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Andrew James

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The Dealership's Local SEO Checklist: How To Rank Your Website In 2018

Hello DrivingSales community, and welcome to another Whiteboard tutorial!

This week, we’re discussing SEO for your dealership’s website, and specifically what to work on when you’re partnering with an SEO vendor, or if you’re tackling SEO yourself, what outcomes to keep in mind as you’re breaking out your work into campaigns.

 

Checklist for Local SEO

So, let’s start with the two main objectives for dealerships when looking at SEO as a marketing strategy, and then I’ll walk you through 3 different SEO campaigns you should be running on a monthly basis.

Generally speaking, when it comes to SEO for local businesses, we have two main objectives:

1. Direct customers who are researching cars to your dealership website, and present them with an easy to use and valuable shopping experience so much so that they schedule an appointment, call or visit your dealership to complete their purchase.

2. Maintain positive and controlled real estate on the first page of results for your brand. This means that when someone searches Google or Bing for your dealership, they see your website, your social profiles, reviews and even press mentions in the search results. They don’t see “_______ dealership sucks”.

From there, we take those outcomes, and work up SEO campaigns with those goals in mind.

SEO has always been sort of mystical, in that the average person doesn’t really know why Google displays certain websites on page one of the results, therefore there’s a lot of voodoo that goes along with SEO. Right? That’s the thought.

Well, even though we don’t have direct access to Google and don’t know exactly what their search algorithms are, we do know that they consider many different things when determining who ranks in the top ten results, and these ranking factors are generally best practices.

Following one particular best practice isn’t going to get your dealership ranking near the top, but if you follow these best practices, and you’re a legitimate business providing value to your customers, you can see some success with SEO.

So, who is this whiteboard video for?

If you’re working with an SEO vendor, this will help you understand what they’re working on, and help you both align on common goals.

If you’re tackling SEO yourself, this checklist will give you a framework from which to build your campaigns on.

So, knowing what our goals are with SEO, and whether you have a team you’re working with, or you’re creating these campaigns yourself, what are specific SEO tasks you can do each month to increase your dealership’s visibility in local searches?

I have 3 different campaigns, with 3 tasks for each that you can audit and complete on a monthly basis, which will all tie in to your core objectives and help you rank higher in the search engines.

Local SEO Checklist For Auto Dealerships

First, we want to audit the technical aspects of our website, that can help people navigate and find what they’re looking for, and also help the search engines crawl and index the pages.

So there are a number of things we can look at from a technical SEO standpoint, but I think here are the most important factors. First, we want our business name, address and phone number to be listed either in the footer or the header of the website, and also on the Contact Us page. Also, we want it to be complete and consistent across the site.

Next, we’ve got to make sure that the content on the website is unique. A lot of times, dealerships may just duplicate content across the pages, for vehicle descriptions for example.

Also, make sure the URLs of the website match the site’s hierarchy. My example here is lexusutah.com. If you’re searching through the new car inventory, it would be lexusutah.com/new/. If you’re looking at a particular model, say the LC500, that vehicle is under the new car folder.

The 2nd SEO campaign to focus on is the business citations. Now a citation is any mention of the dealership’s Name, Address and Phone Number on the web.

This can be in directories like Yellowpages.com or Yelp, or Facebook, blogs and local news sites.

First, we want to run an audit of our dealership’s citations, just to see what needs to be fixed. This can be done for free using a tool from Moz. You can check it out at moz.com/local/search.

What we want to do next is after we have a list of our business’ broken, missing and incomplete citations, is to create a plan to fix them.

This can be done through a number of tools or services, or can even be done manually.

The goal here is that the more citations your dealership has, and the more consistent and complete those citations are across all these sites, the more likely your dealership will rank higher for these local searches in Google.

Also, we want to make a plan to build new citations on sites and directories that don’t have your information.

There again are a few tools that can do this, like Moz Local or Loganix.

The third ongoing SEO campaign we want to look at is our dealership’s reputation. Google wants to give preference to local businesses who have a good online reputation in the form of reviews and ratings, in addition to good technical site structure and citations that we just discussed.

So let’s talk about some things you can do to stay proactive with your dealership’s online reputation.

First, is displaying reviews and testimonials across the website.

Not only is this unique content, but it’s also going to give credibility to those brand new visitors to your site that maybe don’t know much about your business.

Second, is asking customers for reviews. Now, Google will display a star rating next to your listing based on the number of Google Reviews your dealership has. So one thing we can do is email our customers who have Gmail addresses, and ask them to review the dealership on Google. That’s an easy thing to do, and it will go a long way in adding more Google Reviews to our business listing.

Third, there’s always a possibility that a dealership can get negative reviews, so we want to make sure we’re being proactive with those negative reviews and responding to them in a professional and transparent manner, and also thanking those who leave positive reviews.

Now, all these strategies should be ongoing each month, meaning you’re auditing where you’re at with technical structure of the site, how the citations are being fixed and built, and the dealership’s online reputation, but you’re also being proactive and building new campaigns around improvement of each of these metrics.

Alright, we covered a lot of information today, and I’m eager to hear your specific SEO plans and which one of these strategies you’re going to be tackling first, so please leave your comments.

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