Drive Sales Beyond the Summer With a Solid SEO Strategy
The busy summer sales season is in full swing, and automotive sales are expected to continue their strong momentum following a solid first half of the year. To keep this sales momentum going through the dog days of summer, many dealers are looking to invest in major seasonal promotions. However, dealers may want to look beyond the short-term wins gained through promotions to focus on implementing a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to generate sales well beyond the summer season.
There’s no better way to understand how you look to your customers online and be able to get in front of them in the digital world than through a robust SEO strategy. A September 2014 J.D. Power study of automotive shoppers found that consumers in the market for a new car who spend the most time on the Internet shopping for a vehicle also visit the most dealerships to shop prior to their purchase. In order to get those clicks to translate to in-store sales, SEO strategy is massively critical to ensure you’re being recognized online.
When it comes to SEO strategies for automotive dealers, search goals should be level-set with the outlook of the local market, your marketing plans intact, your dealership’s business objectives to be met and even exceeded, and with benchmarks in place. Before attempting to improve your SEO, it’s crucial to be honest with your expectations.
To accelerate your SEO success, here are four key qualities successful dealers should have when it comes to understanding and optimizing successful search strategy.
1. SEO is a form of advertising; budget for it accordingly
SEO should be built into your dealership’s overall marketing plan. The combination of SEO, paid search, and display advertising can be a powerful tool for your dealership. Using these services together can create a greater impact for your dealership than if they were used individually over the course of the year.
2. Update websites frequently with high-quality content
Keep your website content fresh. The most successful dealers regularly add new content such as blog posts, customer pages, and special offers. A stagnant site with outdated information can lead to a poor user experience and chase customers away.
For example, if your dealership is active in the local community, share those community contributions on your website, and also through your social media channels. This can differentiate you from your local competition, leading to a more positive view of your brand by potential customers, and help you score a higher ranking on Google.
3. Focus on key performance indicators that matter
In relation to measuring SEO performance, you don’t want to focus on any one metric. Many SEO metrics can change and shift on a daily basis. No doubt these are valuable, but you should shift your focus to overall organic website metrics, such as ones based on year-over-year and month-over-month visits, leads, and vehicle details page views. A comprehensive and well-thought-out SEO strategy can improve traffic from organic search engine listings, and improve the engagement metrics of users.
4. Take a long-view attitude toward SEO
To do SEO right, it takes time and commitment. Results aren’t immediate, but the long-term payoff for your dealership can be tremendous. Initially, an SEO strategy can be tough to embrace compared to the supposedly quicker gratification of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. However, over the long term, SEO will help solidify your dealership’s exposure to and reputation among potential customers. Remember that SEO is a marathon and PPC is a sprint. Although implementing SEO can take long-term training and execution, the results are well worth the time and resource commitment.
In today’s digital environment, it’s more important than ever for dealers to have a digital footprint and be at the top of Google searches. Although it takes time, patience, reworking, and updating search strategy efforts to see the return on investment, SEO should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. The payoff in the long haul will be well worth the wait.
Pete Bruhn is the SEO product manager at Dealer.com, a Dealertrack Solution. He has been in the digital marketing industry for 12 years, including six and a half years at Dealer.com. He has a strong passion for SEO, PPC, content marketing, and all things search marketing-related to deliver high ROI for local and national businesses.
Kevin LeSage, a digital advisor with Dealer.com, also contributed to this article.