Why is my dealership getting outranked in Search?

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Posted on by Zach Billings
Categories: Automotive SEO, High Performance

So, you’re here [let’s call it “Location A”] and you’re being outranked by another dealership way over here [“Location B”]? There are a number of factors that cause a dealership across the country to rank higher than you do, beginning with the keyword.

Getting Outranked | Transactional Searches vs. Informational Searches

Is this a transactional keyword that would indicate that the searcher is planning on walking into your store to transact? It’s unlikely that you’re being outranked for that, certainly not across the country, probably not beyond state borders, although there are exceptions.

For informational keywords (ex: “F-150 towing capacity”, “BMW warning lights”) it’s very easy for a dealership anywhere in the country to hold a national ranking. It just means that they wrote a piece of content – and were probably the first to the bite on that particular keyword or subject matter – and they wrote a bunch about it. Or they’re just the only ones who have written anything significant about it. That can give them an edge in ranking over you, but it isn’t something to really lose sleep about.

If – on the other hand – you are losing out to another dealership on a transactional keyword that’s your bread & butter (ex: “Toyota dealership”, “Ford dealership”, “used cars for sale”) it’s a lot more concerning, and can be based on a number of factors.

Reason #1 | More Inventory

If the other dealership has vastly more inventory than you do, that alone can make the difference. If it’s a keyword like “used cars for sale” and they have 7x as many used cars (because they’re sharing inventory with their group) that can be recognized by Google as an indication that website is just a better result for the end user. So…if you have a group that you can share inventory with, you might do that to compete with it.

Reason #2 | Better Content

On the other hand, if they’re out-ranking you with a piece of content, what most likely is happening is that they have a piece of content that is:

  • More unique
  • Longer
  • Written more for consumers
  • Probably “all of the above”

Solution | Do Better Content SEO

Write content which is unique, which is written for consumers, and which is longer than the competition by maybe a factor of two or more (aim for 1000+ words).

Don’t rely on AI writing, at least not solely. You can use AI to bolster things like FAQs within a piece of content, but don’t try and write from the ground up with AI, because you’re going to get a canned piece of content.
Write content with the intent of answering the consumer question that’s implied by the search (for which you are not out-ranking the dealership that you want to outrank).

Focus on those factors, and you should be able to increase your ranking, but be careful about spinning your wheels. Do the keyword search volume research or talk to your vendor about which keywords are actually being searched by consumers. And don’t get yourself wrapped up in keywords that actually turn out, they don’t matter, either because they’re informational in nature or because not enough people are searching for them.


  • There’s a difference between ranking for ‘informational searches’ and ‘transactional searches’.
  • Outside of your local competitors, don’t worry about being out-ranked on informational searches. It’s all about the timeliness and relevance of the content created by that dealership and you can do it too.
  • To improve your ranking on transactional searches, focus on creating unique, human written content, over a thousand words in length, that anticipates and answers the consumer’s needs.