When it comes to executing an automotive SEO strategy, where do you start? It’s a loaded question for sure, so…well…let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. SEO is crucial for any dealership, for the same reason that it’s crucial to the continued success of any business. It speaks to the marketing of your business using the tools that technology has made readily available in order to help businesses reach a wider audience. It is your means of converting far more customers than traditional marketing methods ever could. And it’s a strategy that no modern business can afford to operate without.
But like anything worth doing, SEO isn’t something that you just jump into. Doing so is the equivalent of diving headfirst into an empty swimming pool. Your success will be determined by the strength of the foundation that you build your strategy upon. And therein lies our focus for today: the prioritization and perspective required to make an SEO strategy as effective as possible.
Let’s talk conversion. Does your CRM platform take into consideration how your customers ‘found’ your dealership in the first place? Of course it does (most do). And the truth is, many are still likely to credit traditional marketing, word-of-mouth advertising and/or ad placement. An effective digital marketing strategy takes these increasingly outdated methods and updates them for the digital landscape, making them exponentially more effective. If done properly, the combination of digital marketing and SEO strategies can assert you as an authority, sought out by anyone whose vehicle search begins online. If done poorly, it can be a colossal waste of time, money and resources.
And that’s where it’s important to recognize that Search Engine Optimization (as the part of any digital marketing strategy) isn’t entirely unlike automotive service or home repair. One can choose to undertake the tasks themselves (as opposed to hiring a skilled professional) but in doing so, that party assumes the risk of (potentially) completing the work in a substandard fashion, leading to substandard results. Granted, this criticism doesn’t apply to companies (and dealerships) who employ skilled digital marketers as part of their in-house team. But to those who don’t, the first mistake comes in their inability to embrace (and sometimes facilitate) the core of any SEO strategy…the creation of high-quality content.
And by content, we might be referring to the creation of blog posts, articles in online trade publications or even landing pages on your own website. Depending on the format, well-informed and engaging content is a crucial component in driving more online searches to your doorstep.
But superior SEO writing is a far cry from simply putting pen to paper and hoping for the best results. An art form in its own right (no pun intended) SEO writing is designed to court search engines using keywords, but is only as effective as the content is engaging. Search engines such as Google will assign a value to your content based on the level of engagement that it earns from readers and visitors, alike.
Placing SEO Writing into Perspective
Think of Google as a library, where every page of every book has a sensor affixed to it. Each time a book is opened, and its pages turned, that data is reported to the library. The library then compiles analytics to determine (i) which books are most frequently opened (ii) which books are compelling enough to entice the reader to keep reading, page-after-page, and (iii) which books are read to the last page. In doing so, the library can distinguish which books hold a higher-value in the opinion of the general audience.
That said, the creation of quality content is more than just stuffing a landing page or blog post with keywords. An old school, ‘black hat’ tricks (such as over-saturating a page with keywords rendered invisible by making them the same color as the page’s background) no longer hold weight in the all-seeing eyes of Google. Simply put, there are no shortcuts. Content must be thoroughly conceived, well-researched, written with confidence and enticing to readers of all familiarity levels. On one hand – yes – you are writing for recognition by the machines, but that will be achieved through recognition by the human readers whose engagement with your content asserts you as an authority.
Are You an Authority?
It’s an important question to ask yourself, albeit with a degree of introspective honesty (and humility). To put that directive into better context, you must first set aside the manner in which you view your dealership. You might be well-known within your local community, have a sterling relationship in it, a skilled team of sales professionals, certified technicians and a loyal customer base. But even a dealership with an indisputable litany of real-world credential finds themselves “de-powered” if those strengths aren’t translated for existence in the digital landscape.
So as not to get too heavy-handed in terms of ideas shared in this article, let’s skip a few steps and just ‘assume’ that your dealership has a strong online presence. Great Job! You have a comprehensive website, boasting responsive design to ensure that it works seamlessly on all kinds of devices. Built around the customer, it empowers them to shop and/or schedule maintenance on their own time and terms. You enjoy a wealth of positive online reviews, and your dealership has a strong social media presence where constant engagement provides assurance to both existing and prospective customers. You are doing everything right. The only thing you need to do now is improve your search result rankings so that prospective car-buyers find you among their top results in any Google search. Luckily, you’ve laid a lot of the correct groundwork.
Only when these boxes are ticked with confidence, is a dealership positioned to bolster their level of online authority with high-quality SEO content. Making sure that you’ve built a proper foundation for your digital marketing efforts is crucial. After all, your content might not be competing for ranking on all of the 2.2 million searches initiated on Google daily, but rest assured that no-one’s going to just hand the top search result ranking to you.
Are You Ready for SEO?
Whether your dealership has a long history of employing effective SEO strategies or is simply beginning to test the waters of digital marketing, remember…perspective and prioritization are key. Remember that a foundation is always required to establish the permanence of your authority. Remember who and what you’re writing for, and why. And don’t settle for aimless content generation. Not only do your customers deserve nothing less than excellence, Google is unlikely to recognize anything less than excellent.
Subpar SEO content is how you end up on page two (or lower). And remember what ‘they’ always say, “If you’re looking for a place to hide a dead body, no-one will ever find it on page two of a Google search.”