Approaching Your Dealership’s Site With An SEO Mindset
The internet was a vastly different place only a decade ago. Responsive websites were extremely rare, design principles were largely lacking, and boosting your site’s rankings took little more than adding a slew of keywords into the code. Even though website technology and search engine algorithms are increasingly-complex, there’s still a vestigial understanding of just how SEO works and it’s easy to fall back on outdated practices.
But what exactly were these practices? Most of the old SEO techniques were attempts to game the system, and since the algorithms were simpler, it was easier to get quick results. There was a much stronger relationship between meta keywords, heading tags, and organic positions of a website. Of course, this meant sites with thin content and a high saturation of keywords outperformed sites with quality content in many instances. Thankfully, it’s no longer enough to simply create content for search engines.
We’ve already covered why it’s important to write with a people-first mentality, and that’s just one of many tips to keep in mind here. SEO is no longer simply a set of activities you should perform; instead, it’s an entire paradigm of thought that should be exhausted in all facets of your dealership’s site and content creation.
Essentially, optimizing your site is now tied to most elements of your site and the list of known, and alleged, SEO signals is always growing. SEO needs to be holistic – you can no longer simply make a few changes to site keywords and hope for the best if the rest of your site is neglected.
Before we dive into some of the nuances of modern SEO, it’s worth noting that header tags, meta titles, meta descriptions, backlinks, and URL structures are still important elements of SEO. However, these are just a few of the many factors at play and search engines operate off principles of semantic search, meaning they’re able to gauge if these elements are consistent with the site itself.
This becomes especially relevant when it comes to data that exists in the website’s schema, which is essentially a standardized set of data search engines read. This is compared to other information about your dealership found elsewhere online – things like phone numbers and the store’s address. Simply put, search engines know where the dealership is and attempting to game the system through keywords is a deprecated process.
With that said, not all hope is lost. Many dealerships are still able to grow their organic reach and rank higher in new cities. The focus again is on SEO as a paradigm – and there are many factors to consider here. Here are a few things to focus on:
Google My Business Page
Google+ may have ultimately failed as a social network, but its business listings live on through Google My Business. You more than likely have a page set up for your dealership already, but it’s important to maintain it for accuracy of information, update photos, and encourage customer engagement. Local SEO is one of the most lucrative avenues for your dealership and your Google My Business listing will ensure you show in the “local pack” for searches – which appears above organic results. However, the amount of reviews you have, as well as your overall rating, can also give you an edge above competition. Reputation management is certainly an indirect SEO signal, but it does build trust – and, since most buyers visit fewer than two physical dealerships, you need to make a strong impression online.
Bulky images can slow down your site, and that can be fatal for the mobile experience. Most inventory providers recognize this and compress images for you – but you’ll still need to be wary of other images on the site. Slideshows can be notorious for creating issues here, and simply having too many slides can be an issue. Apart from the size of images, it’s also important that you take advantage of alt tags as search engines can’t read images. WordPress blogs also provide several other fields for images – and using strong image descriptions is a highly-overlooked strategy when it comes to bringing traffic to your site. If you’re covering a new or rare model, it’s even more important to have images optimized for search.
Ongoing Quality Content
One primary goal of SEO is to provide more entry points to your site. However, even with the benefits of semantic search, it’s still a best practice to devote a single piece of content to each query you want your dealership to rank for. As such, model overviews, trim comparisons, tech specs, and cross-brand comparisons are most effective when they’re covered on dedicated pages. It might be tempting to condense all of this information onto one page but it’s usually counterproductive in several respects: the focus keyword becomes unclear and the pages become bulky for users on mobile. It’s also worth noting that shoppers show their purchase intent depending on what they search – so being able to distinguish research-based pages from conversion-focused ones is essential as well.
Ultimately, the core of modern SEO is fairly simple: How am I adding value for visitors to my site? Sometimes the response is additive: creating content, adding meta information, and building backlinks. Other times, it’s subtractive: removing bulky images and scripts that slow your site down, gutting the duplicate content from your site, and breaking down bulky pages into smaller, keyword-focused pages.
These are fundamental principles for the team here at DealerFire. Regardless of how your site is ranking right now, there’s always room for growth. If you’re a current DealerFire partner, consider working with your website account manager to review best practices. Even if you’re using another website provider, we’d love to give you a free SEO consultation to make sure you’re getting the most out of your strategy.