Now more than ever, car dealers need to be on top of their Internet game. People are shopping for cars online and looking to figure out who’s going to be the best. With convenience-focused solutions like new vehicle delivery and contactless pickup, you might be trying to figure out how to keep up with the trends, but you don’t have to start coming up with gimmicks.
There’s one very simple, very effective solution for any dealership that wants to stay ahead of the competition, both now and in the future: SEO. Below, we’ll discuss what this process is, what it entails, how it can help your dealership, and more. We’ll even offer tips and insight on how to improve your optimization efforts, which keywords are most effective, and why local SEO is going to be your saving grace.
There is so much that you can gain from car dealer SEO solutions if you use them correctly. No matter what trends come and go, optimizing your dealership for search engines is always going to be a critical element. Read on to learn everything that you need to know.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Although some may already be vaguely familiar, we’re going to approach it as if you haven’t heard the term before. Essentially, this is a simple process that involves optimizing your website and off-page content for the search engine indexers. This can include keywords, but it’s more than that. SEO is not a tool or a trick, but an entire process and strategy that needs to be implemented for any business that wants to succeed online today.
For car dealers, SEO is critical because it can help attract local customers and potential buyers from nearby. There is no sense in marketing to customers that are thousands of miles from the dealership, after all, so local is absolutely the way to go. When you implement an effective SEO strategy, you will see increased rankings in the search engine results and several benefits as a result.
SEO isn’t just about using the right keywords, as we mentioned. You have to figure out how to optimize all of your content for the customer and the search engines, including local directory listings, your social media pages, and anywhere else that you have an online presence. Use the right keywords, offer value-added content, and make sure that your NAP information (name, address, phone number) are all accurate and consistent across every single listing. If there is so much as a difference between the use of “St.” and “Street”, the search engines could take points for your credibility.
Most importantly, SEO specifically refers to marketing through non-paid (organic) methods, specifically excluding direct traffic and paid placements. Anyone can pay for rankings. It takes a true marketing strategy to rank organically.
How helpful can SEO be for car dealerships?
Digital marketing is different for car dealers than it is for traditional sales. Essentially, it boils down to one element: the interaction with the customer. Marketing allows you to reach people via various mediums and in the past, you’d want to bring them into the dealership to have the conversation. Today, however, the customer wants the conversation before they even get in the door.
That’s where SEO comes into play. Internet marketing through optimization allows you to reach people based on what they are searching for. If people want a Buick dealer in Indianapolis, and you happen to be one, for example, the simple use of that phrase could make all the difference in getting ranked. There are probably dozens of car dealerships in your region and if you want to stand out, you have to optimize.
When you employ effective car dealer SEO strategies, you’ll find that it helps with things like:
- Generating more targeted leads. Leads are great, but high-quality leads are better. When you take the time to develop and implement a solid SEO plan, you will be able to generate leads that are far more likely to convert because they’re actually interested in your dealership.
- Ranking you ahead of the competition. Obviously, if you do it right, optimization will place you at the top of the search results and allow you to outshine the competition. When you’re ranked higher, people will find you first.
- Increasing website traffic. That higher ranking and first discovery mean that you will generate more website traffic than you did prior to implementing your optimization strategy. Even if you are the best dealer in town, you have to make sure people know that and know where to find you, and with SEO you can do exactly that.
- Increasing brand awareness and authority. When you are ranked higher and your site is optimized for the customer and the search engine alike, you are going to be considered a reputable source of information in addition to being a dealership that people will consider shopping at.
Is car dealer SEO still important?
Some people mistakenly have gotten the impression that car dealer SEO is no longer a valuable marketing tool. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not just important, either. Search optimization is essential to the success of your dealership. Although there are dozens of different marketing tools and options out there, nothing will get you the results that you want like a solid SEO strategy.
Your website is a key part of the customer’s purchase decision. Even if you have the exact car that they want, if your website isn’t optimized and is difficult to navigate, they may go somewhere else instead. You aren’t just showcasing your inventory and offering contact information. Your website is where you will persuade people that you are the right dealership for their car buying needs, no matter what they have in mind.
Of course, now it comes back to the big question: how do you get them to your website in the first place? That’s exactly what SEO is for. Using modern tactics and advanced optimization strategies will allow you to reach a wider audience and more specific customers alike. It will ensure that you are ranked in the best position in every category and search possible, and it will increase your brand authority as a result.
How to optimize car dealership SEO
Although every dealership will have to come up with its own unique plan for optimizing their online presence, there are some standard steps and practices that everyone can put in place. For starters, you need to go through and check every single listing of your business online. From your website to an auto dealer directory and even in Google and Yelp! Reviews, you need to make sure that your information is consistent and accurate.
Known as NAP, or name, address, phone number, this aspect of optimization is one that is critical. The contact information that you provide must be the exact same on every single listing. Otherwise, Google might consider it a question of your professionalism or legitimate business practices and decrease your ranking as a result.
To optimize car dealership SEO with keywords, you will want to research the best keywords searched by those looking for a new automotive dealer. Think like the consumer and perform keyword research so that you can come up with a good balance of words that you can use to improve search rankings and get people’s attention.
The best tip for optimizing your car dealership SEO is to focus on quality first. Quantity used to be the name of the game but the search engines quickly caught onto how this can be an unfair practice and changed the way that sites were ranked. Now, those dealerships that have quality information and that can provide consumers with the products and insights that they need are the ones that are getting the best rankings.
One big thing to remember is that exact-match keywords aren’t what they used to be. Ultimately, search engines are now looking at user intent, rather than just the keywords that are used, to determine how to provide search results. Consider using keywords that focus more on user intent than actual keyword matches.
The Best SEO keywords for car dealers
Speaking of the right words, in order to give you a head start on your research, we’ve compiled a list of the most effective car dealership SEO keywords. Some of them have higher search rates than others, but they will all be effective when you add them to your strategy and optimize your content by including them. Currently, the following keywords are most popular in this market:
- Car dealer
- New car dealer
- Used car dealer
- Used cars
- New cars
- Buy a car
- Vehicle dealer
- Auto dealer
- Truck dealer
- Used cars near me
- New cars near me
- [Manufacturer] dealership
Of course, many people will also search directly for a specific vehicle, if they have one in mind, so you’ll want to make sure that all of your title tags and product pages are optimized with the model name in a way that users would search for it.
Another tip, which we’ll get into a little more in the next section, is that you can add a location to the beginning or end of almost any of these keywords and get a whole new phrase that you can use to optimize for SEO. Perform your own keyword research, and keep these keywords in mind to ensure that you capitalize on the best ones for your SEO campaigns.
How to go local with your car dealer SEO
In local SEO, the biggest step is to add your location to some of your top-performing keywords. You can also perform local keyword research, focusing exclusively on popular searches that include locations. Local SEO can be optimized with the location of your dealership, including:
- City and/or state
- ZIP code
Google has the one big secret that everyone is missing when it comes to local business SEO– Google My Business. This is a directory listing that is connected to your optimization efforts and ranking results in the eyes of the search engines. You need to get into this listing and make sure that you complete it thoroughly, optimizing as many elements as you can. Not only will this improve your local SEO, but it will increase the odds of your dealership ranking in the top three featured locations.
Another helpful tip, especially for car dealers, is to take a look at your mobile experience and your mobile optimization. Today’s consumers are constantly on the go and they are always looking for information while they’re out. If they can’t access your dealership website or it’s not friendly on a mobile device, they’ll find one that is. It’s a big task for some, but the basic elements are easy to put in place.
Mobile optimization means having a quick-loading site, mobile-friendly images and navigation, and large buttons and menu links to make it easy to access from any device. It means making sure that your website is the best mobile site out there and that it translates to desktop seamlessly for optimal streamlining.
Reviews are gold in local SEO. It’s hard to get them, and especially hard to get good ones. However, they can be the difference in the success of some local campaigns when used effectively. You should strive to get reviews on your own website, but also on sites like Google or Yelp!, as well as industry forums and more. One of the best ways to improve the odds of getting these reviews is to engage with people on social media and create that personal connection that makes them want to give you a rave review.
These are just a few of the biggest things that impact the success of your local SEO. Make sure that you take the time to strategize and implement a solid plan for local optimization so that your dealership can continue to stay ahead of the competition.
Car search websites to model yourself after
If you’re ready to get on board with optimization but you aren’t sure where to start, inspiration is plentiful. You can easily perform a quick Internet search and find several dealerships that are doing SEO right in so many ways. Here are a few car search websites and dealerships that have made quite an impression with their overall design, and most notably, their SEO efforts.
This dealership site balances the line between accessibility and sophistication, providing action-oriented videos and images along with easy access to a search bar for trade values. They also make the transition from new to used smooth and are focused on a lot of visuals without a lot of text cluttering up the page. This dealership has optimized effectively for local markets and has an array of testimonials that help improve their credibility.
The classic design of this website sets it apart, but the dealership uses it well. The less-is-more approach definitely works for Land Rover Tampa, which has new vehicles right on the home page, pricing that is clear and accurate, and easy-access call-to-action buttons to make the site ideal for use on mobile. There is also a header bar for all of the available services and the rest of the site focuses on giving people information and helping them find reasons to choose the brand.
Anderson Lincoln has high-resolution imagery of its most popular items right on the main screen. It also has calls to action for service, selling, and finding vehicles, as well as a more detailed search option and a presentation that explains more about who they are and what they offer. It’s about first impressions and ease of use, and they succeed with both.
This website has a sleek design with very basic elements, which makes sense from the Volvo brand. It’s all about simplicity– buyers will immediately see a “view trending model” and “browse inventory” selection on the main screen, with plenty of clickable images and large buttons that translate well to mobile. It’s sophisticated without being stuffy and feature-rich without being complicated.
Miscellaneous tips to improve your SEO
- Get creative with your keywords. Although some of the lesser-searched ones might not seem as attractive, using a combination of those might fare better than focusing on keywords that are more common. After all, you’ll be able to catch all the customers that are overlooked by others.
- Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. You should typically aim for a keyword density of about 1-2%, which means using a keyword about once every 100 words. If you’re using local keywords, less is even more. One or two mentions on a full-page article will be more than enough. Anything else and Google might not give you the best ranking.
- Optimize everything. You aren’t just looking to improve your page titles, landing pages, and onsite content. You want to optimize every single aspect of your online presence. This includes your directory listings, social media pages, and even any online forums or dealer groups that you belong to. If your dealership’s name is out there, optimize it.
- Make this a priority task and outsource it if you want. Professional SEO management services can handle all of your strategies and implementation efforts. They can even monitor and track the results of your campaigns for you and make changes as needed. After all, you can’t know if your campaigns are working if you aren’t tracking the results.
- Get rid of broken links, redirect chains, and duplicate content. All of these are clutter and they can actually cause you to lose points with search engines when it comes to SEO. It’s as important to keep things clean as it is to optimize for keywords because it shows that you care about your website and your online presence.
- Choose a reliable SEO agency that can help you get the best car dealer SEO campaigns and strategies in place, no matter what your intentions might be. You’ll be able to find affordable solutions and it will be well worth the investment for you to let the professionals handle your SEO while you focus on the rest of your dealership– selling cars.
Search engine optimization is not dead yet. In fact, it’s further from that than ever. While there are plenty of new marketing tactics that come and go, this is one that continues to be the standard for how things are done. It’s quite simple really– the search engines require optimization for websites to be considered credible and worthy of a ranking. Therefore, if you don’t implement SEO, you won’t be ranked. In some cases, you might even be ranked negatively for not having appropriate SEO in place.
Make sure that you attract the right visitors at the right time in the buying cycle with proper car dealer SEO strategies. Use the tips and insight that you’ve gained in this article to help you get started on the process and come up with your own plans to improve your optimization. Remember that you have to use SEO both on your website and on all off-page content because you want to make as many connections as possible.
Most importantly, if you’re struggling to get through the process or just don’t want to handle it alone, feel free to ask for help. Our professional car dealer SEO solutions are designed to help you take your dealership to the next level in optimization and stand out from the competition. We can discuss your needs and help you come up with the perfect strategy to maximize your SEO for now and the future. Call us to learn more.