Mar 5 2019
You’re probably familiar with search engine optimization (SEO). Chances are that you’ve hired an automotive marketing agency or website provider to optimize your dealership’s website at one point or another. You may even have a large enough team to develop and execute an SEO strategy in-house.
In a world where nearly everyone shops for their next vehicle online, it’s essential that your dealership is showing up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO is not free (whether you hire a 3rd party or pay for your employees’ salary), it takes time before you see results, and is an ongoing work in progress. However, website traffic resulting from SEO (organic traffic) will typically be the most valuable, from our experience, and will end up saving your dealership money in long run.
In this article we’ve shared some insightful SEO tips and best practices curated from auto industry-leading blogs and SEO experts. We hope this roundup will help jumpstart or take your dealership’s SEO to the next level.
If you are looking for SEO tactics to more effectively optimize your dealership’s website, DealerOn’s blog is always a great place to start. Greg Gifford, among other DealerOn SEO experts, offer so many great pointers on the topic. No, they didn’t pay me to write this. I’ve been reading the DealerOn blog for quite some time.
In this particular video blog (vlog), Greg discusses the importance of blogging and how it will improve your dealership’s SEO strategy. “In today’s world, SEO is about establishing your dealership’s online identity, having a solid strategy to showcase your entity and stand out from all other dealerships in your area.”
Creating unique and engaging content on your dealership’s blog is a great way to attract a wider audience and stay front of mind for both in-market vehicle shoppers and out-of-market consumers.
SEO is all about improving your website experience for the consumer. Google’s algorithm has become smarter over time, so optimizing purely for Google bots is no longer an effective SEO strategy.
Not only should your dealership’s website have a great user interface (UI) and helpful content, but it should also load quickly. According to a Kissmetrics study referenced in this Neil Patel article, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Google recognizes this and has made page loading speed one of their top-ranking factors. Here’s a helpful infographic on Google’s current ranking factors.
DealerSocket does a great job putting a dealership spin on this subject. This article explains how site speed will affect your vehicle shoppers from a user experience perspective and your search engine rankings from an SEO perspective.
By: Dealer Teamwork
A roundup within a roundup… bet you didn’t see that coming!
Dealer Teamwork had the opportunity to attend MozCon 2018, one of the biggest SEO conferences in the country, and shared their top 5 takeaways from the sessions they attended.
Though all the takeaways will be valuable to your dealership, a couple I find particularly insightful are that 1) mobile-first indexing can greatly impact how dealers market on search engines and 2) empathy continues to drive traffic.
By: Dealer Authority
How many of your vehicle inventory images or other images on your website are missing alt attributes (also known as alt text or an alt tag)? As Dealer Authority states in this blog article, “It’s a slice of the optimization pie that often gets overlooked, but none the less plays an integral role for optimizing a landing page to the fullest.”
This blog covers several reasons why you should have alt text for your images, including that it will allow your images to show up in the correct image search queries, appear in featured snippets with images, and better round out the optimization of each page as a whole.
You may be noticing a pattern from the first few articles in this roundup. Creating content to answer the questions of your audience, in the format they prefer, is the name of the game for SEO. This article by Wikimotive provides some great information on the value of creating content that meets the expectations of your audience and is of high quality. But there’s more involved to actually rank in the SERPs - authority and trustworthiness.
“Think of it in these terms: who would you go to for advice, a well-established authority or an untested loudmouth? Gaining the esteem of consumers, peers, industry publications and trusted resources adds to your valuation in the all-seeing eye of Google.” Check out this article for tips on gaining authority for your brand, among other great pointers.
By: 9 Clouds
Great content is key to a successful SEO strategy, but how many times can you write about the same vehicles? What else can you write about to keep your blog fresh?
9 Clouds has some great suggestions for how you might round out your content calendar with unique content that will set your blog apart from your competitors. Some of these suggestions include writing content based on a timely event or drilling deeper into the top features of your product(s). Each subject can be repurposed and written from different angles as well. Check out some of the examples 9 Clouds provides in their post.
New to the SEO game? This AdTaxi article does a solid job identifying some of the key areas where you should focus your SEO efforts. Although most dealerships will hire out a website provider or marketing agency to accomplish the majority of these tasks, it’s still valuable for your dealership staff to be knowledgeable in SEO best practices.
One of the most valuable points from this article, that may be most relevant to you as a dealership, is keeping your content fresh. This is the piece that is ongoing and requires attention weekly or, at a bare minimum, monthly. This point reinforces DealerOn’s article on why your dealership needs a blog. Some of your staff should be able to accomplish new content creation on a regular basis to help jump ahead of your competition.
For those of you not familiar with Moz (the host of MozCon mentioned earlier), they are a leader in SEO and have been offering some of the most popular SEO tools for over a decade now. Their product Moz Local is designed for businesses, such as dealers, which is why they have written about how to optimize car dealership websites.
This is a very comprehensive article that covers pretty much everything you would need to know about the SEO needed for your dealership’s website. Some of the core topics include Google My Business, online directories, online reviews, longtail keyword strategy, and so much more. The article is well worth a bookmark for referencing time and time again.
We live in a world where everyone wants instant gratification. Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work like that. Organic traffic is the most valuable website traffic and will give the most bang for your buck in the long run. However, it takes time before your website starts ranking above your competitors and it’s always a work in progress. Google wants to see fresh content; therefore, someone (inhouse or an agency) will have to keep up with your website and assure that you continue to rank once you get there.
So how long does it take to start seeing results from your SEO efforts? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as each website is unique and there are a number of ranking factors that determine the success of your SEO.
Though not specific to dealerships, this Forbes article, written by Josh Steimle, does a great job covering the topic and certainly applies to your business.
SEO is certainly an investment up front that will show little return to start, but is well worth the time and effort. If you are desperate to start getting some leads and sales right away, it’d be a good idea to allocate extra budget (if you can afford it) towards paid advertising while you’re waiting for your SEO to gain traction.
SEO is hard. It requires a lot of time and energy but should be a high priority for your dealership. Whether your dealership hires an agency or leverages an in-house marketing team to execute an SEO strategy, make sure that you consider some, if not all, of the tips referenced in these articles. Most importantly, keep the content on your website fresh and create unique content on a regular basis to help position your dealership as an authority and humanify your business.