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Timothy Martell

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Exclusive Blog Posts

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Navigating SEO: How to Prevent Google Content Penalties


Google Content Penalties


Navigating SEO is a 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.


When publishing content to your website, there are plenty of questions to ask yourself:


  • Are there any spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Is the information factual?
  • Is it formatted properly?


While these three questions are extremely important, you're probably not thinking about the SEO implications of your content. But Google has the power to label your content "poor quality" and could punish you as a result. This is why it's important for car dealers to understand exactly what Google likes and dislikes, in order to prevent penalties that could cost you traffic (and sales, as a result).


Below, we'll go over a few important points that could save you from future issues and put you on the right path toward SEO success.


Avoid Duplicate Content


If you follow my writing, you know that I mention duplicate content quite often when referencing problems with car dealer SEO. Unsurprisingly, this hasn't changed today.


It's of utmost importance that you avoid duplicate content across all editable pages on your website. What I mean by this is, you should only have unique, original content written for your website. Don't just rely on the content provided by your website provider. Here's why:


"It's just not feasible for a website provider to write unique content on every page for every dealership," DealerOn's Greg Gifford said in a recent forum post here on DrivingSales.


So before you go live with a new website, you need to ensure that ALL of the content on the site is written specifically for your dealership, as it's not something all website providers offer.


Now, there are certain types of duplicate content that Google deems "non-malicious." This includes the type of content seen on VDPs. Google understands that sites with "store items" often feature the same content across multiple websites.


The search engine doesn’t want to accidentally punish a site for this, so they came up with a solution: canonicalization. This allows you to tell Google that the page has duplicate content and point the search engine to the original source of this content. For car dealers, the source of a VDP would be the SRP. So the best practice for  new Dodge Challenger VDPs would be to canonicalize all new Challenger VDPs to the SRP that displays all new Challengers. 


Many modern automotive website providers offer this out of the box, but it's not something that's caught on with most of the big players in the industry. Next time you have a meeting with any website provider, ask them about their canonicalization integration. This will tell you whether or not you're going to get an SEO-friendly platform to work with.


Go In-Depth When Possible


If you're creating informational content on your website, be sure there's actually value behind the content before publishing. This content needs to go above and beyond to provide the best and most in-depth information to your site's visitors.


Unfortunately, many SEO companies, as well as independent content creators, will focus on creating the bare minimum in order to build out a large number of pages. I have no doubt that these services are cost effective, but they will not provide results. In fact, they could be hurting your website's SEO.


In its Search Console Help section, Google provides this information regarding thin content:


"Some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content. Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don't add substantial value to users."


For example, you can have a page on your site that talks about oil change but doesn't provide any actual value. This means it doesn't include unique information, answer questions, or serve any purpose other than to rank for certain keywords. Avoid that at all cost.


Instead, always be sure your dealership is…


Create Content Based on User Intent


The key to creating great content is matching the intent with that of the user. That's why you need to think about WHO will visit a page before you even create content for it. The more you start thinking about intent, the better your content will be and the better conversions you'll receive across your website.


Let's use the Service page as an example, as it's something each and every franchise dealership has on their website. Ask yourself these questions:


  • Who's going to be viewing this page? (People interested in service at your dealership.)


  • What do they want from this page? (Information on your services, why they should visit, and a way to contact the dealership to schedule service.)


  • Does my current content provide them with what they want to know? (If your current service page doesn't provide visitors with the information mentioned above, it needs to be updated.)


You can use these questions to gauge the intended effectiveness of every content page on your website. And unless you're fine with not providing potential customers with the best information, I suggest you make this one of your top priorities, as it effects both SEO and website conversion.



At the end of the day, Google is looking out for its users. It wants to provide them with the best results possible with little to no effort on their end. If you provide Google with the type of content it wants to provide its users, the search engine will begin to reward your site. That translates into more traffic, more conversions, and more sales!



Read Last Week's ColumnWhy Dealers Need Content to Succeed with SEO


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