, they’re not parallel. It’s possible to have one but not the other.
We love us some analytics here at Jazel, so we’ll try not to get too excited about this one. Our love of data aside, analytics can really help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your site that might be dragging down (or majorly boosting) your SEO rankings. Use analytics to keep tabs on the performance of your marketing efforts. What content is the most popular? What landing pages are getting the most clicks and attention? Do a weekly analytics check to make sure you know what is performing well on your website, and what needs changing.
If your website isn’t already mobile-optimized, that’s a problem. It could be one of the biggest reasons your website is lagging in the rankings. Lack of mobile optimization means that your website is missing out on masses of mobile traffic, as most people won’t stick around on your site if they have to zoom in to read your CTA buttons. If your website is missing that traffic, and people continually bounce from your mobile site, search engines will know it’s not a popular site. Traffic is a wonderful thing – don’t let it slip through your fingers because you don’t have a mobile site. Seriously, if you take anything from this article, make sure your website is just as attractive and effective as your desktop site.
Usability is essential. We’ve made this point, and we’re going to make it again (because we are unabashedly obsessed with usability). SEO is built on good user experience. It’s the job of search engines to present the best possible site for any query, and they don’t want to offer up something less than awesome. Having a website with an exceptional user experience is probably one of the best things you can do for your business, but in terms of automotive SEO, it’s also a must.
Even if you’ve made these changes to your site, your page might not jump to the top of the results overnight. Like we went over, SEO is based on a ton of factors, and some of these take time to start boosting rankings. For example, don’t expect to get all the editorial links you need after only a couple pieces of content. Automotive SEO is a relationship, you build it over time, not overnight. Well, you can try to build it overnight, but we won’t guarantee the results.
SEO is always changing. For example, meta tags used to be an important ranking factor till they got spammed into oblivion and were dropped. This happens all the time in the world of automotive SEO. Algorithms are in a constant state of being changed, tweaked, and updated. What had you as the top search result in March may be moving you steadily down the page come August. Search Engines do this to make sure that the user (the searcher) is always getting the best experience. They don’t want black hat SEO tactics pushing bad pages up the list and ruining their reputation as the best resource for queries. That’s how meta tags lost their weight – too much abuse, and the search engines dumped them. All this means that you have to make sure whoever you have in charge of your SEO – a specialist, an agency, or even just yourself – have to be monitoring your ranking and making the necessary adjustments on a very regular basis.