SEO Climb with Dave Estey is officially coming to a close. Well, for now, anyway. January wrapped up the first series, which had us all learning the ins and outs of automotive SEO (search engine optimization) for the last few months. To wrap things up, Dave answered some big questions in January, like how long it takes for SEO to start working, how to know if your current team or agency is running the right strategy, and how your brick-and-mortar competitors vary from those online. Missed those episodes? Keep reading for a deep-dive recap on these topics.
How Long Does it Take for SEO to Start Working?
In SEO Climb with Dave Estey Episode 11, the question we all wanted to know the answer to, “How long does it take for SEO to start working?” is finally answered. Although, it may not be the answer most of us want to hear because, as Dave stated, “it depends.” SEO is something that grows over time; as it picks up steam, it will continue to grow faster and faster. That said, you should see some sort of results within the first 3-6 months of SEO strategy implementation.
SEO traction is hard to pinpoint because depending on what you want to target, who else is focusing on the same topics, and so many other factors, it can look different. If you are aiming for low-hanging fruit, you may see almost instantaneous results. If you are shooting for something where large-and-in-charge auto companies like Carvana and AutoTrader are in the top spots, it may take some more time and effort for your dealership to rank well.
So, SEO takes some time to make significant progress, but how do you know when it finally does? For one, you could see an increase in sales at your dealership. It may be worth asking people how they found you when they walk in the door. You never know; it could have been a simple Google search for the nearest Ford dealership. But that is not rock-hard data and shouldn’t be relied on for anything other than fulfilling your curiosity.
There are online tools that you can use to monitor your website’s growth; some are even free! Google Analytics, for example, can give you tons of information about traffic on your website. Is your organic traffic going up and to the right? Is it higher than this month’s traffic last year? Then it is likely your SEO has started working.
Google Search Console is another good and free tool to browse. With this, you can get a good idea of what queries you are showing up for in search. Are you showing up for topics your SEO provider has written about in content? If so, the SEO they are doing for you has begun working.
There are also some paid tools, such as Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz, that can give you a more granular view of what you are ranking for and how long you have held the spot you are in. If you have an SEO provider, they may already have these tools and may grant you access to poke around if you want. SEO doesn’t take a specific amount of time to work, but by utilizing these tools, you can see when it starts to work, giving you a greater idea of what is actually helping you rank and reach your goals. This leads us right to the topic of the next episode.
How Can I Double-Check My SEO Team or Vendor?
Whether you have an in-house team or a vendor handling your SEO, you want to know if the work being put in is, well, working. So how can you double-check and make sure the strategy being executed for your dealership is actually helping you grab more of that ever-needed market share?
The first piece of advice given in SEO Climb with Dave Estey Episode 12: look at your sitemap, which lists all of the pages on your website. If a good SEO company is doing its job, you should see this growing. New content is an essential piece to building authority on your site and ranking for the terms you are focused on. The partner you have hired to do this work should be able to show you the content they have added. If they can’t, they may not be doing all that they can or should.
You can also find great data within some of the tools Dave went over in episode 11. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are great places to go for a double-check. Are the numbers being fed to you accurate? Sometimes a vendor may be looking at filtered views, so you shouldn’t jump to “they’re lying” conclusions right away, but this should spark a conversation.
If something looks different than you expected, talk to the team. There may be a good explanation. If not… Well, it may be time to look for a new SEO partner. In all, use your sitemap and tools to get some insight on whether or not your current agency or in-house team isn’t hitting the nail on the head with SEO, and then simply ask about it.
Brick & Mortar vs Online Competitors
SEO Climb with Dave Estey Episode 13 was the last to air for this first series and focused on the difference between your brick-and-mortar competitors and those online. You may be surprised to learn that they actually aren’t one in the same.
Every month you get OEM reports that list some competitors in your market share. So, that is your only competition, right? Wrong. These reports simply do not include everything. Face it: there are so many competitors out there that you don’t see on the report, competitors that aren’t brick-and-mortar like Carvana and CarMax.
In simple terms: If a website is ranking above you on the search engine results page (SERP) for terms that you wish to garner traffic from, they are your competitor. Dave used the comparison of neighbors, who you see every single day (the brick-and-mortar, closeby dealerships) and online actors, who you wouldn’t know existed unless you went on the internet (your other online competition). It is likely that your closeby dealerships are going to be your competitors, especially when you are focusing on geo-related, local SEO topics, like “Chevy dealer near Houston.” But, your online competitors do not have to be closeby dealerships.
So, you can’t just drive around and count all of the other dealerships in a 25-mile radius to get your list of competitors. But then how do you know who your competitors are? Go to Google and search for terms that are important to your business. Who is ranking? They are your competitors. But just because they are ranking now doesn’t mean you can’t outrank them in the future. Look at what they are doing and do it better. Makes sense, right? But what exactly does “doing it better” look like?
Doing it better means answering the consumer’s questions more comprehensively. Sift through your competition’s content and then take your own swing at it. Write something longer with more details, answer more queries, and craft it to meet consumer needs. Once your content is up and running, you may be surprised at how much going the extra mile can help.
Online competition can be tough, especially when considering the national brands for which you may have to go head-to-head. But SEO is actually the best, cheapest, and in some cases, the only way to be a real competitor in the space. In reality, you will never be able to outspend big brands like Carvana when it comes to paid ads. So, that means SEO is essential, and understanding the difference between your brick-and-mortar and online competitors is pertinent.
SEO Climb Comes to a Close – What’s Next?
Being able to set realistic expectations for how long it will take for SEO to make a change on your site, having the ability to check whether or not your SEO vendor is doing what they say they are, and knowing how to identify your online competitors are all essential to you holding power over your website’s success. At Wikimotive, we truly enjoy equipping dealerships with this type of knowledge; you deserve to hold the power.
So, while SEO Climb Series 1 is coming to a close, we aren’t going to leave you hanging. We have something new coming to Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube really soon. Plus, if you ever have any questions or want a full, free website audit, we are here to help you identify where your SEO could be improved. If there’s one thing about Wikimotive, it’s that we always want to see you crush your competition!