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We live in a world where most sentences end with, “Let me Google it.” Information is readily available at our fingertips and consumers are leveraging online research for any major purchase decision. With the help of the internet, consumers are getting smarter and smarter about their vehicle of choice and vehicle services needs including options and price before ever stepping foot into a dealership. In fact, in recent years, these internet-savvy buyers have switched their vehicle research methods to find information through local search, consumer review sites, and social media. These consumers are looking for comments, likes, and reviews about a specific manufacturer’s vehicles and which local dealership to buy from or where to service their vehicle. If they can’t find your dealership through these methods or you have a bad online reputation, they are turning to your competition for their vehicle needs. Today, we are going to focus on local SEO, also known as local search, and how to improve your dealership’s ranking to make sure you are being found by potential buyers.
Define Local Search
Let’s start by defining local search. You are probably used to the phrase organic search, which is the algorithms used for search engines to index relevant and trusted content. This is important for your website’s ranking through many major search engines; however, local search has a geographical component that centers specifically on building search relevance for a specific location, a brick and mortar business. For local SEO, search engines are seeking relevant and trusted locations.
Components of Ideal Local SEO
If you weren’t aware of the importance of local search before reading this article, you’re probably realizing that it is becoming increasingly important to a physical business location to be found on the internet by consumers. In fact, 64% of consumers are using local search to find businesses in their area. There is a basic recipe for local search success which we’ll go into more detail about throughout this article; however, the four components are:
Let’s discuss how these work and the best way to utilize each to build a trusted location for your dealership’s local search.
Correct Directory Listings
Several online directory sites such as Superpages, Foursquare, Citysearch, Google, etc., list information about your dealership like dealership name, phone number, physical address, and website URL. Most likely these sites have your dealership information listed differently or have duplicate entries. Any inconsistency or duplication of entries throughout these sites negatively impacts your local SEO. However, if your dealership’s listings are consistent across all sites and you only have one entry, the local search algorithms see you as a trusted local brand and will rank you higher for relevant searches. Please note, it is important to constantly maintain these listings due to inaccurate data updates that are received by these directory sites.
Post Relevant Social Content
Writing and distributing content about your brand online that engages followers and is shared among their friends and family is a great way to build trust for local SEO. You want to appeal to the masses, so be sure to include a variety of social content. Think about including community or dealer-specific subject matter which gets the most engagement. You should also leverage product-specific information like new model releases or enhancements, utilize OEM-generated content or national events, and include seasonal or holiday content. We find it easiest to create a social calendar so you can spread all of the materials out throughout the month and ensure you have a good mix.
Monitor for Sentiment and Reviews
The way people talk about brands has changed significantly during the past 20 years. Before the rise of review sites, people would talk about brands in a private conversations. Now-a-days, people turn to review sites to discuss their latest experience with a brand. With this shift in how brands are receiving feedback about their products and services, it becomes increasingly important to monitor all online chatter being said about your dealership. Any time a negative post is put on one of these review sites, it affects your local SEO ranking and the opportunity for your dealership to be seen by potential buyers. In fact, one negative review can cost you 30 customers per month.
Promote Reviews with Customers
One of the easiest ways to boost your local SEO ranking and be seen as a trusted location is to promote online reviews. The customers that visit your dealership regularly to have service work performed, come back for their new vehicle purchase, and refer friends and family members to your dealership are exactly the type of person you want to review your dealership online. Think about sending your best customers an email campaign with direct links to where you want reviews to be entered.
Social media and reputation management are no longer the name of the game, but rather pieces that directly affect how trusted and relevant your business is to local consumers. These same consumers may visit your social media and review sites, but the larger problem is how these sites affect your local SEO ranking. The strategy shared with you today increases the authority of your domain, drives relevant traffic to your website, and boosts credibility of your dealership for the long-term success of your business. Think about it like this - you could be losing customers every day if your business is not ranking on local search, so now is the time to get started and really focus on a strategy to ensure your dealership is seen online by potential buyers.