Search for “cars” on Google, and at the top of the results page, you’ll find a map that shows as many as three car dealerships within a few-mile radius. Conduct the same exact search from the other side of town, and you’ll find that the three listed dealerships are completely different.
The whole purpose of Google is to address searchers’ queries as quickly and efficiently as possible, and on the local level, the algorithm factors the searcher’s location into the results. In addition to showing businesses that are nearby, Google also wants to make sure that searchers have a positive experience at those businesses, so the search engine is selective when it comes to their results.
To determine the best businesses to list, Google looks at over 200 ranking signals to ensure that the results are the best that they can be. Many of these signals come directly from the businesses’ websites, but there are also several signals outside the websites that are considered, such as online directory listings, citations, backlinks and customer reviews to name a few.
As a dealership, you want to make sure that you are showing up in local searches, and doing so has all to do with building your local SEO. With over 200 ranking signals to consider, it is impossible to capitalize on them all, but what you can do is work on the ones that have been proven to boost site performance in the local sphere.
That is where content marketing comes into play.
How Keywords Can Increase Your Local Domain Authority
There are several factors that should be considered before starting a local content marketing strategy, and that is why it’s always important to do your keyword research before writing content.
Keywords still play a large part in SEO, as they tell Google what is contained on your pages and your site as a whole. When trying to build relevance around a particular subject matter or when trying to increase organic presence in a certain area, it’s important to build out a library of pages with keywords related to that subject matter or area, as those keywords help to establish the site as a relevant source of information for the topic or region.
For example, let’s say that your dealership is located just outside of Pittsburgh. The physical dealership location is a few miles out in Crafton, PA, but Pittsburgh is your primary target city. For one, dealerships actually located in Pittsburgh will almost always beat you, but if you only have a handful of mentions of Pittsburgh on the site, Google will find your dealership even less relevant for Pittsburgh-area searches.
However, if you start getting multiple mentions of Pittsburgh on your homepage and your inventory pages, and start a content marketing strategy that is centered around Pittsburgh, those keywords will help to increase your chances of ranking higher for certain searches in the Pittsburgh area.
Writing Local Content for Your Dealership
Before you start building content, you’ll want to select one primary target city to focus on. Most often, it makes sense to keep this as the city that you’re actually located in, but if you’re already dominating your hometown and you have a shot to enter a larger, low-competition market nearby (such as in the example above), you may want to focus your efforts there instead. Once you have that target city locked down, you can get to writing.
One of the benefits of writing local content is that it doesn’t take a ton of research—that is especially true if you are one of the many dealerships that already has strong community involvement. If you are sponsoring a local golf tournament or 5k run, blog about the event. Mention that you’re a sponsor and include all the details for those who may be looking for information on registration, times and parking.
Even if you run a smaller operation and don’t have the budget to sponsor events, all you have to do is write about things that are happening in your city. If there are big events or holiday parades, those are all great topics for local content. Fourth of July fireworks times and trick-or-treat times also make for great blogs, as a large percentage of people in your area are looking for that information.
Every post that you build out should have one designated keyword phrase. This keyword phrase should include the name of the event, but more importantly, it absolutely needs to include the primary city target that you selected. For example, if you were writing about Fourth of July events, your keyword could look something like “2019 4th of July Parade and Fireworks in Pittsburgh PA.”
Center your content around that keyword, and when it comes time to post the content, make sure that you get that keyword—or a close variation of it—in the URL, page heading, meta title, meta description, image alt text and the content itself. This is search engine optimization in its literal form, and pasting the keyword in those spots helps to ensure that both Google and searchers can understand what the page is about.
The Benefits of Executing a Local Content Strategy
It’s worth noting that someone grabbing the start time of the fireworks probably isn’t going to fill out a lead form and buy a car right then and there. More often than not, they’ll get the information they came for and be on their way. However, you’re still achieving two important things in the process:
One, you’re expanding that library of local keywords and driving people from your area to your website. As mentioned earlier, the more relevant keywords and city mentions that you have, the better. Having people from your immediate area coming to the site is also helping your cause, as Google sees the spikes in relevant traffic to the blog and may start to rank your other pages higher in local searches.
On top of that, you’re getting some brand recognition. That fireworks-goer may have never heard about your dealership before, but now they have. When they stumble upon your site again in a few months to get the trick-or-treat times, you’re adding yet another interaction with that person which could very well result in at least a consideration of your dealership when it comes time to buy a car in the future.
Another one of the benefits to local content is backlink development, which is crucial for local SEO. A high number of links pointing to a page or site helps search engines to understand that people see the content as valuable. When blogging about some of the best food trucks in the area, or sponsored events that benefit a certain cause, there is a good chance that links to your blog posts from the food truck website, or from the Humane Society website, for example, will show up without you even asking them to put one there.
If you have the time, you can even build backlinks by putting the content development in the hands of someone else. Reach out to local bloggers and offer them a free car detailing in exchange for an article on their website (see photo), or ask them to test drive a car for a weekend and have them detail their experience on social media. Not only can you get some valuable backlinks to your website, but you’re gaining exposure from their local readers and followers, which can help to drive more business to your dealership.
DealerFire: Providing Local Content Before it was Cool
As the “local content hipsters” of the automotive industry, we’ve been capitalizing on local content for years, and we have seen the power that it can have on a website and local SEO. Our experience has also taught us that it takes a significant amount of time to really see those sweet, sweet SEO gains. Thankfully for you, we have the team and the time to build out local content, and to get your dealership’s website where it needs to be—in front of your customers.
If you have taken a stab at local content marketing but have yet to see results, or are stuck with a provider that has yet to get you some valuable local content, we would love to help you out. We’re currently offering a free SEO audit so that you can understand what’s working well on your site, and where you could use a little extra love. You can request your free audit and learn more about how our content marketing serves as a stellar SEO solution by clicking the button below.