Until now organic results on Google were divided; website listings stood alone under a few sponsored links, and Google Business Listings and customer reviews were conveniently distanced from your organic placement, a convenient “buffer zone” between organic listings and business listings/customer reviews. Now Google has changed the rules and search results now provide your prospective customer with a snapshot that could help or hinder your website performance; whether it helps or hinders all depends on the quality of your SEO.
With these recent changes, your customer reviews from any number of third-party sites will appear right next to your organic listing, instantly giving your prospective website visitor the opinions of others about their experiences at your dealership. This change makes positive customer reviews even more critical, as Google will display any one of the reviews that are rated the same as your overall average…so if your overall average is low, a very unflattering statement might accompany your listing as well. A high average rating will improve your listing by adding, in addition to your meta-description, a glowing review that bestows credibility and therefore a higher likelihood of clicking through. In fact, every organic component of your Google presence is now aggregated into more of a snapshot than a listing.
Keywords have regained their importance in driving relevant traffic to your website, but this time it’s not about search volume. It’s a critical balance of customer behavior and understanding your own dealership’s market. With the new Google Instant, you now have a way to quickly and easily discover what customers are searching for and on which searches you should appear first. If your dealership has a newer website or a smaller site with fewer inbound links, then longtail keywords will bring you the qualified visits that become conversions. If your website fits this description, then your SEO focus should be on getting those inbound links, as they account for 75 percent of your website’s “search engine authority.”
If your website is older and overflowing with “link juice” you may stand a better chance at ranking higher for the short-tail keywords, but both types are still necessary for well-rounded, comprehensive SEO. A stronger focus on SEO is equally important for either type of website; remember that the term “SEO” now implies far more than its acronym…it’s the pillars of site content, meta content, URL structure, inbound linking and content silo management (linking relevant content together on and off-site) that uphold the stature of your website.
Suppose you haven’t exactly crafted those pillars all too well…is there any good news?
Yes…Google Instant isn’t just offering instant results, it’s trying to change consumer behavior—and providing you with a valuable tool as a result. Customers are now less likely to scroll down below the first-page fold, using the top results to modify their search. Google Instant’s “auto-complete suggestions” are also your tool to determine which keywords you need to put you at the top. Google Instant is teaching consumers to be better searchers, and by the same token, teaching you what they’re searching to find both you and your competition. Use that to your advantage, and remember that your meta content is your organic ad! Your title tag is illuminated in blue, and your description is the text that, if engaging, will persuade the Google user to click.
The moral of the story? Look at your SEO strategy as the five pillars, not just a haphazard list of keywords based on every small town and vehicle model. Realize that your SEO is now synonymous with your online reputation, so it’s time to spruce up. Don’t just let the search engine speak for you, put your best foot forward with SEO and remember that every kilobyte of content is a chance to optimize!
Mike Martinez is chief sales and marketing officer at izmocars.com. For more information about izmocars and SEO, go to www.izmocars.com/solutions/izmorainmaker.
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