Search Engine Optimization for car dealers, aka SEO, is essential for setting apart your dealership from others in your area. SEO will help your customers find you via search engines, like Google. By building your online profile, your potential customers will be able to find you. The vehicle purchasing market is unique since the sales almost always take place offline. Yet an online presence for car dealers will be incredibly important. A March 2010 study by Forrester found that by 2014, 53% of total (online and offline) retail sales will be researched on the Internet before being purchased. By understanding how SEO will affect your Web site, you can promote your business and ensure clients are coming into your lot.
SEO Tips and Strategies
According to a 2011 study by Kelton Research/Bazaarvoice, 40% of consumers said they would never buy or lease a car without reading at least one piece of user-generated content. Answer this request by asking your buyers to write reviews on your Web site, both of the vehicle they purchased and your business. Encourage them to head to Yelp.com, among other review websites, to talk about their experiences with your business. Not only will you be contributing to the conversation about the products you sell, but you’ll also be promoting your dealership as the place to buy a vehicle.
Research is demonstrating that marketing budgets are starting to shift away from outbound marketing, and toward inbound marketing tactics, like social media, virtual events and SEO. For example, a recent study by Hubspot found that Internet users spend three times more minutes on blogs and social networks than on email. So to reach potential customers, make sure you’re using SEO to get your Web site recognized.
- Choose your words wisely. Every word on your Web site should be there for a reason. Make sure that you’re using keywords that relate directly to your car dealership and cars on your lot, so that your pages are picked up by search engines. But be careful: you don’t want your content to sound like it’s there purely for the search engine. Your writing, from the headline, to subheadline, to the article itself all should be compelling and valuable to your intended customer.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. While things like keywords and text content are incredibly important for SEO, pictures are too. Specifically for car dealers, pictures of the vehicles you are selling will transform your Web site. The Web site will become more visually pleasing, but there’s another purpose for adding pictures. Search engines will read the file name of the pictures you post on your Web site, which will live in the site’s HTML code. So, be sure to name your picture files what they are, for example, “red 2013 prius.” Additionally, create an alt tag for each photo, which is a short piece of code that allows you to tag each photo with a short text caption. Search engines will also pick these up.
- Linkbuilding. This is the practice of working with other Web sites to link back to you; each link will enhance your Web site’s ability to be found in a search engine. Not any link will do, since each Web site carries a different weight. For example, if the New York Times linked to one of your blogs, that will carry much more weight in the search engine’s eyes than a link from your friend’s blog. This portion of SEO will take some time, as you’ll have to develop great, authoritative writing and/or networking outside of the Internet. Beware link farms and low quality business directories that can actually penalize your site. It is not quantity, but quality that matters.
- Hire the best SEO company. If you’re serious about strengthening your SEO, it’s beneficial to hire a company well-versed in SEO practices. Choose a firm that knows the right and wrong way to conduct SEO, and exhibits professional responsibility and conduct. Remember that you will get what you pay for: it’s worth it to choose a company that will help your Web site in an ethical way.