How to Know If You Are Getting Something for Your Dealership SEO Investment
It may be evident that investing in SEO is a necessity for your dealership. You may know you need an optimized website suited for mobile, and you may know that it should be supplemented with digital ads and additional content creation to enhance digital visibility. But do you know if you’re actually getting something for your SEO investment?
Many aren’t sure how to answer that question. It’s no surprise considering there isn’t one correct way to measure SEO strategy success. It’s going to vary from industry to industry and dealership to dealership. In fact, it can even vary from one webpage to another.
How to Measure Digital Marketing Success
For example, when bidding for keywords in search ads, you would expect there to be a specific cost-per-click (CPC). You are spending a specific amount of money on that, and you’ll want to know how much you are paying for one customer click or lead through that advertisement. When it comes to content marketing, however, the deliverables are different. Because website content works organically, you may not be able to rely on that specific CPC, and moreover, the desired results may take weeks or months to appear. The benefit, however, is that these results will last over the long term rather than fade away after the short term.
[Read more: The Importance of a Multi-Faceted SEO Strategy]
Either way, the bottom line is you want to sell more cars, and although there is much more that goes into selling vehicles than just your digital strategy, you at least want to see that new potential customers are viewing your website inventory or getting in contact with you based on something they saw on the website.
What Makes a Blog Successful?
Though landing pages focused on your inventory or sales are important parts of the digital strategy, the SEO of your website from a content marketing perspective really begins with a successful blog. The content posted to this blog may not be as sales-focused as other web pages, but it plays a critical role in gaining and maintaining SEO success long-term.
Because blogs are so versatile, many types of content can be created for them. Generally speaking, however, the primary goals behind your website blog are to generate a consistent traffic flow and build brand awareness, helping to increase your domain authority over time (in other words, your standing in the eyes of Google).
Though a basic metric, consistent traffic to your blog, is a good indicator that the blog is doing its job. Because of the topics covered in your blog, many of the pageviews will be from areas across the country, and that is fine for this form of content marketing. Even when a blog post is targeted to your local audience and gets significant local traffic, such as on posts highlighting community events or dealership sponsorships, significant traffic coming through that blog post is still a sign of success. Again, the purpose behind your blog isn’t necessarily to sell a vehicle—it’s to generate a healthy flow of consistent traffic for building your domain authority and increasing brand awareness, so getting this content visible and clicked on both nationally and locally is your focus.
What Makes a Landing Page Successful?
Since your website blog is focused on building your domain authority and brand awareness, your custom landing pages can focus on attracting current car buyers to the site and guiding them along the buying process. This content should still be locally targeted, but you’ll be less concerned about how much traffic is coming through these pages and more concerned about the quality of that traffic.
When users land on this page, are they leaving the website or are they clicking to view the inventory? If we want users to fill out a contact form on this page, are they doing so? Is this page attracting new website visitors through organic search or are these returning users continually coming back to this page?
These are all questions worth asking when determining if your custom landing page content is successful, and some of these questions may be more important than others based on the page. For example, research-based landing pages are key aspects of our clients’ content strategy. This helps keep customers on the website by providing them with the information they need to complete their research on vehicles and compare models side-by-side. Because of this, overall pageviews aren’t the best way to measure overall success. Sure, you want these pages to be getting traffic, but most importantly, you want that traffic to be converting.
The term “conversion” can have many different definitions, all depending on what page you’re talking about. In some cases, it means a form completion. In other cases, it can simply mean clicking over to view the inventory. On our model research and comparison pages, for example, we include a scrolling vehicle carousel relevant to the model highlighted on that webpage. This page module allows users to see specific models in the inventory and click to view them in more detail. So, naturally, we measure the success of these pages by determining how many of the visiting users click over to view the online inventory. Since form completions are much less common than they once were across the internet, this goal of transferring potential customers from the research stage of the buying process to actually showing intent to buy a specific car is crucial to measuring our custom landing page success.
How Important Are Website Conversions?
Though much of the buying process can happen through the website, ultimately, the sale of a vehicle or service is happening at the physical dealership location. Because the digital and physical processes can become intertwined, the buying process for car dealerships can be quite fluid. This makes it difficult to pinpoint whether your SEO efforts have played a role in any one specific vehicle sale.
This doesn’t mean conversions such as contact form completions or click-to-call buttons are not important, but it does mean they aren’t always telling the whole story. Take, for example, a customer who searches for $0 down lease specials in their area via Google. They see a link to a page on your website advertising $0 down lease specials available during this month’s sales event. Rather than completing the contact form on that page, they click over to the inventory, where they view some of the models available to lease. After completing their research, they leave the website. The next day, they conducted another Google search for the dealership’s phone number and called the dealership directly through Google to ask questions and schedule a time to visit. Organic search optimization clearly played a role in obtaining that customer, but there aren’t any form completions or call tracking triggers to show for it. In a case like this, seeing that traffic is coming to the page and that the traffic is local with a low bounce rate is likely a good enough indication of that page’s success.
Assisted Conversions Through Organic Search
In addition, you may also want to analyze assisted conversions in Google Analytics. A page or channel can play multiple roles in the conversion process, from being responsible for the first interaction a user has with a website to the last interaction. Assisted conversions will show you pathways that contributed to a conversion but didn’t result in the final conversion. Since much of your SEO efforts are focused on attracting the right traffic to the site and then leading them along the buying path, whether that be to inventory or a service scheduler, this can be important to analyze in order to get a true sense of the impact content marketing and PPC are having on your SEO strategy.
What Results Should You Expect from Dealership SEO Efforts?
The results you desire from your SEO investment won’t always be there from day one. An SEO investment is just that… an “investment.” It’s not the same as spending a specific amount of money and receiving a product, such as when buying a car. A better analogy would be investing in a business, where success is measured over a longer period of time, and that’s essentially what you’re doing.
Just as with starting a new business, SEO strategies take time to develop and mature. They require a clear plan but must also remain fluid to confront potential challenges and changes in the market. When it comes to the content marketing side of your SEO strategy, it can take months to start seeing the desired ROI through organic search visibility. That domain authority we talked about isn’t built overnight.
Moreover, a successful digital strategy requires communication between your dealership and those implementing your SEO efforts. Understanding your dealership’s goals and working out the best way to accomplish those goals takes time as that relationship develops, and as those goals evolve and change new strategies must continually be worked out.
Regular Reporting Is Key
At the end of the day, having an SEO team that is accessible and provides you with regular reporting is crucial. When it comes to DealerFire websites, you’ll have a team of SEO experts working alongside you, providing regular reports to ensure your digital efforts are headed in the right direction.
Included in those reports will be an analysis of pageviews, bounce rate, and more of those basic metrics we mentioned. More importantly, you’ll be able to see how those metrics are changing over time, taking a look at how things have developed long-term. You may also get a look at how your rankings in Google have been impacted by your SEO efforts, ideally seeing your website ranking for more keywords over time and ranking for more keywords within those very top positions on the first page of the search results.
But, most importantly, you’ll be backed by a team that can tailor these regular reports to your unique dealership needs. As your goals change, we’ll adjust your SEO strategy to match. To learn more about how we can get you the SEO results you’re looking for, schedule a demo of our digital marketing products.