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There have been countless posts here and on other automotive sites about how to best rank for different keyword terms with the search engines. If you're like most other professionals, this can be difficult because you may not have the time to handle your own SEO, you may not have the technical background, or you may not feel like you have any content to provide in order to rank.

I'm here with a few tips on how to success with your SEO efforts and drive more leads from the web.

  1. Don't Hire an Agency: Most of you have probably been contacted a hundred times by online marketing agencies large and small trying to sell you monthly SEO packages that promise to increase your rankings. For those of you unlucky enough to have spent money, you probably found the results lacking. For those of you who passed on the "opportunity", you probably always wonder "what if"? The reality is that agencies, and especially SEO agencies, are expensive and they can guarantee you nothing. Unless you have $5,000+ per month to spend on link building alone, you're not going to be able to hire any agency worth their weight in gold.
  2. Do Your Own Keyword Research: Here's a dirty little secret about keyword research - it's free and it's easy. Head over to the Google Keyword Tool to get started. This next part is very important. In the left hand menu, uncheck "Broad" and check "Exact". Now start entering in keyword phrases. Google will give you the exact amount of queries for those phrases. Now, keep in mind that these are the the United States as a whole, so a keyword with 100,000 monthly visits will only get a fraction of those in your locale. To tighten this up, add in your city, state, metro, or OEM provider, e.g., "San Diego used cars".
  3. Do Hire an On-Page Expert: Most developers and programmers will tell you that they create "SEO friendly" code, but I'm here to tell you that 99% of them are making that up to try to sell their services. Developers think of things in terms of how to make a page look good in different browsers and how to debug Javascript. They most often do not have a solid background in SEO to really do anything for you. Luckily, on-page SEO is pretty darn easy. You need to focus on only a few items:
    1. Title Tags: Make sure these are unique and they focus on your keyword phrases.
    2. H1 Tags: One per page, preferably focused solely on your keyword. If you want to rank for "San Diego used cars" your code needs to say <h1>San Diego used cars</h1>. If you need to modify this, you need to update the code as appropriate, e.g., <span class="h1">The Best</span><h1>San Diego used cars</a>. This is where an hourly freelancer can help.
    3. URL Structure: If you have Wordpress or any CMS made recently, this should be easy. Instead of, you want your URL to match your keyword:
    4. Content: Be sure to write as much content about a subject as needs to be said. If someone searches "San Diego used cars" they aren't looking for a three-page essay on the history of San Diego or the internal combustion engine, but you can at least throw in 1-2 paragraphs.
  4. Increase Your Reach: Who says you can have only one listing? If you are truly dedicated, you can have your inventory and website span multiple sites to help go from a single ranking to multiple rankings. Here are a few types of sites you should get profiles on:
    1. YouTube: Add a video of your lot, do some crazy videos of you and your co-workers, put up videos of your deal of the week. Be sure to use phrases that align with what you want to rank for.
    2. Facebook: Well, duh, you already know this. Make sure to try and get a great vanity URL (you need 25 likes for this) such as /san-diego-used-cars. If that's not available, modify it with "my", "your", "best", etc.
    3. Classifieds: Your probably already use or have used Craigslist, eBayClassifieds, and others, but there are other classified sites that allow you to have an ongoing profile and ongoing inventory that will show up in search results.
    4. Google Local: You're a local business, so you should show up in Google Maps. Once again, use keyword phrases to describe your business that Google can understand. Don't write that you're a one stop automotive specialty sales shop. Write that you are the best used cars dealer in [your city] specializing in the following OEM's: [List Them Out].
  5. Take It Easy: You don't need to worry about Panda, you don't need to worry about Penguin, and even though it probably pains you to read this, you do not need to rank overnight. Working with link builders or content writers who try to manipulate the engines into ranking you too quickly will most likely backfire. Just keep your site updated, stay active with social media (even if it's commenting on the new line our from Ford or your favorite meal), and the rankings will come.

Tags: automotive, car, dealership, marketing

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