The Ultimate Automotive SEO Guide for Dealers

Tailor your dealership website with page elements and content relevant to the needs of car shoppers

The days are long gone when dealers attracted great business through only their brick-and-mortar shops. Today, a dealership website is a must so customers know what you have to offer—before stepping into your dealership.


Your website needs to be a virtual showroom to generate sales. To accomplish this, you need to be familiar with marketing and SEO strategies for generating sales and building traffic, and understand the basics of automotive SEO.

What is automotive SEO, exactly?

Basically, automotive SEO is the process of building a website tailored for dealerships, with page elements and content relevant to those customers who want to purchase a car, sell a car, or just gain information about a particular make/model.

Automotive SEO modifies the relevancy of navigation links, meta tags, headlines, content, and keywords to help your dealership website rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs).

Why should dealers use SEO?

Google has very strict and specific guidelines for ranking websites. By using SEO, dealers can improve the chances of their dealership ranking in SERPs.

By following Google’s protocols, you can also improve the relevance and quality of your website. This in turn helps boost your exposure to your target audience, resulting in increased website traffic and more sales and conversions.

On-page SEO techniques

When optimizing your website, you must ensure everything is relevant to the automotive industry. In many ways, Google can’t understand web page content the way humans do.

Optimizing content in a natural way maintains keyword focus and readability, an important part of the automotive SEO process. Your content should be optimized in text format—scripts, images, and animations may be ignored by search engines.

The following are key techniques and best practices all dealerships should incorporate into their website’s SEO.

Meta descriptions and titles

Always write a meta description for all automotive-related content you’re providing on any particular page. It should be a short summary of what the primary source of your content is.

Meta descriptions appear under the title in the search results, and help improve your SEO rankings. Make sure to craft a compelling description and use relevant keywords to attract your target audience. The average length of meta descriptions is 160 characters.

The meta title is a crucial part of ensuring your website is optimized. For instance, if you offer a review of a 2016 Civic, make sure to add a relevant meta title like “A Review of the 2016 Honda Civic.”

This tells search engine crawlers and your viewers exactly what page they are visiting and what information they will find there. Search engines display about 50 to 60 characters of a meta title.

Keyword research

Determining the best and most relevant keywords to target is a vital part of the automotive SEO process. This involves using tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, which suggests estimated search volume regarding a particular keyword based on a history of previous user searches.

It’s also important to choose targeted keywords. For instance, if you offer a service like a car wash in Allentown, the relevant keyword would be “car wash in Allentown.”

Heading and alt tags

Heading tags are used to represent different sections of your website content. Search engine crawlers check the relevancy of your content with the header tag. Make sure to use h1, h2, and h3 tags in your content to make it more appealing.

Also, make sure to use alt tags with your images (which crawlers can’t scan). This makes it easier for them to understand what the particular image is.

For instance, if the image shows the interior of a brand-new Civic, the alt tags would be 2017 Honda Civic, Interior, and Styling.

Off-page SEO techniques

In addition to your on-page SEO, you must focus on your off-page SEO techniques. This process involves acquiring citations and inbound links (backlinks) from quality websites to improve the reputation and trustworthiness of your site.

Google analyzes the backlink profile of dealer websites by looking at the relevance of content containing the link, quality of inbound links, and number of referring domains.

Referral traffic and referring domains

Get links from quality websites to improve the reputation of your website and gain a boost in web traffic. Referring domains is a crucial part of automotive SEO, which increases your credibility and reputation in the online marketplace.

Try to obtain a good amount of inbound links, which indicate the true importance of a website in the eyes of Google.

Editorial and noneditorial links

When you provide content to your viewers, don’t hesitate to add references for topically relevant information. Examples of editorial links include content that provides vehicle features, current automobile industry news, or a how-to-guide for car maintenance tasks.

Noneditorial links tend to have lesser value than outreach and editorial links, but are easier to get. Sources include social media websites, industry blogs, business profiles, and high-quality directories.

Dealership listings

To further improve the image of your website and prove the authenticity of your services, claim Dealership Listing status on Google. This process requires adding images, videos, links, and more.

Try using only relevant keywords when describing your business. Google can be funny about attempts to “game” the system or over-optimize.

Finally, claim all your social media profiles to get a fan base. These profiles will display the real side of your dealership (photos, videos, and stories regarding your business), and include your phone number, address, and name.

To make sure you get the most out of dealership’s automotive SEO, follow the guidelines given here to improve your website’s search rankings, and maximize your sales.

Adam Roseland is the founder of 814 Interactive, a leading digital marketing firm that specializes in automotive SEO. Adam has been working in the advertising industry for the past 10+ years, primarily in the digital space, helping local dealers get more ups. Curious how your SEO stacks up? Run a free SEO audit for your dealership right now at im814.com.

Adam Roseland

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