A little off subject for what I do but I thought I would offer some SEO 101 for car dealers. Take it from someone who see’s 20+ dealer sites on a daily basis. I will cover things most dealers miss, what dealer’s do that actually hurts them, and why they aren’t doing what’s important. You can also pick up some really cool tools that I use that can save you some time and money, maybe even your job.
I have found that in any vendor business where you are selling to dealerships, TRAINING is vital to making sure the dealer is successful with your product (Cars.com gets it). So how come I haven’t heard of website providers offering free training to their clients on the do’s and don’ts of SEO. My belief is that they are not staffed for it or don’t feel it would help. Let’s face it…you probably don’t have hours a day to invest in SEO practices nor are you educated enough to do it.
Here is what you need to provide intelligent SEO services for your dealership. You need to know basic HTML code or a CMS that will do it for you, you need basic SEO knowledge, and Last but not least you need time to do it and maintain it. You are not an SEO expert because you follow google on twitter or because you read a blog from some guy called “SEO GURU” and shares all his tips with you.
This blog could help your search ranking and help protect your job from the super savvy SEO/Internet Director. Don’t count on your site provider to tell you or even wait for that “SEO/Internet Director” to point out all the things you are doing wrong with your site and ask for your job. Be proactive and put your site to the test. Again….these are basic but extremely important things I see missed every day.
What keywords are you using and are you spread thin? When doing research for keywords keep conversion rate in mind. You want the traffic that hits your site to be relevant and to convert at the highest possible percentage. There are a few tools to help with this: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
this tool is offered for keyword research for adword campaigns but is great for organic keyword research as well. Since everything is going local now they have made a recent change to show you local vs. global. There is a setting on the right hand site of the results you want to play with that a little (Broad, Exact, etc…). Do a search for “used cars” wait a minute don’t get too excited!!! You are not going to land on page 1 of “used cars” and get 16,600,000 hits to your site every month. Find niche keywords like “used cars in my area” has 9,900 searches. Look at “used cars Atlanta” local search is key unless you are shipping cars nationally. Search it and compare your site to those ranking well. See if you think you will be able to rank for that keyword or keywords. I am going to keep this basic so moving forward assuming you have picked your keywords. keep in mind it does matter if you use an "s" or "GA" on the end of words.
Dealerships don’t have a set of a few keywords they want to dominate for. They use millions of them and don’t rank great for any of them except for their own dealer name.
What To Do With Keywords:
Ok so here is where I tell you to stick it. You will need to (in moderation) drop your keywords in your title tags, meta keywords, meta descriptions, content, and listen dealers even your alt tags for photos. That’s a biggie because I see soooo many dealers with images on their site and you hover over them and it says cropped_image_12797 or car_image_78897. That won’t help you!!! Those tags are there for a reason. I actually did a test and images without alt tags will drop you in local search and organic search in google. Ryan, why so much about google? Well 70% of searches come from google so I suggest you optimize that way. Oh, and yes local is offered by relevance to your searchers. You can dominate local searches for many different cities as a car dealership if you know what you are doing. Oh, almost forgot…do a google search for “home” and tell me where your dealership ranks. Lol it doesn’t rank on the first page I promise you that but majority of sites will rank in some form or fashion because that is the home page name. "Home" should be a place holder not the name of your "home" page. So drop your keywords in your page names if it makes since. Don't go crazy with this..people need to know it's your home page. Have your URL read clean (example: www.contactatonce.com/chat). A lot of times you will see www.contactatonce.com/chat?#huo#iha or something crazy. That won’t help you. Google has stated that is NOT good (Source @mattcutts). Eliminate symbols in your URL’s. Before Contact At Once went to Wordpress we had the same issue with the URL’s. WAIT!!! Before you go changing your URL’s keep in mind you may have positive deep links and inner links you will have to take care of. Do that first!
uummm here is where I laugh most the time with dealers. Dealers will offer 1000 title tag words trying to keyword stuff. Let me help you here. You are diluting your good keywords and probably are not ranking as well as you should. This is the case with probably 95% of all the dealer websites I see.
Keywords In Text:
Offer keywords you want to rank well for in your text. Keep in mind that Google’s Algorithm measures keyword density and if you do like most dealers at the bottom of your page you will see something like a content section or a small scroll bar with text reading like…..
Serving: car dealer atlanta, used cars Atlanta, car dealer Alpharetta, used trucks, used trucks Duluth, norcross, roswell, macon, lawrenceville, suwanee, Buford, Georgia.
That’s the short version but what is that? Make it read well!!! Choose a few really good keywords and go after them. Don’t dilute your entire site with keywords.
However lovely you may think they are….they are NOT!! Why? Glad you asked….#1 reason is I have found that not everyone is running a 10 meg connection at their house or workplace like I do. Flash takes time to load and sometimes doesn’t. The majority of mobile devices can’t process flash as of right now. Search engines cannot crawl video yet. I did hear Adobe and google are working on it. So your option is to add keywords behind the video. NOT a good idea. Google is pretty clear when it comes to hiding text. Have you heard how hard it is to get back into google once you have been blacklisted? If done in moderation you should be fine but hiding keywords behind flash is not recommended. You probably want to treat this like alt tags. Effective but don't use to many keywords. Name it and move on.
Ahh links… the baby that fuels google search. OK so you may have never thought about this but you and I are the brains behind how sites rank. Follow me here….let’s say your dealer site is a page rank 5. That’s pretty good. You link to my site Contact At Once. Google sees that link and the text reading “dealer chat
” and says hhhmmm this dealer says “this is a good link for dealer chat” and begin ranking your site better for “dealer chat”
. So why do you need to know this? You need what we call “back links.” These are links back to your dealership website. Wanna know who is linking to you now? Check out webmaster tools for google for the most detailed info. They will give you where the link is coming from, what the anchor text is, and how many links you have.
You may want to check your competitor’s sites here Link Popularity Check - http://www.marketleap.com/publinkpop/
It isn’t such a bad thing for navigation and for search crawlers to have inner links with great anchor words. For instance, We sell “new cars”... link to your new cars page.
ask your competitors back links to link to you as well if they are not a spammy type of a site.
be careful here don’t link from anywhere you don’t want people finding when they search you.
I am starting to see more blogs on dealer site. These are great for many reasons….keywords, google loves them, and well you can get your message out. Keep it real and know that all above applies here.
Remember text is king!!!
Here are a few people I have followed over the last few years to help you on your journey to actually becoming a “SEO Guru.”
(Works for google…gives great inside info)
(one of the market leaders in staying ahead of search)
(they are great for getting all info from many different sources)
(another great site that puts out a lot of great articles)
(offers these wonderful graphs like you see below)