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Navigating SEO is a DrivingSales.com exclusive series by Timothy Martell, CEO of Wikimotive. In this series, Tim breaks down ways dealers can improve their SEO and offers insight into how it will benefit business.
Every dealer wants to sell more cars each and every month. But in order to accomplish that, it's likely some other dealership in your area has to lose out. Just like you, they're looking to get a leg up on their competition, and there's no better place to do that than online.
Digital marketing isn't fair, though. Businesses that work hard and implement the right strategies see better results, while those that take short cuts continue to ask themselves why they're not succeeding online.
If you're looking for an unfair advantage with automotive SEO, here are five ways you can take action and outdo your competitors:
If you follow my writing, you know that I have a bone to pick with most of the large, established automotive website vendors. They tend to be slow, outdated, impossible to customize, bad for conversions, and detrimental to any real SEO efforts.
There are a select few, however, that really get it right. They develop beautiful, high-converting sites that use the latest code standards and comply with Google's Webmaster Guidelines right out of the box.
I recommend that this is the first thing you do above all else when having issues growing web traffic.
(I make it a point to never mention names in a public post, but if you want to discuss this topic in detail, feel free to PM here on DrivingSales or email me: tim [at] wikimotive.com)
Whether you've had your website provider create content or paid a different vendor to produce content in the past, it needs to be audited if your site is losing or failing to grow organic traffic.
Some of this content could be considered thin and be hurting your site's SEO without any word from Google. This is why you absolutely need to do a thorough audit of your site. Any content that is unusually short (less than 400 words), keyword stuffed, or simply not receiving traffic should be put on a list to be rewritten or purged from your site altogether.
The rewrites should be longform (1000 or more words), and do more than target a single keyword. Use the Adwords Keyword Planner tool to search for keywords that are semantically similar to those previously targeted on the page and make an effort to use those naturally throughout the content of the page.
You should also research longtail keywords related to your main keywords and attempt to integrate those topics as best as possible in order to provide the most in-depth information possible.
(I suggest rewriting instead of purging, as it's the safest way to ensure you don't lose any more traffic.)
On top of auditing and hopefully rewriting older content, you need to have a content strategy in place to ensure the production of new content.
The easiest way to start this is to develop pages for each of the new models your dealership sells. These pages should be targeted at local buyers, informing them of how the specific vehicle is a great fit for life in the area.
For instance, if you're located up north you could promote your AWD/4WD SUVs for their practicality during harsh winter weather. Or if you're located in sunny California, a convertible is definitely something that could be enjoyed more than other parts of the nation.
While you're thinking about making location relevant to the vehicle, be sure to also think about the intent of the buyer and who they are. What type of person typically buys this car? What do they love about it?
Use the information you know about buyers and your inventory to craft unique selling points that engage users and separate your content from the pack.
Having a great relationship with local press is a great way to get mentions on TV, print, and online, but it's also a great way to get links to your website.
Instead of just sending out press releases, however, find individual contacts at a variety of newspapers and TV stations in your area. These contacts should be focused on the web side of the news, as the tangible SEO value is in the mentions and links you're able to acquire online.
Introduce yourself and ask if there's an interest in automotive-related stories. You could be their source for everything automotive, or simply send in information about new vehicles, driving advice, seasonal car care tips, etc.
Be direct with your requests, as most reporters and writers don't have time to beat around the bush. If they like what you have to say, they'll respond. If not, don't give up (at least not immediately). You should consistently try to make a connection with each person you reach out to, but if you're not getting a response after five or more inquiries it's time to move on.
Overall, this is a great way to promote your dealership and provide a good benefit to your website's SEO.
When's the last time you checked out your listings on sites like Yelp, Foursquare, YellowPages, and countless other business listing aggregators? If it was a month ago, I can forgive you. But if you've gone more than a year, there's likely tons of incorrect information about your dealership floating around.
The kicker? You could be hurting your SEO, and losing sales in the process. Do yourself a favor and audit these sites.
You can search your exact dealership's address or phone number in order to create a list, or pull in listings attached to both new and old phone numbers with WhiteSpark's Local Citation Finder. This incredible tool will help you quickly determine which listings are correct and which ones need to be updated.
The reason these listings are so important is because Google uses this information to determine the legitimacy of your business, and may decide to exclude you from the coveted local map results if you don't have your ducks in a row.
Take these five suggestions to heart and stop ignoring the elephant in the room. SEO is here, and it's not going away. You can either do it right now, or suffer the pain of defeat when your competition has the unfair advantage on you!