Dealers: Here’s How to Avoid Missed Opportunities

Automotive SEO professional standing in the middle of map points in city names.
Posted on by Meaghan StPeter
Categories: Automotive SEO Tagged: , , ,

If you only look at how your dealership ranks within your city, you’re likely missing out on tons of leads. One of the most important pieces to an automotive SEO strategy is measuring and improving rankings over distance. You may hold the #1 spot for those important “Ford dealership” and “used Ford dealership” keywords when searching from your store’s location, but what about five miles outside of the city? Or ten? If you’re not ranking consistently throughout your market and surrounding geography, you’re losing potential customers left and right. So, let’s look at how to avoid missing out on these important opportunities. 

Understanding Rank Over Distance

The ranking sites on a search engine results page (SERP) will be different depending on where a given user is located. This is because Google works to serve the best results possible, which is often dependent on the searcher’s location. For example, someone in Salt Lake City, Utah, would be disappointed if they were shown a list of Ford dealerships in Cincinnati, Ohio, so Google, for the most part, isn’t going to serve them those results. With this logic, you’d think that if you’re the closest dealership to someone searching for your brand, you’ll rank first. However, both unfortunately and fortunately, that is not the case.

While it is likely that users in your city will see your dealership first or second for branded dealer searches, assuming you’re the only dealer of your brand there, the waters become muddied as you move further out. Oftentimes, dealers without an SEO strategy in place will find that they’re not ranking as well for their bread-and-butter terms even in the next town over, and this continues to drop as you search from further out. However, ranking in these other areas is essential to sales growth.

The Connection Between Rankings & Sales

Of course, it’s important to perform well in your own geo location. But let’s be honest, there are only so many people looking to buy a car at the same time in the same place. That’s why it’s essential to rank in other places, specifically in viable, close-by towns with people who have easy access to your dealership. Your ability to do so largely depends on your geographic landscape; a dealer who is in a major metro may want to focus on suburbs within ten miles, while a dealer in a remote area may increase this to 25 or 30 miles, sometimes even further.

Regardless, by increasing your rankings and becoming more visible to users in other cities, you’re, in turn, increasing your potential customer pool. And by increasing your potential customer pool, you’re likely increasing your sales. In all, understanding and improving your rank over distance is one of the easiest, most overlooked ways to improve your dealership’s content marketing, SEO, competitive landscape, and, therefore, sales performance.

Building a Bridge to Your Dealership

It’s clear that improving your rank over distance is a ticket to an increase in traffic and sales, but where do you start? The first step is to understand your current standings. Take one of those bread-and-butter terms, such as “Ford dealership” or “used car dealers,” and use a keyword research tool, such as Mangools, to see how you rank in your city. Then check the cities around you. How well do you rank there? What about those one step out? 

At Wikimotive, we are using heatmaps to visualize this for dealers:

Heat map representing Google search results across the Dallas and Forth Worth area.

In this example, you can see that the dealer ranks #1 for “used car dealers” in their own city, which means they have earned an estimated click-through rate (CTR) of 31%. But even in those neighboring towns, they drop to the second (17% CTR), third (13% CTR), fourth (8% CTR), and even fifth (6% CTR) position. Moving one layer out from there, the dealer drops to positions nine and ten, which both have an estimated CTR of 1%, and then drops off completely, missing out on large opportunities such as their closeby major metros, Dallas and Fort Worth. 

Once you have a good understanding of your rank over distance for a key term like this, you can begin building a strategy for improvement. This is where quality content and link building come into play, or what is known as the “Hub and Spoke Method.” This strategy consists of having a hub page that focuses on the core keyword, such as the “used car dealers” term in the example heatmap. To then build authority for this keyword in various locations, you build “spoke pages,” which are the core keyword plus a geo, like “used car dealer near Dallas,” and link from the spoke to the hub. 

This mix of high-quality content and linking will help build your site’s authority for your main keyword within those important geos. This can be done for a variety of keywords to improve your rank over distance, help you grab more market share, and increase your sales.

Get Your Rank By Distance Heatmap Today!

Rank by distance is an essential part of automotive marketing success. By increasing your spot on SERPs for key terms within your target geos, you’ll increase your dealership’s visibility, conversions, and sales. And the first part of this is understanding your current standings, which is where we at Wikimotive can help.

We’re offering free heatmaps, like the example above, for dealers anywhere and everywhere. Contact us and we will put together a comprehensive map to show you where you are and aren’t ranking well for a keyword that is important to your dealership. Then, if you want to learn more and start improving what you see, we’re happy to get you started with our services. What are you waiting for? Get your free heat map and start improving your rank by distance today!