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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 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 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 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?

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

Semantic Markup
If you currently support 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...

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 8:46am

No, I think there is... but, if you're publishing content according to a smart strategy, Googlebot, etc. isn't going to deem your sites as web spam-generators. There is a BIG if, there... :-)

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 6:50am

@Ralph with "the best dealerships will have multiple websites, micro sites, campaign pages, etc." I couldn't agree more with that statement.  

I've no idea where you're coming from Manny. A dealerships needs to have as many hooks in the water, as possible. There is no such thing as spamming the search engines, if the proper publishing execution is to be had. One of the reasons we are developing our own LotLinx platform / marketplace, but with a much stronger indexing factor.

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 28, 2014 at 6:43am

Sorry Ben, ancient news, been doing this for a number of websites for some time and you should be doing it for MANY reasons, not just Googlebot absorption.

I disagree with Tim and Manny on this subject. You should have all of your inventory under the 'product' taxonomy.

Funny, before this article was ever published and something I had been discussing with Ralph, see:

Comment by Alexander Lau on July 17, 2014 at 1:43pmDelete Comment

You forgot to mention Rich Pins @ However, you had better understand how Structured Data ( and Rich Snippets work. and, which we have on all of our websites and it helps them rank ahead of competitors.

How can I get Rich Pins?
Right now, there are five types of Rich Pins: movie, recipe, article, product and place. To get started, you'll need to prep your website with meta tags, test out your Rich Pins and apply to get them on Pinterest. If you're not technical, you might want to ask your developer or site owner to help get you going!

Product Rich Pins
For products we support two collection methods: oEmbed and semantic markup ( and Open Graph).

Which method is best for you?

If you have technical capabilities to set up an oEmbed endpoint — this is the preferred and most flexible method.

Semantic Markup
If you currently support 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.

Comment by Timothy Martell on July 25, 2014 at 7:39pm

This is absolutely a website provider's responsibility. Frankly, suggesting that a dealer implement this is extremely dangerous. Because dealer websites are NOT e-commerce sites, implementing schema mark-up on inventory pages could actually cause a penalty. 

Not the kind of thing a dealer should be playing around with on their own, especially considering the lack of context this article provides. 

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