As a car dealer, you know your business has something unique to offer. However, from a buyer’s perspective, one dealership is pretty much like any other, and prospective customers don’t care as much about where they go as they do about getting a good deal and great service. Car dealer SEO makes your business stand out and draws customers to your location when they’re in the market for a vehicle.
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), over 16,800 franchised dealerships operate in the U.S., and thousands more independent operations sell new and used vehicles. No matter where your business is located, you face a lot of competition from other dealers in your area and the surrounding cities. Changes in the way customers shop for cars make beating out your competitors more complicated than it was in the past. You need more than a clever ad campaign or the best prices in town to bring in customers.
Sixty-two percent of prospective buyers say they prefer to shop around for cars online instead of talking to a salesperson. Before deciding to buy from your particular dealership, these customers will spend a considerable amount of time searching for the right make and model, comparing prices and financing options and reading reviews from previous customers. A smart, targeted SEO strategy helps your business rank higher in search results and has the power to influence a potential customer’s final buying decision.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do SEO, and the wrong way can get your site penalized and pushed so far down the search rankings it never gets seen. Get off on the right foot by familiarizing yourself with the basics of car dealer SEO and implementing smart strategies from the start.
Keywords were once one of the most important elements of SEO, but the algorithms search engines now use to rank pages consider more than just specific words and phrases in page content. Google in particular is changing the game with its “RankBrain” machine learning algorithm. RankBrain looks beyond the strings of words used in a search and tries to determine the intent of the search and the relevance of the results by analyzing what users have clicked on in the past and how much time they spend on specific sites.
However, keywords are still important to show your dealership site is relevant to specific searches and confirm to potential customers you have what they’re looking for. The key to successful SEO for car dealerships is to include keywords naturally on site pages and to make sure each page has a keyword-rich title and meta description. You also have a unique opportunity to leverage the ALT tags of images on your site by including long-tail keywords, such as the make, model and year of vehicles. Long-tail keywords are particularly important in car dealership SEO because potential customers search for specific types of vehicles instead of blanket terms like “car dealership” or “where to buy a car.”
Whether customers include a city name in their searches, look for dealerships “near me” or shop for cars using their mobile devices, dealership sites optimized for local search will come out on top. The first thing you need to do to ensure your dealership appears in search results is to add the name of your business, the address and the phone number (NAP) to every page of your site. From there, seek out local directories in which to list your dealership. Each listing is called a citation, and the more of these you have, the more legitimate your business appears to search engines. Start by claiming and optimizing your profile on Google My Business before adding your site to industry-specific listings like DealRater, Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com and Edmunds.com.
Once you’re on these directories, let customers know they can leave reviews. Set up a “Review Us” page on your site to show where your dealership is listed, and start sending follow-up emails asking new vehicle owners about their experiences at your location. Reviews have a powerful influence on buying choices. Honest feedback creates a positive reputation for your dealership and boosts visibility in local search results.
Another way to increase your presence in local search results is to get local publications, blogs and other well-known sites to link to your dealership’s website. A large network of local links makes your site more relevant in the eyes of search engines, so make sure any organization to which you donate time or money lists you as a supporter on its site. If you sponsor or host local events, get a link to your site into announcements and news stories relating to the event. Take the time to write press releases whenever your business hits a noteworthy milestone, and submit these to newspapers and bloggers in your area for additional coverage.
To expand your network, find influencers and well-known content creators writing about topics in which your customers are interested. Connect with them on social media, share their content and start building relationships. When you have high-quality content of your own to share, engagement from these influencers increases your authority and can push your site higher in search results.
High-quality content providing useful information ranks highest in search results and enjoys greater visibility through social shares and engagement. Video content is especially popular, and you can use this surging trend to your advantage. With 90 percent of consumers saying product videos have a direct influence on their buying decisions, creating video content is a worthwhile investment to establish your dealership as an influential authority. Consider showcasing the perks of new vehicle models, answering common car buying questions and demonstrating basic maintenance techniques to build a catalog of helpful videos customers can refer to while shopping for a car and after they’ve made a purchase.
Even with the popularity of video, traditional blogging is still a smart tool for SEO. Posts can be optimized for one or two keywords and cover similar topics to those in your videos. Embedding videos in your blog posts and using the text to add more detail to the information increases visibility and engagement. Your blog is also a good platform for sharing special announcements and letting people know about local events in which your dealership is participating. Focus on making all the content you create pertinent and useful to increase the time people spend on your site and influence algorithms like RankBrain to your advantage.
It’s tough to keep up with the changes search engines are constantly making to the way they rank pages, determine relevancy and evaluate content quality. Chances are the SEO tactics you put in place when first designing your website are outdated and need a tune-up to start attracting new customers to your car dealership. Let SEO Direct take a look at your approach with a comprehensive SEO audit designed to reveal any shortcomings or weaknesses in your optimization tactics and provide guidance on how to move forward with an updated approach.
Since local search is so important to car dealerships, SEO Direct also provides local SEO services to ensure you’re using all the right strategies to push your site higher in local and mobile search results. Get help identifying where your local strategy falls short and purging out low-quality backlinks to ensure all the outside references to your site are relevant and authoritative. With the detailed information SEO Direct provides, you can clean up your strategy and start converting prospective buyers into satisfied car owners.