Basic Tips To Ensure Your Dealership Ranks Higher in Service-Related Searches at the Googles
Here’s a well-publicized fact: the service department represents the lion’s share (now over 80%) of dealer profits--and with new-vehicle sales at 25-30-year-lows each month, it’s a bigger lifeline than ever.
A couple more facts: roughly 9 in 10 consumers now use search engines to hunt down local businesses (up from 70% just a year ago)--and 8 in 10 now use search engines to locate car dealers, making search the #1 way they find and choose dealers (handily beating out Yellow Pages, TV, print, radio, etc.). I mean, when’s the last time you picked up a Yellow Pages?
Driving more service business is more critical than ever—and consumers overwhelmingly find service providers at the search engines…You can see where I’m going… one of the most logical and effective ways to drive service business directly to your dealership is to improve your ranking/visibility at the Googles, where the vast majority of your potential customers are turning when they’re hunting down maintenance, repairs, parts and accessories. And yet, while the SERVICE DEPARTMENT PLUS SEO is a very smart strategy, it’s one of the most under-utilized, as most discussions of SEO revolve around new and used sales.
I admit that a serious, technical discussion of the complexities of Automotive SEO
could fill every page of this website, but the central fact is simple: high search rankings are a relevance game. You can argue about inbound links, page rank and fresh content, which all play key roles--but relevance is always king.
An SEO guru would complain I’m over-simplifying below, and they’d be right—but just as in life and business, I often find, the simpler the better.
5 super-simple things you can do to improve your search placement for Fixed Ops:
1) Because relevance is king, separate out a page, or better yet, a group of pages at your website, solely dedicated to service, parts and accessories. By building this mini-site, you’re creating more concentrated relevance for service searches, which will continue to elevate your value (relevance) in the eyes of the Googles, pushing you closer to the top results.
2) When creating these service pages, make sure you create unique meta-tags specific to service, parts and accessories. Just carrying over your templated tags to each new page won’t work: it dilutes the message of service with your sales, certified and used cars focus. This may require a little wrangling with your web provider, as many have restrictive templated designs, but it’s worth it.
3) Create service, parts and accessories content within each of the service sub-pages to give the page body--and make sure to keep your tags and content fresh over time, to maximize your value to the ‘ever-spidering’ search engines.
4) While the use of Flash may wow your site-users, be sure to retain some contextual service-related relevance on the page--and/or employ new best practice techniques for making flash files relevant to search engines. As a rule, simpler, flash-free sites are more search-friendly.
5) Place your service department phone number on the results links that come up in searches. A significant percentage of searchers grab your number without clicking through to your site. Make sure separate, prominently placed numbers to your sales and service departments appear on every page of your site. Set up a dedicated ‘800’ number for service, to manage inbound calls. The Internet is all about instant gratification…make it easy for people to reach your service department, without bouncing around reception, etc.
Of course the difference between ‘pretty good’ and awesome search penetration is a function of many more complex, small details in aggregate--and this is where it can get challenging for your Internet team to keep up with your competitors who are increasingly taking SEO many steps further.
But these tips provide a super-basic foundation on which more advanced tactics can be built. Ideally, it takes an expert, or better yet, a dynamic, automated technology to manage SEO tasks—for both sales AND service. That’s because optimizing a website is not a ‘one-off’ deal: search placement is a constantly moving target, and always requires a constant, ongoing process for meaningful long-term results.
At my company, eXtéres, we’ve performed objective studies (using only third-party call tracking data from the Who’s Callings, etc) that show that dealers who’ve adopted our SEO technology
are now seeing an average 165% growth in Internet-generated service calls directly into their dealership. Or a jump from 78 to 206 additional inbound service calls every month! And that’s just service…the impact on new and used sales is a whole other, happy story.
When even the most advanced dealer SEO solutions run about a $1000 a month, and you think about the uniquely sustainable high volume of direct leads, calls and sales being generated …the math kind of does itself….
So, whether you start with the very basics, or want to get more aggressive, dealers really need to get an SEO game plan for their service business….
If you have any questions, just drop me an email at: ask.Richard@exteres.com
Richard Winch, CEO, eXtéres Corporation, eXtéresAUTO LLC