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We often discuss the various techniques surrounding search marketing, content marketing, and the various Google- and Bing- related practices that help dealers drive more traffic to their sites. One of the things that simply doesn't get discussed enough is the very basis behind strong SEO: Keyword Research.
The local area for every dealership is different. There are nuances about many areas that are only known by locals, making it challenging for a vendor in Tacoma to identify keywords in Chicago, for example. Those in the Chicago area are well-aware that the word "Chicagoland" is meaningful and used by the locals when referring to the greater metro area and as such is a very useful portion of a dealer's keyword strategy.
Someone in San Diego or Boston might not know that, just as they may not be aware that people in Irvine, CA, often search for "Orange County" or "OC" keywords. This is where communication and a proper interview with every dealership is extremely important in starting a relationship with an SEO vendor.
There are other considerations that make it unrealistic for vendors to try to apply universal formulas to keyword research. Size and search radius make a difference when deciding on keywords areas. For example, there might be a lot more people in California than there are in Massachusetts, but real buyers will be less-likely to type in "California Honda Dealers" than "Massachusetts Honda Dealers" because California is so spread out that someone in Oakland might get a dealership 7 hours away in San Diego, while in Massachusetts it's possible to cover the entire state when looking for a vehicle.
The SEO process starts with assessments and strategy. Adding the wrong content or pointing links with the wrong keywords can yield tremendous results that do nothing to increase sales. Here's an infographic that depicts basic keyword research tips. Click to enlarge.