These days, the marketing reality for automotive dealers is that they must dedicate considerable resources to online efforts. Internet marketing is highly effective in generating leads and targeting potential customers, resulting in closing more deals and driving revenue.
Still, all strategies behind online marketing are not the same, and although you should incorporate more than one, there are specific benefits to search engine optimization (SEO) in particular. SEO ensures that you’re found by the prospects looking for your dealership and its offerings. It’s also what boosts your ranking on search engine results pages, positioning your company above your competition.
Here are eight SEO best practices that should be part of your online marketing strategy.
1. Conduct proper keyword research
SEO is rooted in identifying the keywords that users are searching for online, but there’s much more to the concept. The right usage of keywords within your sites, blogs, and even video content makes your material more crawlable and easier to find.
The easiest way to find the proper keywords is to list certain topics that are popular among car buyers, and then narrow these concepts down to a handful of terms. Build your content around these them, but avoid keyword stuffing—that is, blatant overuse of these keywords, which can harm your website’s ranking.
2. Create great content
Search engines are very sophisticated at seeking out and punishing sites that publish shoddy content; it’s their way of ensuring that they deliver an enjoyable online experience for the user.
On one hand, you must distribute content that’s free of grammatical or spelling errors, and that avoids overuse of your keywords. On the other hand, it’s also important that your material be valuable, entertaining, and informative for your audience.
3. Consistently publish fresh content
In addition to creating great content, you have to publish it on a regular basis, as often as possible. Search engines reward fresh material by boosting your content higher on their results pages. Their algorithms are intended to achieve the goal of presenting a user with a rich online experience: Out-of-date blog posts, white papers, and videos become irrelevant and run contrary to this objective.
4. Take advantage of local search
The vast majority of car purchasers research the vehicles they’re interested in online, review consumer reports, and assess market values. When it comes to actually buying an automobile, however, they’ll turn to a local dealership.
This is why it’s essential to incorporate local search capabilities that rank your dealership based on geography. There are paid services that offer this feature, but you can list your dealership with “yellow pages”–type sites as well.
5. Incorporate social media and sharing capabilities
You can incorporate the sharing benefits of social media to enhance your dealership’s SEO. Because you’ve created great content that’s useful to your audience, they’ll want to share it on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.
When they do, they’re posting links back to your site to increase exposure among the search engines. In addition, blogs also incorporate shared content, leading to additional quality links back to your dealership’s site. As a result, you’ll rank higher on the search pages.
6. Diversify home page listings
For dealerships with multiple locations, it’s smart to create landing pages for each. Include such details as history, physical address, and links to inventory. Most importantly, diversify the content you include on the pages. These are separate pages in the eyes of search engines, which enhances SEO for each one.
7. Increase your SEO reach with rich snippets
When data is incorporated into your website source code according to a certain structure known as rich snippets, it can be identified and read more efficiently by the search engines.
Essentially, rich snippets help the search engine ensure that your dealership is found because the search engines crawl the content for keywords and for the rich snippet data. Google provides a useful tool for embedding this type of data, also known as microformatting.
8. Don’t forget about mobile users
SEO best practices for dealerships are those that respond to existing trends and build the framework for future developments. You need to be where your potential customers are hanging out, and because portable devices surpassed desktops in 2014 among Internet users, that means going mobile. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile users, and incorporate mobile ads and apps.
Online marketing doesn’t seem so overwhelming when you know these simple best practices to improve your SEO and move your dealership higher on the search engine results page. Always remember that there are prospects out there who are ready, willing, and able to buy a vehicle, and they’re searching for your dealership. Make sure they can find you.
Jeff Dodson is the founder and CEO of Dodson Auto Group, a family-run business offering automotive professionals everything from forms and direct mail fulfillment to business card printing and payment solutions, under one roof. With Dodson, businesses can consolidate purchasing into a single supplier, saving time and money. You can reach Jeff at [email protected].
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