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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving your web presence to positively influence your website’s visibility in search engines, such as Google, intending to drive more organic traffic to your website. By being more visible online, you can increase the volume of visitors to your website and, therefore, the number of enquiries you receive without heavily investing in lead generations platforms or third-party advertisers.

Twenty years ago, the average car buyer started their auto-buying experience by heading down to the nearest lot and starting their search in person. Today, though, start researching on the internet instead of in person.

These buyers don’t just use Google to learn about their next vehicle — they also use it to figure out which dealership to trust. According to Cox Automotive, 41% of today’s car buyers purchase after visiting only a single dealership. So how did that dealership earn their trust? Simple — with their online presence.

Of course, before you can start to win over a prospect, that prospect has to be able to find you — and that’s where your SEO strategy comes into play. By making it easier for your customers to find you online, you can enjoy organic leads, a steady stream of prospects ready to buy, and a healthier bottom line.

First, though, you’ll need to learn how to climb those search engine rankings — and that’s where this guide comes in.

What is Automotive SEO, and Why Should You Care?

When you search for something online, you’ll notice that the results are laid out in descending order. So the higher up a certain website is on that list, the more clicks it will get.

So how do you get to those top spots? You use various techniques and strategies designed to convince the search engines that your website is the best link to their search query.

These strategies and techniques are collectively referred to as “SEO” or (Search Engine Optimization).

While it might not seem important, SEO can have a massive impact on your business. Here are just a few benefits that effective SEO can give you:

  • Free, Highly Targeted Leads: as long as your site is ranking for various keywords, you’ll have a fresh supply of interested leads flocking to your website — all at no ongoing cost to you.
  • Improved Awareness and Authority: if your customers see your webpage cropping up on every local auto-related search they do, they’ll automatically think of you as someone to be trusted.
  • Less Reliance on Internet Lead Providers: nowadays, many car dealers get most (if not all) of their leads from online 3rd party marketplaces. This is expensive, but if you become dependent on them, and if they raise their prices or stop providing quality leads, you’ll be in big trouble. Getting your own internet leads can save you a bundle of cash in the long run.

You don’t have to work on your SEO, but if you don’t, you’ll be giving some other dealership a free crack at that top spot.

Best Practices for Dealership SEO

Just because you understand that SEO for car dealers is important doesn’t mean that you know how to do it. While SEO is a complex topic that can’t be explained in complete detail in a single article, here are a few tips that will give you a leg up on the competition.

Invest in a High-Quality Website

Getting all the free traffic in the world won’t do much good if you’re sending those clicks to a website that looks like it’s from 1999. 

Your site should use original, high-quality images and be laid out in such a way that people can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. (Decrease your bounce rate) 

You need to include a few things on your site that are essential for dealership SEO. Your home page should have a healthy amount of original content (at least 400 words), and your contact information should be shown on every page. 

Do Proper, Targeted Keyword Research

Not all keywords are created equal. For example, some have more buying intent than others, and people in your area might be searching for terms quite different from the rest of the country.

There are various tools out there that make searching for these keywords easy. The biggest is Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, a free service that suggests keywords and lists them according to their search volume.

There are plenty of paid subscription services that will provide even more information to help you plan your keyword strategy. Of course, each of these has different strengths and weaknesses, but it’s probably a good idea to invest in at least one to understand what areas you might need to look at in more detail.

Write Compelling Content

Once you know what keywords you want to target, you need to provide the kind of content that the search engines love.

You can have a mix of evergreen and topical content, but try to make sure everything is fresh and up to date. That means regularly updating your existing content while continually adding more.

This will improve Google’s opinion of your site, but it will make your leads feel that you’re trustworthy and knowledgeable — and that’s before they ever set foot on your lot.

Optimize Everything

You want to use the keywords you’ve found as frequently as possible — but only so long as using them seems natural. 

Unfortunately, you’ll likely find it easy to run out of places to put those keywords without making your content sound forced and unrealistic. When you get to this point, it’s time to look at optimizing other features of your website.

You can add keywords to the alternate text of your photos, in the URLs of various web pages, in title tags and meta-descriptions, and many other places. This will help search engines discover and rank your content without ruining the experience for visitors.

SEO Mistakes Dealers Often Make

If you spend a lot of time looking at local dealerships that are trying their hands at automotive SEO, you’ll soon notice a variety of glaring mistakes that could potentially sabotage their efforts. This is good news for you. As long as you don’t make these mistakes, you should be able to quickly overtake these other sites and claw your way to the top of the search results.

Keyword Stuffing

Using targeted keywords is important, but it must sound natural, as mentioned above. Unfortunately, many sites try to game the system by cramming as many keywords into every paragraph.

If you’ve ever seen a site with content like… 

“For the cheapest cars in Dallas, come down to Dallas Nissan for cheap cars! Our cheap Dallas cars are the cheapest you’ll find in Dallas, Texas!” 

…then you’ve seen keyword stuffing in the wild. Not only do modern search engines hate it, but it will alienate your customers as well.

Not Tracking Results

There’s no point in performing SEO for car dealerships if you’re not going to know if your efforts are having any effect. You should regularly track your results to ensure that your site brings in the targeted traffic you need and adjust your efforts if they aren’t.

Using Duplicate or Low-Quality Content

Many dealerships regurgitate the same content repeatedly — after all, the reasons you’re having a sale this Labor Day are probably a lot like the reasons you had a sale last Labor Day.

Unfortunately, the search engines frown on this, as they see it as you trying to game the system. So you should come up with fresh content regularly — it may be a bit of a pain, but no one said reaching the top would be easy.

Not Filling Out a GMB Profile

GMB stands for “Google My Business,” and it’s a free service that Google provides. It basically provides your dealership’s contact information to anyone searching for cars in your geographical area.

Take the time to sign up for the service, and make sure that your contact information and business category are correct.

The Value of Organic Traffic vs. Relying on Internet Lead Providers

If you’re already getting good results from internet lead providers, you may be tempted to skip car dealer SEO altogether. We won’t judge you, but you’re leaving a ton of money on the table by doing so.

The most obvious advantage that dealer SEO has over a lead provider is that it’s free if you do it yourself. Once you reach the top of the results for a given keyword, you’ll likely stay there for a long time — and you’ll get plenty of free leads as a result.

Also, automotive SEO is like owning an asset, whereas using a lead provider is like renting it. As long as you’re paying someone else for a service, you’re at their mercy, and they could raise their prices or change their terms at any time, leaving you high and dry.

You should also remember that using automotive SEO doesn’t have to replace buying leads. You can still use both. After all, no dealer has ever complained about having too many eager prospects walking through their doors.

When Do Car Dealers Need Help with SEO?

Your auto dealers company will require our SEO services if you need to bring in more organic traffic by using an SEO strategy that works long-term without breaking the bank. 

So, if your previous SEO team seems to have left things hanging or if you didn’t have the best results, you might want to try out our SEO services. We not only provide comprehensive SEO services for car dealers, but we also offer continuous support to businesses through end-to-end SEO management services.

You might also want our SEO services if you don’t have the time to learn about the industry’s best practices or implement them.

Regardless of your reasons for implementing SEO, we’ll be here to offer the guidance you are looking for. 

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