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Andrew James

Andrew James Digital Marketing Manager

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Car Dealership SEO: The Ultimate Guide

Great SEO (Search Engine Optimization) performance of a dealership’s website is a must-have to be competitive.

Google continues to be the king of search engines – and that’s not changing anytime soon.

It’s important dealerships and/or their SEO vendor stay current on Google’s algorithmic changes that might impact the effectiveness of their websites.

Search engines like Google are responsible for the majority of dealership website traffic.

SEO is critical to dealerships’ organic traffic because it allows search engines top find their website and recognize its relevancy to the searches that users perform.

When a user searches keywords on a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.), dealerships’ websites are crawled for both the creative and technical components that algorithmically rank their website.

Remember, the search engine is crawling all dealerships’ websites nearby the user’s location, which likely includes competitors.

Dealerships should ensure their website is fully optimized to take advantage of all potential organic results from search engines to compete on brand awareness, new and used car leads, and parts and service new/returning business.

Depending on the current state of a website, the process of optimization for the desired keywords and terms can take months.

Additionally, once your dealership’s website rises to the top, it takes continuous work to stay there.

How To Choose The Best SEO Vendor For Your Dealership

Great SEO requires constant attention to an ever-changing digital marketing landscape that can be complicated.

Just like the inside and outside of a dealership’s showroom, their website needs continuous monitoring and upkeep.

Because SEO is so detrimental to a dealership’s success, many dealerships hire an SEO vendor.

Anytime a dealership partners with an outside vendor, appropriate vetting should take place.

Research time is often needed to find a vendor who can assist a store to achieve their digital marketing goals.

To begin, dealerships should document the challenges they are facing in detail along with their short-term and long-term SEO goals.

While reviewing their challenges and goals, pay close attention to the type of service and features you would like your SEO vendor to offer.

Luckily, there is a non-biased resource that has been collecting thousands of vendor ratings from dealership professionals for years that have been verified to help stores research the best vendors to achieve their goals.

DrivingSales Vendor Ratings is the best resource to research and view verified feedback from other dealership professionals who are current/pasts customers of various vendors in retail automotive.


DrivingSales Vendor Ratings allows dealerships to save valuable time deciding which vendors to consider.

When considering a SEO vendor for your dealership, find out what core services they offer.

Here are a handful of services to consider: On page optimization, off page optimization, needs analysis, keyword analysis and reporting methods.

Most vendors sell their services in different pricing “packages.”

Dealerships should weight their SEO goals along with their budget when considering any vendor product or service.

How To Optimize Your Website For Mobile Devices

There are several onsite and offsite differentiators that impact the SEO of a dealership’s website directly and indirectly.

Mobile searches have been increasing for years and as of 2015 more searches took place on a mobile devices than on computers in the U.S.

According to Hitwise, almost 60% of U.S. searches were from a mobile device.

Mobile usage is continuing to grow and plays a vital role in the SEO success for dealerships’ websites.

It’s important to ensure your content and web design look great on mobile devices while enabling search engines to decide what kinds of queries you should rank for as Google is moving towards a mobile-first index.

Part of a solid SEO strategy should entail analyzing mobile website visitors' behavior to look for opportunities.

How SEO Can Help You Connect With Local Customers

Local SEO is another essential part of a strong SEO strategy.

According to BrightLocal, “Local SEO helps businesses promote themselves online to local customers within a geographic area. The difference between local SEO and organic SEO is intent. Google can (pretty well, too) pick out search queries that have ‘local intent,’ meaning the searcher wants search engine results with local companies.”

Per GO-Globe, almost 50% of searches on Google are for local products and services.

Take advantage of Google Posts.

Dealers should make sure their dealership’s Google My Business profiles are up-to-date.

Be sure to optimize your URL tags and content.

Another aspect to consider is citations.

Dealerships should make sure their name, address and phone number are consistent across their websites, Google My Business, and trusted citation sites.

Video SEO Best Practices,
Including YouTube

It’s 2018, which means you can’t go too far into any digital marketing strategy without mentioning video and SEO is no exception.

There are several video ranking factors that can help dealerships with their SEO.

This is partially due to the fact 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching videos.

Not only that, but YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google.

Dealerships should be considering how to produce high volume, quality videos for their websites along with YouTube and social media to increase their SEO performance.

To engage potential customers, ensure your videos have a nice hook to keep them engaged during the first 15-seconds.

Dealerships should consider creating longer parts and service educational videos for YouTube as the number one ranking factor is total watch time.

Use the exacted keyword once in the title of the video because Google and YouTube use it to understand what the video is all about.

Be sure to say your keyword in the video, otherwise YouTube will penalize your ranking.

How to Increase Your YouTube Engagement by 374%

Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Website Optimization Checklist

On-page optimization

On page optimization focuses on optimizing the content and other aspects of a web page, which communicates to search engines each page is about. Dealership professionals shouldn’t be afraid to ask their potential SEO vendor how they approach optimizing on page content and let them explain their philosophy.

Off-page optimization

Does the SEO vendor understand off-page elements and what they can do for your website? Off-page services often include social media, blogging and link building from relevant websites. It is also important for dealerships to find a SEO vendor that understands who they are and what their, “Why buy from me?” message is. Find a vendor who understands retail automotive and how new and used car online leads are generated. Dealerships should make sure their vendor can help with their parts and service web pages as well if it’s not being overseen in house.

Needs analysis

The SEO vendor who wins a dealership’s business should understand their needs and what they hope to accomplish (short-term and long-term goals). During the needs analysis process, make sure the company understands retail automotive. They should be asking intelligent questions about where the dealership has been from a digital marketing perspective and ask about the history of the dealership’s website.

Keyword analysis

Without effective keywords, an effective SEO campaign cannot be achieved. Ask and understand how a prospective SEO vendor selects keywords or building links to your website. Make sure they know how to analyze a keyword’s volume appropriately.

Reporting methods

Ensure the SEO vendor being considered can provide reports, which easily show the progress of a dealership’s SEO campaign regularly. The reports should provide enough information to see each individual aspect of what a dealership is paying for and paint a clear picture as to where to go next from a strategy perspective.

Tori Zinger

Wow! This is super-helpful, Andrew! Thanks for posting!

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