With 2016 in the books, it’s time to start preparing your dealership’s website for a new year of search engine optimization (SEO). As the expectations of the marketplace continue to shift, along with the algorithms used by search engines, big changes are coming for 2017.
At the very least, the algorithms are going to punish complacency. Simply hoping that you can continue to do what you have always done will probably land your dealership’s website SEO at the bottom of the stack—if it’s allowed in the stack at all.
What do you need to know about the coming year, and how to prepare your dealership’s search engine optimization for it?
Does your website have a schema markup? If yours is like most dealerships, you have one, but you haven’t taken the time to properly optimize it.
Your schema is essentially code that helps search engines quickly understand what your website is about. Why is this important? Because your schema can help Google decide where to display your website in relevant search results.
This little bit of code will quickly tell search engines either “Yes, this website is relevant and provides valuable answers to the searcher’s questions,” or “No, this website is not relevant.”
It also provides enough content for Google’s Quick Answers feature, which is becoming increasingly popular in search results, and will become even more prominent in the future.
Changes in structure of results
Do you remember the search engine Ask Jeeves? Most people use either Google or Bing, with a few defecting from the big names to engines like Yahoo and MSN, but you won’t find many people using Ask Jeeves now.
Ask Jeeves encouraged its users to phrase their queries in the form of a question. It stood in opposition to most other search engines, which wanted their users to make their queries as short and as concise as possible.
We’re seeing the pendulum swing back the other way, with more and more people typing complete questions into search bars, rather than shortening their questions into just a few words.
Google has responded by providing the Answer Box, which is essentially a box at the top of the search results containing a snippet of information (and often a picture) designed to answer the user’s question.
For example, if you ask Google, “Who was the president in 2002?” you will find at the top of all relevant search results a box containing a picture of President Bush and his name. It’s the same box you’ll see at the top of a page if you ask Google to define a word for you.
There has also been an increase in the number of characters permitted in titles and meta descriptions. Take advantage of those extra characters to make sure that your title and descriptions are as robust as possible.
The commercial four-pack
People who use a search engine to look for dealerships with the intent of buying a car are more likely to see a four-pack of ads at the top of their search result than those who are obviously only looking for information.
This means that investing time and money into a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign may not be a bad idea. With an increasing number of search queries receiving the commercial four-pack, it’s more important than ever for your website to be as close to the top of the organic search results as possible, because fewer of these results appear above the fold of the page.
Site speed is already important, and will be increasingly so in 2017. Google studies show that the slower your website loads, the fewer conversions you’ll get, with even a one-second delay resulting in more than 5% fewer conversions.
This is especially important on mobile websites, where users expect more speed and concise information than from laptops or desktops.
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.
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