Local SEO for Car Dealers

/Local SEO for Car Dealers
Local SEO for Car Dealers 2017-11-12T10:14:29+00:00

Car dealers face many challenges when trying to attract new customers. One of the biggest is that when people are ready to buy a car, they often run a Google search for the type of car they want, and visit the first dealership or two on the list. To draw in the most customers, then, you need to make your way to the top of the heap.

We will take you step by step through our 5-step process to boost you to the top of the rankings. But first, let’s look at why local SEO is critical for all car dealers.

3 Reasons Car Dealers Should Invest in Local SEO

Goodbye Yellow Pages, Hello Google!

Until recently, you could attract new business by placing an ad in the Yellow Pages and waiting for prospects to show up on your lot. Today, though, 97% of people search for local businesses online, and Google is the king of the hill.

Free Traffic:

Although its face is changing, advertising remains one of the biggest expenses for many companies. Boosting your Google rankings gives you a constant stream of free traffic that you can convert into paying car buyers.

Accelerated Results:

National and international companies must wait, on average, 6 to 12 months to see much improvement in their Google rankings. As a car dealer though, you have a tremendous advantage. Your competition is only those dealerships in your local area, not those across the country. As many of them are not yet taking advantage of local SEO, you could jump to the first page of Google local results in just 30 days!

Step 1: Designate Your Keywords

Your first step is simply to draw up a list of keywords that reflect your services. For example, if you sell used cars, you might choose “pre-owned cars”, “certified cars”, and “secondhand cars”. When your list is fairly complete, create a free Google AdWords account.

You do not need to create or pay for an ad campaign. You need the AdWords account to access the free Google Keyword Planner. This tool lets you input your chosen keywords to find out how much traffic they draw, and suggests related keywords.

Now you can narrow down your list of keywords. All keywords can be loosely categorized into 2 types:

  • Buying Intent: Buying intent keywords mean that a prospect is imminently ready to make a buying decision. For example, someone searching for “Subaru dealership Dallas” likely knows that she wants to buy a Subaru, and is looking for a nearby dealership.

    Place your primary focus on buying intent keywords, which drive the speediest conversions. Feature them on your homepage, and create service pages around them.

  • Research Intent: Research intent keywords are used by prospects who are “just looking around.” They might buy a car in the future, but are in the earliest part of the sales funnel. For example, someone searching for “what is a hybrid” might be thinking ahead towards her next car purchase, and wondering whether a hybrid would be a good choice.

    Research intent keywords should be of lower priority in your campaign, as they do not drive rapid conversions. Do not throw them out, though, as they are extremely useful for blog posts and FAQs. These posts introduce your dealership to prospects who might remember you when they are ready to buy their next vehicle.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

With a finalized list of keywords in hand, it is time to optimize for them on both your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s how:

Google My Business

Your Google My Business page is a sort of miniature website that appears in the “Map” section of Google results for local businesses. It provides a brief overview of your dealership, increases your online presence, and can even give you a fast Google rankings boost, as it is easier to rank a Google My Business page than a website.

Your Google My Business page must be fully and accurately filled out:

  • Verification: The first step is to claim your page and undergo Google’s verification process. You will know this is done when you see a checkmark and the word “Verified” next to your dealership name.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be consistent on your Google My Business page and across the internet. To make it clear that your business is local, use a local phone number rather than an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google requires all category listings to highlight services instead of results. For example, you might choose Car Dealer, Truck Dealer, and Mazda Dealer. Try to list 3 to 5 categories.
  • Description: The description is a brief overview of your dealership, ending with a call to action, that is 100 to 200 words in length. Try a format similar to: {Name of Dealership} offers quality {used cars and trucks, or similar} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your dealership and/or why customers love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for an extra $500 off any vehicle on the lot!
  • Hours: Your hours of operation must be up to date, and consistently listed across all websites.
  • Images: Images dramatically improve customer engagement, so try adding a few photos of your dealership, your team, and your cars. Make sure your images have a sharp focus, are sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. We also recommend replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Begin with your “core” pages, which are your homepage and service pages. Optimize them for your buying intent keywords. Later, you will optimize your “content” pages (FAQs and blogs) for your research intent keywords. Here is where to focus:

  • Homepage: Similar to the chapter title of a book, the title tag is the most important element on your homepage. It must be 50 to 65 characters in length, and should be written similarly to: Car Dealer in {Your City} | {Name of Your Dealership}.

    Your meta description should be roughly 100 to 150 characters long, explain your core services, and end with a call to action. This format is often successful: {Name of Dealership} offers top-quality {luxury cars, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for $500 savings off any car on the lot!

    Your visible headline, or H1, should be both concise and descriptive, and must contain your primary category. Try this: {Car Dealer} in {City, State}.

    Finally, consider your page copy. This is a strongly written and well-edited overview of approximately 500 to 1000 words. Provide some background information, briefly describe your core services, and close with a strong call to action.

  • Service Pages: Give each of your primary services its own service page, tightly targeted to a relevant keyword. Optimize each service page following the tips above.

Step 3: Collect Citations and Links

With the basic structure of your local SEO campaign in place, you are ready to collect citations and links. Both elements will increase your reach and improve your Google rankings.

  • Citations: A citation is a listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) in an online directory. There are general national directories such as Facebook and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your Chamber of Commerce website, and even directories specifically targeted to the car dealership industry.

    Many directories provide free citations, but some require payment. Before you pay, take a look at Google Analytics to see whether that site is driving traffic and conversions.

  • Links: High Google rankings require inbound links from credible, high-quality sites. Build relationships both in person and online with other businesses that provide complementary services, such as auto repair shops. Then ask to trade web links. To find out where your competitors are getting their links, use a tool such as the Moz Open Site Explorer.

Step 4: Request Reviews

Online reviews serve 2 basic purposes: they convince prospects to visit your dealership, and they let Google know that your business is legitimate. While all review sites are helpful, you will see the fastest Google rankings boost from Google My Business reviews. Send your satisfied customers an email with a link to your Google My Business profile, and ask directly for a review. If you do this regularly, you will soon have an ongoing stream of reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

You can only know if your local SEO campaign is a success, and determine which areas need a bit of work, by tracking your results. To sift through the massive amounts of data, focus on these 3 core metrics:

  • Rankings: Google customizes the search results that it displays based on the user’s browsing activities. So in order to determine how a particular page actually ranks, you must use a tool. Ask your webmaster to install the free Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools), and monitor your rankings at least once per month.

    For a more detailed analysis, move to a paid tracking tool, such as the one provided by RankRanger.com. Here, you can view automatically updated information from all of your SEO campaigns, and track your Google My Business page alongside your webpages.

  • Traffic: To track your traffic, or the number of website visitors you receive, use Google Analytics. You can view your overall traffic, find out which page draws the most traffic, and even learn what percentage of your traffic comes from Google search. Check your data at least once per month, and keep an eye out for long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is a specific action that you want your website visitors to perform. For example, you might want your visitors to contact you for $500 off a new vehicle. Google Analytics lets you track both phone and web conversions, and see which of your pages have the highest and lowest conversion rates.

Ready to Go?

Now you understand why a comprehensive local SEO campaign is critical for driving more prospective buyers to your dealership. Work through each step in order, fully completing one before going on to the next. Here’s a quick recap of the 5 steps:

  1.    Keyword research
  2.    Keyword optimization
  3.    Citations and Links
  4.    Reviews
  5.    Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping car dealers attract more local customers through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

Click here to request a Free SEO Quote

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