The Complete SEO Primer for Dealerships

Dealerships probably know by now that content is important on their website and social media accounts. Great content keeps customers engaged, and this engagement and on-site exploration could convert to sales.

How much does the dealership know about SEO, though? While keywords are important, search engine optimization is more than just integrating the best phrases into content. Dealerships can use this SEO primer to better understand the basics of optimizing for the best rankings and online visibility.

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. This term relates to creating content and websites that can perform well on search engine queries. While SEO broadly denotes all search engines, most SEO experts focus on one particular engine: Google.

While there are many search engines available on the internet, Google reigns supreme. Unfortunately for SEO experts, Google’s searches also are controlled by algorithms. These unique directions tell the engine which pages are most relevant to a user’s search request.

Algorithms are constantly being updated and changed, and these updates keep experts guessing on how to best optimize content to appear at the top of a search page. No one—besides Google—knows the details of these algorithms, and most SEO experts can only guess as to how each update will impact the success of a page.

SEO Primer for Dealerships

Google Penalties and Black-Hat SEO

Google also doles out penalties for SEO wrongdoers. Black-hat SEO techniques are those that aim to blatantly manipulate the search results; this can be done by keyword stuffing (using a keyword over and over again without any meaningful context) or in other ways, too.

When Google suspects black-hat SEO, the business website can disappear completely in search results or simply be bumped far down the list. To avoid penalties, marketers focus on white hat techniques, or those that use keywords in an organic manner and in meaningful ways to enhance a user’s search experience.

If a site is punished via a penalty, they will receive a notice on Google Search Console. It’s possible to come back from a penalty, but Search Engine Journal explains that the site will need to submit a note to Google about what caused the issue and how the issue will be corrected. This is called a ‘Reconsideration Request.’

SEO is More than Just a Phrase

While keywords or phrases are part of the way that businesses can optimize their content to perform better on search engines, the practice of SEO isn’t just streamlined to keyword use. Dealer Inspire explains that SEO for car dealerships also includes:

  • Creating meaningful and relevant content
  • Auditing website health
  • Local optimization
  • Google business profile and prominence

Meaningful Content

Keywords are absolutely useless if the content is subpar or doesn’t add relevance to a user’s search query. When an individual uses Google to find an answer to a question or to find information about a specific subject, they want the data that is relevant to their search.

SEO relies on certain keywords or phrases, but Google also rewards good content. If dealerships are answering a question about ‘how often to change the oil in a car,’ the article about the subject needs to focus on that subject. The content needs to answer the question and provide the consumer with how often they really need to change their oil.

Unfortunately, some businesses use keywords irrelevantly. They weave them into content but never provide a meaningful answer or any useful information related to those search keywords.

When dealerships need to optimize older content or articles, update them with current information. Dealerships also could publish new articles that add more to the conversation with information that is current. 

Dealerships should stay on top of trends, important auto news and create content that integrates this newer information into the questions for which consumers are searching via Google and other engines.

SEO Primer for Dealerships

Audit Website Health

Dealer Inspire ranked website health as the top item for SEO. Ultimately, if a website isn’t functional and healthy, it likely won’t matter what content is on it.

Websites should be audited for broken links, missing information, slow loading, etc. In addition, SEO techniques also weave into page links. Keywords related to searches are often included in links to pages to further boost visibility and to help the search engines properly categorize the page.

Whenever dealerships are posting a blog article or any content online, each page should include a meta title and meta description. These tags also include the same keywords used in the content. If the targeted keyword for content is ‘honda models 2022,’ use the phrase as part of the meta tags for the title and description.

Optimize Locally

When consumers use search engines to search for businesses, will the dealership pop up for local listings? Optimize for local searches to ensure that the dealership becomes visible to those looking locally.

Dealer Inspire recommends that dealerships check their information across the internet to ensure that the dealership name, address information, and phone number (aka NAP) is the same. Any discrepancies could make a difference.

Other recommendations from Dealer Inspire include using local towns in content and creating best of content focused on local venues. The site explains that this could draw local users to the site; if they search for best hamburgers in Louisville and the dealership has a post that ranks Louisville restaurants on their burgers, it will show up in search results.

Creating content around local interest is yet another way to optimize content without just focusing on classic keywords related to the industry.

Don’t Forget about the Google Business Profile

Dealerships can and should claim their Google Business Profile. This is a page that will come up when someone searches for the business. The profile includes links to reviews, the business website and more. Google Profiles are designed a bit like feature snippets.

Car dealerships should take the time to claim their profile and keep it updated. Have the business’ hours changed? Make those updates. In addition, Dealer Inspire advises dealerships to also include a Q&A section and posts that can be linked to their Google Profile. Use the profile to the full extent to stay relevant and remain visible.

SEO Primer for Dealerships

Don’t Ditch those Keywords, Though

Keywords are still important to SEO for the dealership’s website and online content. Using industry-relevant keywords can still help the site rank well and appear at the top of a consumer’s search query.

However, SEO involves thinking outside of the standard keyword focused rut. Use local content that’s optimized on cities and specific content to boost visibility and online relevancy.

In addition, dealerships should audit the health of their website. Broken links and outdated content could land the site lower on the search query list. Dealerships also should weave keywords into page link names, meta title information and the meta description of the page, too.

Dealerships that haven’t claimed their Google Business Profile also should do this ASAP. Include posts and a Q&A section to add interest and relevant information. Make sure that the name, address and phone number is the same across all internet listings, too. Any differences can screw up the ranking.

Even when dealerships are creating content around specific phrases and keywords to optimize their site, relevancy is important. Make sure that the content answers the question that it’s attempting to address. Provide useful information to users and don’t use black-hat techniques like keyword stuffing to try and manipulate the algorithms. Google will catch black-hat users and the resulting penalties can be damaging to a website.