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.
While there are thousands of articles that talk about search ranking factors, the majority of your site's success will come down to a few core factors. Ensuring you've got those boxes checked is what ultimately allows you to have the best search presence in your market.
In this post, I'll go over four of the most important factors that determine SEO success for car dealers, while offering tips and tricks to help you improve your site, grow organic traffic consistently, and sell more cars as a result.
By now, you all know how important it is to actually have a website. There's just no contesting this in 2015. But beyond simply having a website, it's important that your site is developed and designed to allow it to comply with current web standards and search engine guidelines, load quickly, navigate users to their intended destination, and foster conversions.
None of these are simple, but they are the difference makers between a high quality and low quality website. If you're settling for a low quality website, that's the equivalent of settling for a beater over a brand new car. Sure, the beater may get you from point A to point B, but it's also prone to problems unlike a brand new car.
Upgrading your website is no different than upgrading to a new car. With your website, age starts to show and things don't work as well as they used to in previous years. Standards change, so your performance is going to suffer when compared to sites that have adapted to changes.
With automotive websites, this includes responsive design, advanced schema markup, and canonicalization. These aren't optional parts of your site's architecture if you want to continue to grow traffic, so get in touch with your website provider immediately to ensure your site isn't left behind by changing web standards.
Clean Metadata and Keyword Focus
One of the biggest problems Wikimotive has consistently come across with dealer websites is a lack of clean, optimized metadata.
What do I mean by clean?
Clean metadata uses natural language, steers clear of stuffing keywords, and stays within the 60-character limit. Below are a couple of examples of how the title tag of a dealership homepage should and shouldn't be written:
Unfortunately, we see way too many title tags that look like our unclean example above. This might have worked for SEO ten years ago, but over-optimizing a title tag won't boost your rankings in 2015.
It's important to also note that meta descriptions--the two lines of text that appear on search result pages--don't actually affect Google search rankings. But that doesn't mean they're not important, as they can affect user CTR. If you're not writing unique descriptions to properly pitch and describe your content, you could be losing traffic without even knowing.
Finally, make sure the keywords you're targeting in title tags are high-volume by checking local data through Google's Keyword Planner tool. With tags and descriptions, you should only try to focus on one keyword per page. Other similar keywords can be targeted within the main content of a page.
Since Google's Hummingbird update of 2013, page intent has been one of the most important factors in SEO success. What this means is, pages need purpose. You can't simply add keyword-optimized content and expect results anymore.
Instead, you have to think about why someone would visit your page, craft your content for that specific purpose, and optimize it for keywords that match the intent. While this can be tricky, Wikimotive has discovered that there are two types of content for car dealers: informational and transactional.
For informational keywords, such as "reasons to buy a used car," users aren't looking to hear about your amazing used car inventory. They simply want to be provided with a few compelling reasons to buy a used car (presumably over a new car).
Transactional keywords are those associated with some type of business or purchase. For dealers that cater to bad credit buyers, you might have a page that focuses on "Bad Credit Car Loans in [CITY, STATE]." On this page, you'll want to talk about how your dealership handles bad credit loans and why loan seekers should choose to do business with you.
Even if your page isn't necessarily a "content" page, it's still important to nail the intent. For dealerships, a great example would be service scheduling. If you have a schedule service page, this should include contact information or a tool that allows for online scheduling. A main "Service" page might describe your service business and what you provide, which then links to the schedule service page.
As you audit your site, intent should always be on your mind. By improving this, you'll not only achieve more organic traffic, but that traffic will convert better thanks to the changes made.
In the past few years, Google has drastically changed the way digital marketers and businesses have to approach SEO in almost every single way. One of the most sweeping changes was made to links and how Google views their authority.
The search engine giant has been able to tell the difference between an authoritative site and a non-authoritative site for a long time, thanks to its PageRank system. But many experts now believe that Google is taking quality and relevancy into account at a deeper level in order to better pass link authority.
So it's not enough to just acquire links from a variety of sites. You have to think about the quality of the site overall , the quality of the page on the site that hosts the link, and how relevant its content is to your site. This does make proper linkbuilding much more difficult of a task for both marketers and businesses, but it also means the reward is much sweeter.
Have questions about recent Google changes or other ways you can help your dealership succeed in search? Let's start a discussion in the comments below!