Buying a car is often a big decision for customers. There are multiple touchpoints that influence their decisions. As an auto dealership, your objective will be to get your business in front of these potential car buyers. And to do this successfully, you need to be present at every touchpoint of your customer’s buying journey.
So, what is the first ‘touchpoint’ that customers use to move towards their car buying journey? It is a search engine. 95% of auto buyers use the Internet as a platform to get valuable information when they plan to purchase a car. In fact, almost twice the people research online before making a buying decision versus at a dealership.
You might have a fully air-conditioned, posh auto dealership at an upscale local market. But unless you take your business online and create a strong presence, you are nowhere. That’s where SEO for car dealers comes into the picture. Unlike advertising, search engine optimization is cost-effective and delivers effective, organic, and sustainable results.
What is Car Dealers SEO?
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your auto dealership’s online presence and website for search engines. Making your website search-friendly enables search engines to easily crawl and index it, ranking it for queries related to your business.
Higher website rankings in search engine result pages mean greater visibility. Also, auto dealerships that rank high in SERPs are considered more credible. Therefore, potential car buyers are likely to click the result and visit your website.
Car dealers SEO encompasses different on-page and off-page optimization techniques that help your website rank high in SERPs. It is also about delivering value to prospective customers and helping them make informed decisions. This makes search engine optimization a powerful tool for better conversions.
Importance of SEO for Car Dealerships
According to Google’s Consumer Insights, one consumer’s car-buying journey may include 900+ touchpoints or digital interactions. The journey is dotted with numerous micro-moments as Google outlines below:
And during all these micro-moments, auto buyers turn to the Internet to get an answer to a question or address their needs. Google also provides a graphical representation of an auto buyer’s journey, Stacy, to show how people interact on the Internet before they make a purchase.
During these digital interactions, potential car buyers will land up on an auto dealer’s website to assess, take a test drive, and eventually purchase a new car. This is where SEO for car dealerships matter because when it comes to finding an auto dealer, they are mostly going to search about it on search engines. And if your auto business does not show up in the SERPs when someone searches “car dealers near me,” you are likely to miss out on the sale to a competitor.
Top 5 SEO Best Practices for Car Dealerships
Now that you know what SEO is and why it matters to your auto dealership business, let’s discuss 5 proven practices that will help your website rank for related searches.
1. Make Your Website Design & Structure SEO-Friendly
Having a flashy and eye-catchy auto dealership website is not enough. It is crucial to make your SEO friendly. This means optimizing specific elements of your website in a way that enables search engines to crawl and index your site easily. It also means providing a seamless user experience on your website – which is an important ranking factor too.
Here are some key elements of optimizing your website design in line with SEO for automobiles:
- Create a mobile-friendly design – Since a majority of prospective car buyers conduct their research on mobile devices, it makes sense to build a mobile-friendly design. Also, the Google search engine algorithm now indexes the mobile version of a website rather than its desktop version. So, it is important to create a responsive design that delivers the same look, feel, and user experience on mobile devices as on the desktop.
- Improve your website speed – Website speed is an important factor influencing your website rankings in organic search results. Google’s algorithm update in 2018 clearly outlines that website speed is now a ranking factor. Therefore, building a fast-loading website can be a smart move to boost your search engine rankings as well as provide an improved user experience.
- Include meta data – Meta data are HTML tags that signal search engine bots what a page is all about. This simplifies the process of indexing the page and increasing the likelihood of ranking it for relevant search queries. Meta data that you must include in your website are title tags, meta descriptions, H1 H2 tags, and image alt text. An example of a title tag and meta description is given below:
2. Optimize Your Google Business Profile (GBP)
It is important to understand that SEO for car dealerships is not limited to your website. And one of the best ways to grab eyeballs off the website is through your Google Business Profile. Standing in 2023, GBP is a vital marketing tool because it gives your auto dealership business a preferential position in SERPs.
This means whenever someone searches for an auto dealer or a new car, your Google Business Profile will appear above any or all other organic results.
Here are some quick tips to optimize your Google Business Profile:
- Make sure your profile is complete and relevant to your auto dealership business
- Include real videos and images of your business
- Verify the locations you serve
- Do not forget to include keywords in your Google Business Profile
- Encourage questions and reviews and answer them
- Keep all your business information accurate and up to date
- Include special attributes if any
3. Use the Right Keywords
When it comes to choosing the right keywords for car dealers SEO, it is important to be specific. Typically, you can target three types of keywords –
- Keywords with a local intent. E.g. – “auto dealers in Houston,” “auto dealers near me”
- Keywords that focus on user intent. E.g. – “where to buy Hyundai IONIQ 6”
- Keywords with commonality. E.g. – “Hyundai squeaks and rattles diagnosis”
Using a good keyword planner tool can help you find the right keywords for your auto dealership business.
4. Incorporate Video Content
Needless to say, content is one of the key elements of SEO for automobile. The quality, relevance, and depth of your content determines how much value it adds to the readers. And that’s what Google takes into consideration when ranking your website.
However, when it comes to SEO for car dealers, content works little differently for prospective auto buyers. Since the product here is a ‘car,’ customers look for dynamic content such as videos. Therefore, focus on video SEO to attract eyeballs, engage your audiences, and drive more conversions.
Use YouTube as an effective SEO tool, which is the best way to showcase new makes & models, help the customers with a problem, provide tips, and much more. Videos act as a visual trigger and are likely to attract more customers.
5. Claim & Optimize Your Local Listings
The local listing of your auto dealership is an online mention of your business name, phone number, address, business hours, website, and other basic information. Your local listing, when optimized efficiently, will come up in search results when someone searches “Hyundai dealership Houston” for instance. And not just search results, but local listings will also appear on your Facebook page or other third-party websites where your business information is listed.
Below is an example of local listing or local citation, and how it appears in SERPs:
Local listings attract attention of potential car buyers, get more clicks, and conversions.
Here are some tips to optimize local citations of your auto dealership business:
- Make sure the information in your local listing is up to date and accurate
- The business information should be consistent across all your listings
- Complete your local citations with additional information such as images, etc.
- Focus on reviews and respond to them
Frequently Asked Questions
SEO is important because it help establish a strong search engine authority, boost your website rankings, and build your online presence. An effective SEO strategy helps drive increased traffic, qualified organic leads, and more sales.
The time that automotive SEO services will take to deliver results vary based on various factors. These are keyword competitiveness, your present website structure & ranking, market competition, number of websites or keywords to be optimized, etc. Typically, it takes around 4-6 months to start seeing visible results. Though SEO takes time, the results are sustainable.
The cost of SEO for car dealers depends on various factors – the expertise of the SEO agency, how difficult it is to rank for the target keywords, number of locations you serve, number of web pages you want to rank for, link building strategies, and much more. However, SEO cost for auto dealers typically start from $400 monthly.