Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing

Four Keys to Automotive SEO from a Guy in the Trenches

By JD Rucker on Dec 27, 2012

Men in the Trenches

The other day I was in a meeting with a potential client. We were discussing automotive SEO best practices and the way that the search engines are changing the way they rank. We talked about the best ways a dealer can stay ahead of their competition for their current keywords while moving up in the competitive keywords in the area.

It was then that he made an interesting observation:

“I know that you keep on top of this stuff from a theoretical level, but I want to hear from the guy in the trenches that is actually doing the SEO for dealers.”

It was a great point. I’ve personally worked on the optimization for a couple dozen of our clients, but I’m not the guy that works on hundreds of dealers at a time. That guy is Ron Fortier, our SEO manager, so I posed the question to him. Here is what he put down as best practices for dealers, straight from the mouth of the guy leading the team that’s doing the work successfully…

 

Develop or Buy Tools that Help You Make Keyword Decisions Monthly

Priorities for your dealership change based on time of year, inventory levels, competition and conquest strategies. We are all resource constrained whether it be time or money, so we need tools that help us to make the best use of our investment in time. You need to have a tool or process that allows you to identify the most important keywords to work based on your monthly priorities.

Looking for more overall visitors? Your priority would be on keywords with larger impression counts. Looking to convert more of your visitors? Your priority would be on keywords that have high PPC costs and competition. Looking to conquest local dealers or make-model combinations? Your priority would be to view your rankings relative to your competitors. Want a great mix of all of the above? That is typically where we end up. Having a tool that helps you identify the best keywords to work based on your priorities allows you to spend 100% of your content and SEO efforts on tasks that are in line with your stores most immediate priorities.

 

Beware of Thin Content

Google rewards effort, plain and simple. Google’s quality rating guidelines are filled with how to identify low quality, useless content. Their best definition of spam is when you remove all of the template and spam elements from the page, there is nothing of any value remaining. If you are copying content from other sites, or slightly modifying keywords and thinking that you’re fooling Google, you’re not. Google rewards effort. Google rewards typing and content.

Low keyword counts may win here or there in the short run, but every change Google has made over the last 18 months has been an effort to remove thin, low quality pages from its index. Take the time to create content that is of value to a consumer when they get to a page and you won’t have to worry about the next animal-based update released from Google. Content is king and quality, useful content for consumers wins every time.

 

SEO Works Best in a Holistic Approach

Now that you’ve decided what to work with your time, be sure that all of your SEO efforts work in concert.

What content are you going to add to your site that works the keywords you’ve identified? What modifications will you be making to your website’s architecture and internal linking structure that signals to Google the significance of your content change? How will you support your keywords through offsite content and linking? What is your strategy to getting the content crawled and indexed quickly? If you only use one technique then you won’t be working all of the SEO signals and the effectiveness will be lessened. Does your content say one thing and your links another?

Sending mixed messages will also inhibit the effectiveness of your work. Take the time to ensure that all of your monthly SEO efforts are working in concert for maximum effectiveness.

 

Low Sales Funnel Keywords are Big though Small

Everyone wants to find that hidden keyword that will get them a thousand new visitors. We understand and often join the pursuit, but we also chase the keyword combos that will get you 5 visits a month. Insanity? No!

Many of these keywords are very low funnel or “right next to the money” as we like to say internally. Think of someone on a Friday night at 6:00 on Yelp searching restaurants. That search is right next to the money. That individual will eat tonight; they are just deciding where. The same thought applies to many keywords we go after. Consider a year make model search. They know what they’re going to buy. The only question is where and when. Don’t be afraid to mix in the low funnel keywords even though you know that they will be statistically insignificant in overall traffic volumes. That five visitor a month keyword could be the goose that lays the golden egg for years to come.

Comments

JD, thank you for encouraging Ron to share his insight - Ron, thanks for taking the time!

I hope everyone who is either working in the trenches like Ron, or simply managing SEO activity, takes the time to soak these items up, helpful tips that can help you!

Love the last tip too - especially as consumer search behavior changes between desktop, phone and even tablet searches.

Dec 27, 2012

I agree about the last point. It's a tough sell sometimes to dealers who really want to see dramatic increases in traffic when in reality what they're wanting is an increase in leads and sales. A keyword low in the funnel that gets 10 visitors a month might produce more leads and sales than a keyword higher in the funnel that generates 50 visitors.

Dec 28, 2012

While many, including Google, are claiming less emphasis on content and back-links, Ron continues to share their importance - and I agree. At the end of the day, Google has a computer-driven algorithm creating search results, with little human input for evaluating content. Keywords, content, and back-links will always be key components of the algorithm driving search results. Fundamentals folks!

Dec 28, 2012

Absolutely, Kevin. The social signals component as well as attributes such as "author rank" which weren't discussed are the parts where Google and Bing are attempting to crowdsource the human element of the algorithm. It's in a constant state of flux, just as the keyword, content, and link components are, but they're getting closer every day to truly understanding how to apply social signals properly while not leaving a gaping hole through which spammers will be able to manipulate the rankings artificially.

Dec 28, 2012

Great read JD. I especially like how you've gone out of your way to not over-complicate with words like short-tail and long-tail. I really enjoy how you explain the keywords as they relate to funnel. Auto dealers (in particular) are difficult, because they are all about the big numbers, and tend to be impatient. I would like to hear more on how social signals are currently being measured and where that area of SEO will be going in the next 6-12 months. Overall, SEO takes time and effort, and people should be focused on quality over quantity.

Dec 29, 2012

Comments 1 - 5 of 5

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

JD Rucker's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • 5 Ways Car Dealers Can Stand Out on Facebook

    One of the most difficult things businesses seem to struggle with in the their online marketing efforts is social media. While it's not new by the web's standards, businesses have only just begun to tap into its true potential over the last couple of years. In the automotive industry, car dealers who previously questioned the value of automotive social media marketing are beginning to understand its value. With Facebook becoming a great advertising platform, on top of a platform to connect with customers and brand your business, car dealers have an opportunity to  sell more cars for a fraction of what it would normally cost. Let's take a look at ways dealerships can stand out on Facebook.   Stop Self-Promoting and Give the People What They Want When thinking about content for your dealership's Facebook page, stop thinking about self-promotion. It may sound like the exact opposite of what you think a Facebook page is for, but you need to think about how people (including yours...Read post

  • Keep Your Summer Momentum Going by Energizing Your Conquest Strategy

    Every year, dealers across the country try to keep pace with the current marketing trends for the fear of falling behind and losing out to the competition. Not only do you need an excellent retention marketing strategy to ensure customers come back to you, but your dealership also has to find a way to attract potential buyers. Not to mention there are thousands of to-do items that you have to check off every day to keep your store running properly. With so much going on, how do you find time to put together a conquest strategy that works without breaking the bank? Today you’ll learn how to keep your summer momentum going by energizing your conquest strategy. Start with Data Every good marketing strategy starts with data. Often times for conquest programs, this data comes in the form of a purchased list simply because it is not readily available at our fingertips. When venturing out to acquire a purchased list, be sure the consumers have opted-in to receive information about vehicles...Read post

  • Transforming Angry Customers into Satisfied Ones

    An interesting study has been going on for the last 6 month over at Twitter. As it was increasingly seeing users use the platform for brand interactions, the company decided to see just how much of an impact those interactions had. Users were identified that had at some point interacted with a brand’s Twitter account for customer service and 14,000 were surveyed. The results were actually quite amazing.   According to Twitter, when brands interacted with users in a personalized manner, 20 percent of those users were more likely to reach a resolution, while 25 percent were more likely to be satisfied.   And, when customers received friendly customer service interactions with brands, 76 percent of those customers said that they were likely to recommend the brand. Whereas, if the service was unfriendly, 82 percent surveyed stated that they were unlikely to recommend the brand.   That’s huge. And don’t think it doesn’t apply to the automotive industry. In fact, according...Read post

  • Stages of Brand Loyalty

    Many businesses wonder where they are at in the grand scheme of things.  While success is definitely a relative term, for marketers the gold occurs when shoppers begin to develop brand loyalty.  There are three typical stages a business will go through before achieving brand loyalty at large. The first stage a business would want to achieve is awareness.  At it's most basic, this means that people are aware that the business exists.  Many never even reach this stage!  Marketing and a logo can go a long way towards establishing the existence of a business, but the path to brand loyalty doesn't truly begin until the enterprise becomes known for something. Once this occurs, the next stage should hopefully follow. When shoppers begin to develop affinity for a company, brand loyalty is on its way to being established.  In order to achieve this, a business needs to get the customer to care about it and feel that it represents them in some way.  Smart product placement and marketing,...Read post

  • The Tools to Help You Discover Your Market

    Finding your target market is a key part of a successful marketing strategy. Whether you want to highlight new inventory, promote an event, grow your service department’s customer base, or simply boost business, defining your ideal audience is key. It’s easy to be generic when marketing because the hope is always to connect with as many different demographics as possible, but the truth is that the more personal approach you have, the more success you’ll have. You’ll connect with YOUR people—the ones who are really interested in what you’re offering. When your customers feel like all of the attention is on them, they are more than willing to share their experience with their network and help your dealership achieve even higher community engagement. Dealerships already have a plethora of tools in front of them to discover their market, including customer insights and social media. Here are some ways your dealership can discover its market by fully utilizing these tools.   ...Read post

  • May the Phone Be With You - Why Mobile Marketing Is Taking Over

    Have you ever walked down the street and all of a sudden had your phone alert you that you’re near a Starbucks or Walgreens, automatically displaying your loyalty card in Apple Passbook or Google Wallet? Or perhaps you have received push notifications from Waze and other apps that deliver real-time notifications based on your location.  As consumers increasingly rely on mobile phones for information, location-based marketing is becoming more important. Facebook recently launched Facebook Bluetooth Beacons, which enables push messages, tips and invitations to like your page, whenever a customer opens the Facebook app while at your business.   Geo-targeted technology allows businesses to push coupons and offers to nearby users. Many industries - especially retail and hospitality - are adopting these technologies to capture more immediate business. Traditional - and even digital - marketing may still be effective. However,   it takes time for that message to reach the customer b...Read post

  • This Week in Social Media – Week of 8.24.15

    Social Media News for the Week of August 24 via @SocialLittleMan Blab.im Hitting the Social Scene Still in Beta, Blab.im is a chat app marketers and various other users are keeping their eyes on.  Similar to Periscope, its live streaming functionality allows groups of up to four to video chat simultaneously.  Boasting easy-to-install and easy-to-integrate usability, users will also the Blab emoticons, link accessibility, and variety of color schemes for personalization.  With the popularity of instant-message chat, dealerships will want to keep an eye on this app and consider applying to their daily interactions with savvy online consumers.  Chat away, answer shopper questions, and participate in live sales conversations. Twitter Ad Network Expands As it continues to improve and expand its advertising offerings, Twitter recently announced the Twitter Audience Platform, an expanded advertisement platform offering new creative features such as Tweet engagement campaigns that be...Read post

  • Vehicle Service Interval Adherence Decreases by 15.6%

    New research from DMEautomotive reveals vehicle age, and lack of awareness of manufacturer recommendations, contributing to drop in number of consumers following manufacturer recommended service intervals   Daytona Beach, FL – August 25, 2015 – New research from DMEautomotive analyzes the factors influencing the decrease in the number of consumers who adhere to manufacturer’s recommended service intervals for their vehicles. The study of over 8,000 respondents from 2011 to 2014 revealed that the number of consumers who indicate that they regularly follow manufacturers’ recommendations has dropped by 15.6%. With a 4.2 day increase in the service interval from 2013 to 2014, this data reveals a trend of Americans paying less attention to manufacturers’ service schedules and servicing their vehicles less frequently. The DMEa “2015 Service Excellence” study pinpoints several potential contributors to this drop, including the increasing age of vehicles on the road, level...Read post