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In my previous Navigating SEO post, I introduced you to the idea of local SEO, its unique differences from organic results, and detailed a few of the most important ranking factors that could be helping or hurting your dealership's website.
Today, I'm going to go beyond the basic explanations and help you take action to improve your rankings and reach more ready-to-buy customers than ever before. It's not an easy process, but the results you can achieve will be the absolute most effective of any SEO strategy you're currently implementing.
Ready to work? Let's go!
Your citations are probably a mess. I don't pretend to know that for a fact, but it's a trend I've noticed with every car dealership Wikimotive has worked with recently.
Whether it's inconsistent phone numbers, changing business names, or poorly-formatted addresses, they all present issues when Google comes knocking. When it crawls the web, it's looking for consistent information about your business in order to determine that they're correct in placing your business in local results for specific keywords.
The more citations you have, and from high-quality/relevant sources, the more Google says "Ok, you're probably who you say you are, so let's get you ranked." (Note: I can't actually hear or talk to Google's search algorithm, so don't take that literally!)
To fix these inconsistencies to create or improve rankings, you need to actually find them. That's easier said than done.
Luckily for you, I have a handy tool to make that process as simple as possible.
Whitespark Local Citation Finder
Easily the best tool for citations, Whitespark searches the web for citations based on information you provide it so you can easily identify and correct inconsistencies.
Now, your dealership probably has multiple phone numbers it uses for tracking calls from specific sources. Make sure you search do unique searches with each of those numbers. It's very likely that most of your citation inconsistency is caused simply by phone numbers.
You want the SAME phone number on Google and citations. It's fine if you have multiple on sites like that allow you to add separate numbers for sales or service, but make sure the main phone number is the same throughout the web. That applies to all of your information, and we'll touch on that more in just a moment.
Once you've got your searches completed, use Whitespark to export that information to spreadsheets, make a new spreadsheet, and copy the information into a single file. Now the fun begins!
Doing the Work Manually Pays Off
So here's the deal: I love automation. It saves time, money, and is just plain simple. The problem? Sometimes it just doesn't work. And if you're in the business of providing a high quality service the way I am, or you just want to do what's right for your dealership, you've got to roll up your sleeves and do grunt work every now and then.
Before we get started, though, you need to get one thing done: deciding on the proper format for your citation information. Here's how that works.
These two citations are not the same:
ABC Motors of Rindge
1234 ABC Drive SW
Rindge, NH 03461
ABC Motors - Used Car Superstore
1234 ABC Dr.
Rindge, NH 03461
You need to stick with a single format. No exceptions!
Why Manual is the Only Way to Go
In the case of citations, doing it manually is really the only way to ensure everything is correct and that the job actually gets done. Citation management and creation services, such as Moz Local and Yext, are often slow and sloppy because they have to connect to third party sources, which often already have your business's information, which can lead to duplicate listings on a lot of sites.
Instead, you're going to go through and manually claim (and edit) each and every listing that Whitespark provided you. This will not be a fast job, so you need to come up with a game plan. Whether that's tackling ten listings per week for the next month or two, working over the weekend, or coming in to work early every day until it's done, make sure you stick to your plan.
Some sites have an extremely simple process of claiming, while some make you call and jump through hoops. Every site is different.
Once you get started, add the login/password for each site [that has one] to the master spreadsheet you created earlier. You don't want to lose those, just in case you need to update this information down the road!
Focus on Mentions and Links from Local Sources
You might be thinking to yourself: what's the difference between links from a local newspaper vs. a car blog?
Google knows the relevancy of content better than you might think. For instance, it knows that a link to a car dealer website on a site about rare African birds is completely irrelevant, and that a link to a car dealer on a blog about cars is completely relevant.
For a local site, such as a newspaper or independent blog, the context is clearly local. You're located in a certain city, the paper covers that city, and the content on the page likely mentions that location.
If you're doing any outreach or linkbuilding, try to spend more time focusing on local sources. Whether that means sending out press releases about events or news from your dealership, or connecting directly with local writers who might be interested in covering an automotive-related story, take action!
Whether it's a mention, which is known as an unstructured citation for local SEO, or an actual link, Google sees that as another indicator of the legitimacy of your business.
Don't overthink these tasks. They may be filed under the advanced category of local SEO, but the actual work is simple (but tedious). If you can successfully accomplish this, and work on building new citations, your dealership will be ahead of the curve and likely start ranking better than ever before.