In the digital era, customers shopping for vehicles tend to use search engines as their primary point of research.
The dealers they find at the top of Google aren’t necessarily the best ones out there. The dealers they find are the ones who know how to best optimize their website for search.
In this article, I’ll look at five proven SEO tips to help improve your organic search performance.
People are inherently a bit scared of the unknown. That’s why 92% of consumers read online reviews before buying a product or service. They want someone impartial to verify your marketing claims.
But reviews don’t only have an effect on conversion rates. The quantity and quality of reviews are also powerful local ranking factors, especially in the Google Maps Local Pack.
To quickly build up a bank of positive reviews, start by targeting all the low-hanging fruit. Contact your existing customers and ask them to leave a review for you on Google. Even if just 5% actually do so, you’ll instantly gain a whole bunch of reviews.
Next, set up a process to reach all future customers. Most dealerships will already have a bunch of post-sale communication with customers, covering things like questionnaires, upselling, support, and so on. All you need to do is add in another email or letter asking your new customer for a review.
One final point: You should make it as easy as possible for your users to leave reviews. I recommend creating a page on your website that gives users precise step-by-step instructions on how to review your business.
As of last year, mobile traffic officially overtook desktop traffic. So, chances are your website has a large proportion of mobile visitors.
Unfortunately, because automotive websites are big and complicated, they tend to get updated relatively infrequently. This means many dealerships have a five- or 10-year-old website that was built for desktop users, with little thought given to the mobile user experience.
Nowadays, with so many users using either phones or tablets, that’s causing real issues. If a website is not optimized for a mobile user, 79% of visitors will leave to seek a different, more accessible site.
Although mobile optimization can be a big task, getting the basics right isn’t difficult. Make sure your website is responsive or have a mobile version of it, use relative units for elements and type, keep image sizes to a minimum, and so on.
Schema markup has been around since mid-2011. It’s only in the last few years, however, that it’s been really picked up and used by major search engines.
Careful implementation of schema markup can push your website up the rankings and increase your organic exposure. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s quickly recap what schema actually is.
Schema is just a way to structure and describe data on a webpage. It’s basically little bits of code you add around featured content that helps a search engine understand key bits of information.
Schema markup can be used to provide context for a huge range of data. For example, it could explain that a number is a phone number, a rating, a longitude, a price, or a version.
Schema is especially valuable for dealerships because it provides extensive support for vehicles. You can mark up anything, from fuel type and acceleration time to production date and number of previous owners.
How this feeds into SEO is a little trickier to explain because schema markup doesn’t just have one clear effect. Put simply, schema helps power Google’s knowledge graph (the information box to the right of the search results), increases search engine results page (SERP) click-through rates, and is correlated with higher search rankings.
Say you search for “car dealership Dallas.” On the SERPs, the first thing you get is the paid ads, and the last thing you get is the organic rankings. Between the two, you get something called the Snack Pack. It’s a small selection of three results and a maps panel.
Getting your business into the Snack Pack starts with setting up your Google My Business profile. This site operates like any other business directory, but is tied into Google Maps.
Fill out your business name, address, phone number, business hours, directions, and so on. And as I mentioned before, encourage users to leave reviews, because this has a direct effect on how well you rank in the Snack Pack.
People don’t like huge square blocks of text. They do, however, love visual stuff. Images, photos, videos, illustrations—they’re all brilliant for attracting and engaging readers.
Search engines are heartless machines, however, and can’t tell the difference between the Mona Lisa and a finger painting from a toddler. It’s just a collection of pixels.
To help make your images more understandable to search engines, name your files descriptively, and in plain English. A file called pagefourimage12.jpeg is far less understandable than Ford-F150-Raptor.jpeg.
Next up are your alt tags. These bits of code are text alternatives that your browser will display if there’s a problem with the image. Again, use this text to describe the image, and give search engines an idea of what they’re looking at.
Finally, you’ll want to decrease the size of your images as much as possible. If your site is taking more than three seconds to load, your users will fly out the door.
Reduce the quality of your images when you’re saving them but don’t skimp on quality. If they start looking grainy or washed out, push the slider up a little.
By following these five tips, you’ll optimize your dealership website to get the best search results, which ensures your potential customers will find you.
David Vallance is head of content at LeaseFetcher. He is passionate about automotive leasing, and spends his days (and sometimes nights) helping more customers find their way to stress-free, fixed-price motoring.