Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing term that describes creating content (including website pages) that is written to rank high on Google and other search engines. To improve the ranking, marketing professionals utilize a number of tactics including choosing keywords that represent popular search queries on the engines.
SEO also involves providing informative and useful content to users and ensuring that key data related to businesses remains consistent across all online media and digital sources. There are rules that guide SEO and breaking these rules can lead to penalties from search engines. These dealer SEO best practices can increase web rankings and help the online visibility of the dealership’s website or blog:
- Creating impactful and informative content
- Choosing relevant keywords for content
- Providing online resources that increase the user experience (UX)
- Linking to authoritative websites in copy
SEO for Car Dealers: How to Create Impactful and Informative Content
When optimizing content for the web, most businesses focus on Google. While there are numerous search engines available, Google dominates the market share. The company has become so aligned with web searches that its name is a synonym for searching the web (Google it!).
Google’s main focus is to provide the best and most relevant results for every user’s search query. No one but the company’s programmers/engineers know the algorithms that determine search rankings, but every marketing pro knows that a few factors influence the order of search results and help determine the sites that appear at the top of the page.
Google rewards impactful and informative content. Again, the company wants its users to get the best results for each query. Content that answers a specific question or focuses on expanding on a specific topic that relates to a popular search query might perform well on a search.
While Google will never disclose the secrets behind its algorithms, the company provides a basic explanation as to how results are selected. According to Google, “…Search algorithms look at many factors and signals, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings.”
The company further explains that when searching for news, most recent stories might appear first (aka ‘fresh content’). To find the best information for each query, Google explains that it also looks at the ‘quality of content.’ The pages that could provide the best and most useful information related to a query would be placed higher on a user’s search results.
In addition, the page or site must relate to the query; Google users would not be happy if results didn’t focus on their search. In mere seconds, the algorithm must identify useful, relevant and current information for every single query.
When creating content for a web page or a blog, dealerships need to keep in mind that they must write quality and useful content. It needs to be well-researched (for blogs) and clearly and professionally written. Google points out three factors that help determine quality: trust, authority and expertise.
Dealerships are the expert on cars, and their content needs to demonstrate this expertise. Trust matters, too. Can users trust the site? Building trust with an audience is important. Google explains that ‘trust’ is built from other pages; if others link to the site, this is indicative that others trust the content.
Dealer SEO: Choose Relevant Keywords
Web searches are guided by the phrases that are entered by users into the search engine. Sometimes these phrases can seem nonsensical, but Google still has to analyze and interpret them and the algorithm must deliver results that help the user find what they want (even if what they want isn’t always clear).
One tactic that SEO professionals use to help their content rank high on Google queries is to include common search keywords into website copy and blog content. For copywriters, this can be tricky because, again, keywords aren’t always clearly worded. SEO writers research the keywords that relate to their client and then use these words to develop high-ranking content.
The keywords must be included organically into copy; they must make sense and they can’t distract from the message or the readability of an article, webpage or blog post. Dealerships and their web team can use programs that help them research the most relevant keywords for their business.
SEO for Car Dealerships: Create a Dynamic User Experience
Copy and optimize the words on a website or blog can help improve rankings via Google. However, the user’s experience also is an important consideration. The tools and resources a company provides online also can build authority and trust. If the dealership’s website offers a unique augmented reality experience, then other sites might link to the page or reference the experience in an article on their blog.
The resources that dealerships can provide to their customers and site visitors can positively impact the overall user experience. For this reason, dealerships might consider integrating interactive photos or adding unique resources that visitors can use as they are researching their vehicle options.
Some sites include loan calculators or other helpful tools. Add value to the website by integrating resources to help customers find what they want and research all their vehicle options.
SEO for Car Dealerships: Link to Sites with Authority and Trust
The trust and authority of a source can impact rankings. When dealerships write blog articles or other content, they should link to sites that are known to be trusted sources with accurate information. For example, when writing about car trends, dealerships might link to an article from Kelley Blue Book or Car and Driver.
If dealerships are writing an article about car financing, they might link to Investopedia or other trustworthy financial sites. Dealerships should always remember to cite their sources, too; link to the site so that users know the source of the information. Don’t guess about information; research everything and cite the data.
SEO Best Practices for Car Dealerships: Understand the Dark Side of SEO
Not all SEO professionals follow best practices of the industry; some utilize ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. The term ‘black hat’ refers to SEO practices that violate the terms of service or guidelines of search engines like Google. Black hat SEO gets its name from ‘black magic’ and refers to the nefarious reputation of these techniques.
Examples of Black Hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing, hiding text, pulling content from a web page (stealing!) and ‘spinning.’ Keyword stuffing refers to a tactic in which the writer places keywords into content without context or sometimes even logic. They ‘stuff’ them into the article, and Google will catch this.
Semrush explains that some tactics are no longer used as Google caught on, and hiding text might no longer be a common trick; this involved hiding text behind other text, and while the user couldn’t see it, the engines picked it up. Some SEO tricksters steal articles from other sites; plagiarism is not taken kindly by Google (plus it could have other consequences).
Article spinning might be a newer black hat technique. ‘Spinning’ means that an article is stolen but reworded so that it’s different. There are tools that offer to ‘spin’ content. Businesses should stay away from the ‘spin!’ The tactic is still stealing content, but it simply masks it with new words.
Other SEO Best Practices for Dealerships
There are numerous ‘white hat’ techniques for optimizing web pages, blogs and other content to help it rank better via the search engines. However, businesses also should focus on consistency related to their site, their social media pages and even their Google Business Profile.
All information about the business needs to be consistent across all these profiles and pages. Rizen Metrics explains that dealerships should focus on the business’ name, its address and its phone number (NAP). If the website spells out “Street” in the address, all other profiles and pages should also spell out Street. Dealerships should check the information on their Google Business Profile, their website, all social media pages, etc.
In addition, the dealership’s Google Business Profile needs to be maintained. This profile is important because if a user searches for the business, the profile will appear either at the top of the search (on mobile devices) or on the right side of the page (for PC searches). Many experts advise businesses to ask customers to leave reviews on the Google Business Profile and to keep the profile updated. When a customer leaves a review, it’s important for the business to respond; this shows engagement and attentiveness. Google offers businesses the option to post pictures and other details on their profile, too.
SEO is Online Power
Car dealerships that discover that their website or blog articles aren’t ranking well on Google might need to focus on better SEO practices. While Google’s algorithms are a mystery even to SEO pros, there are many ‘white hat’ techniques for improving a business’ visibility via the search engine. Incorporating relevant keywords, writing informative and useful articles and content, linking to trustworthy sources and adding tools/resources that elevate the user experience could help improve rankings and performance on Google and boost sales, too.