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How Your Dealership Can Use Schema.Org Markup to Stay Ahead of the SEO Curve


Ben Brockhaus-Hall, Cobalt SEO Specialist
by Ben Brockhaus-Hall, Cobalt SEO Specialist

More and more businesses are incorporating SEO into their marketing budgets every day and car dealerships are a big part of this emerging trend. In this new world where people Google everything before they buy, it is more important than ever to adapt with new strategies that set your dealership apart from the competition.

The million dollar question is: how do you do this?

There are only so many mentions of your brand and hometown you can put on your website. There are only so many backlinks you can get to your site. Let’s face it, Google and Bing have gotten smarter and continue to do so.

To everyone’s surprise, Google overhauled their entire algorithm for ranking websites this past September with Hummingbird. The gist of Hummingbird is that it is focused on semantic search. In other words, the goal is to provide users with high quality content specific to the intent of their search.

How to Keep Your Dealership Ahead of the Competition

As we adapt to the changes, one of the best ways to address this algorithm change is by adding structured data to your website. In March, I wrote about the Knowledge Graph and how to beef that up for your brand. But when it comes to structured data, the Knowledge Graph is just the tip of the iceberg.

So what exactly is structured data? Structured data is a way of marking up a website to tell search engines such as Google and Bing more accurately what your website is about and what to list you for in search results.

For example, if you are a coffee shop selling coffee directly to customers, it is unlikely that you are going to rank for just “coffee.” Typing in coffee would pull up results on what coffee is as a commodity.

Search engines want to know if you are a coffee shop, a coffee review site, a coffee roaster, or a wiki site about coffee so they can please customers by showing them exactly what they are looking for. Structured data is a way to tell Google exactly what your website is all about and what you offer to your customers.

By implementing structured data on your website, you can greatly improve how your business shows up in search engine results pages (SERPs). In short, it is a huge part of the present and will be an even bigger part of the future of Internet search. The most important form of structured data that is widely recognized by the top search engines is Schema.org markup data. Essentially, Schemais a series of markup tags that can be incorporated into your website’s code to improve Google’s ability to extract what the content of your page or website is about.

Why should you care about Schema? For starters, it will allow Google to create “rich snippets” under your search results, which are designed to give users a better idea of what is on the page. Examples of rich snippets include review stars, videos, images, and more.

Schema can potentially help you rank for important keywords. According to a recent study bySearchmetrics, less than one percent of websites have implemented Schema markup on their website, yet pages that are marked up rank on average four positions higher than pages without Schema markup.

A good example of a site that uses Schema well is allrecipes.com. When performing a simple search for a spaghetti recipe (as you can see in the image below) the top result is all recipes, with reviews, cooking time, calories and even a thumbnail picture.

In the past, all you would see was the title and description. Now, all of these important details are the result of marking up the webpage with Schema and structured data.

While not as many rich snippets are yet showing up for automobile dealers, it’s likely they will in the future. But as it stands now, you can see in the example below that review stars and a video capture are showing up in the SERPs.

All of this means that the responsibilities of your Search Engine Specialist have changed. The goal has become not just to rank “1st” for important keywords, but now it is to dominate the SERPs by taking up as much space and showing as much information about your site as possible. Searchers are a lot more likely to click-through a search listing with rich snippets than a basic search listing, despite how far down or up the SERP it is.

By adding Schema.org markup to your website, you are not only telling the search engines what your business and site are about, but you are also increasing the likelihood of Google showing rich snippets, allowing you to dominate the SERPs, which increases your credibility as a reliable website, and your chances of ranking higher on Google. You will set yourself apart from the competition by providing your customers with highly relevant information and increasing the chance of a click-through.

Structured data is the present and future of search.

Staying ahead of the curve and being an early adopter of new strategies will allow you to gain a competitive edge in a world where most customers research everything they buy on the Internet before purchase. Not only does it give you a chance at ranking higher for important keywords and taking up more real estate on the SERPs, but there is a good chance your competition is not doing it. The time to markup your site with Schema is now. Talk to your SEO expert today!

About the Author

Ben Brockhaus-Hall, Search Engine Optimization Specialist Ben Brockhaus-Hall is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist with Cobalt. In the past, he has worked as a marketing copywriter and journalist. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling the world, cooking, gardening, discovering new music, playing basketball and paying entirely too much attention to sports in general. His first car was a 2001 Toyota Corolla. Currently, his Honda is on its last legs and he's looking at all options for his next car. Electric perhaps?

Views: 323

Tags: Automotive, Dealership, Engines, Marketing, SEO, Schema, Search

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Comment by Ben Brockhaus-Hall on August 4, 2014 at 3:35pm

Hey Tim, thanks for the comment. I completely agree, it can be difficult to markup your site. As suggested in the article, it’s always best to consult an SEO specialist if a dealer is interested in marking up their site. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 11:25am

You can fool robots. LOL! Let's face it Manny, there is a HUGE portion of SEO that is gray hat. 

Comment by Manny Luna on July 28, 2014 at 11:13am

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 10:37am

Agreed, the more you can tell Google about your products, the better off you are and that's nothing to do with spam.

Comment by Manny Luna on July 28, 2014 at 10:01am

Alexander Lau Your're one of the best!

Gotta jet back to work.

Have a great close out!

Comment by Manny Luna on July 28, 2014 at 9:58am

You and I know Google is not going to tell us how to dominate the search engines organically:)

It's important to keep up with them and like them, but we never jump on their bandwagon.

Heck, if they had their way, you wouldn't be able to add keywords to your sites:)

Nothing will ever replace real quality human content and real humans sharing it. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 9:27am

BTW, if Google is essentially telling you to do it, do it. I've not applied this client's products / inventory, but I will.

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 9:18am

I'll not argue with that method, Manny Luna! :-) Frequency and consistency, really do matter.

Comment by Manny Luna on July 28, 2014 at 9:08am

Bingo Alexander Lau  "publishing content according to a smart strategy"

I was talking in terms of automated software some website providers are going around pitching to dealers. All they're doing is spamming the search engines and hurting the themselves. 

  "Slow and steady really does win the race"

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 8:48am

Semantic Markup
If you currently support Schema.org or Open Graph metatags, or if you can't set up an oEmbed endpoint but can easily modify your product page templates to include price and availability metatags.

If your 3rd party inventory feed source is smart enough to apply dynamic data to the markup, you're much better off, and actually it might take care of the latency factor, in terms of pages that sit live, but should be taken off site. Just a thought...

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