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When we take on a new client, I have the opportunity to really dive into the Search Engine Optimization that has been done the sites by various vendors. There are certain things we do that others do not do and visa versa. Everyone thinks they have the right formula -- it's all a matter of knowledge and taste.
One thing that is definitely not up for debate is the keyword selection. This essential part of the equation can help set a proper SEO campaign in the right direction. It can also be the part that ruins the optimization of a website and sends it down the dark path of oblivion.
Perhaps the biggest mistake that dealers make is that they want to optimize for everything. They want their websites to rank well in 100 different cities. Regardless of where people are and how often they search for a particular keyword, the dealer often wants it. In search engine pay-per-click marketing, this isn't a bad thing as the click itself is what is paid for. Adding another keyword, even if it's not a very good one, will not hurt a dealer website.
In SEO, it can result in disaster.
Search engine optimization is not an infinite pool from which to pull. The days of "keyword stuffing" are behind us. The search engines, when looking at onsite content, use percentages more than they use bulk. In other words, if you have 500 words of content and 10 of those words are "Chicago Toyota" then the search engines consider that as 2% of the content.
Now, take the dealer who wants to add Chicago and 100 tiny cities into the mix. All of a sudden, their primary market area of Chicago has been diluted by the presence of all the other cities.
When doing keyword research (or paying someone else to do it) it is important to be smart. A dealership can go for a lot of keywords at a time as long as they don't go overboard. One major metro and 4 or 5 smaller cities close by is good. You will be fine going with up to 3 major metros and 20 smaller cities (such as San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose).
Beyond that, you're diluting your SEO. Once you're ranked well for the first batch, it's okay to add more later, but in the beginning, going for hundreds will result in success in none.
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Read more Automotive SEO Tips on this blog.