SEO for Auto Dealers: 2018 Quick Reference Guide

Posted by Nick Shotts

Like thousands of other car dealership marketing directors, BDC managers, and GMs, you’re looking to get your site to the top of Google. We’ve written our SEO for Auto Dealers: 2018 Quick Reference Guide for those self-starters that want to make effective changes to their SEO performance. The following can be used to help you improve the SEO performance of your dealership website. Whether you follow all of it or you pick and choose, you’re bound to find something useful.

SEO for Auto Dealers: The Do’s

Connect Your Site to Google Search Console

If you’re going to make a real effort to improve your dealership website’s SEO, you need to connect your website to Google Search Console. Google Search Console provides valuable data about your search appearance, search traffic, indexing, and crawl and security issues.

To get started, visit Google Search Console and sign into your Google account. Look for the “ADD A PROPERTY” button to add your dealership’s website.

Google Search Console Add a Property
Add a Property to Google Search Console

After you’ve added your property to Google Search Console, you’ll need to verify it. You can verify ownership through your domain name provider, or by using one of Google’s alternative methods. You can verify your ownership by uploading and accessing a file on your site, adding a meta tag to your home page, or by using your Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager accounts. Lastly, you need to upload your website’s XML sitemap. If you need help finding your sitemap, contact your website provider.

Google Search Console is a very powerful tool that allows you to your monitor your search position, clicks, queries, impressions, appearance, and loads more. Get connected and start digging around.

Optimize Your Headings

If you have access to the content on your website – which I sure hope you do – you should optimize your headings right now. The headings on your website are your h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6 HTML elements. Even in 2018, SEO for auto dealers is still largely dependent on optimized, on-page signals. Depending on your web provider, you might not be able to control much else. You should optimize your headings to include important, relevant keywords that searchers might be looking for. Check out our post on choosing good keywords to learn how to choose successful keywords for your content.

Note: Because SEO for auto dealers is local, try to include local signals in your headings when you can. Local signals appropriate for headings might include your city, state, or your metropolitan area. You can use MozBar for free to easily monitor your dealership website’s headings.

Optimize Your Meta Titles and Descriptions

Your website’s meta titles and descriptions play a big part of how your dealership is indexed and how your dealership performs on Google search results pages. Your meta titles and descriptions need to be explicitly defined for every page on your website. For things like your inventory, this is probably done automatically. You should naturally include your target keyword in the title and description of each page on your site. Because local search engine optimization is important for car dealerships, try to include your city and state in your meta titles and descriptions.

  • Meta Title: The meta title of your webpage gives the search engine a brief title of your page. On search engines, the title is typically located above your meta description.
  • Meta Description: The meta description of your webpage is used to quickly describe the page and entice searchers to click on your search listing.
SEO for Auto Dealers: Meta Titles and Descriptions
Car Dealership Meta Titles and Descriptions

Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP)

SEO for auto dealers is heavily dependent on local SEO signals. Posting your name, address, and local phone numbers on every single page of your dealership website can greatly improve your local SEO. Please note the emboldened ‘local’ in ‘local phone numbers.’ Dealerships often use non-local tracking numbers on their website to track the quantity of calls coming from their website. Data is great, but being found is even better. Try to combat the urge to use tracking numbers on your website unless it’s absolutely necessary and post your real, local phone number. This will provide a boost to your SEO.

Note: These are typically posted in the header and footer of your website. You need to make sure they are present and consistent on all pages of your website.

Maintain Consistent Citations

Maintaining consistent citations is an important part of car dealership SEO and local SEO in general. A citation is an online reference to your dealership that usually includes your dealership name, address, and phone number. Common dealership citation sites include Google, Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare, Hotfrog, and more. You need to make sure that all of your dealership citations are consistent. That includes using “Rd.” versus “Road” in your address. Everything needs to be identical.

You can use Moz Local for free to check your current dealership citations. Citations play a major role in successful SEO for auto dealers.

Moz Local Search Citations Graph Sample
Sample Citation Analysis from Moz Local

Understand the Searcher’s Intent

Building quality content for your searchers is the most important thing you can do to optimize your website for search engines. In the past, keyword stuffing and manipulating on-page signals and links could make you rank for just about anything you wanted. In this day and age, search engine algorithms use your website’s performance metrics to determine whether or not you addressed or solved the searcher’s problems.

To create successful content in 2018, you need to understand your searcher’s intent and design your pages to address it. For example, don’t just write a page about oil changes and stick it on your website. Research what is most important to someone searching for oil changes (their intent) and write content that addresses and solves it. Do they want to know how to perform their own oil change? Are they trying to find out the difference between oil types? Do they want to know what an oil change costs? Are they looking for oil change coupons? All of these intents require very different content and need to be considered when you’re creating web content. Quality is key.

SEO for Auto Dealers: The Don’ts

Don’t Use Duplicate Copy

Duplicate copy will negatively impact your search rankings. As a unique business, you need to provide unique content. By using the same copy that other dealerships are using (common on many dealership website providers), search engines have difficulty determining which dealership is most relevant. Search engines don’t want to display multiple instances of the same content on their search results pages. As a result, websites with unique content (like ours) often dominate websites with duplicate content in search.

If you’re using an “SEO” provider that posts content to your website on behalf of your dealership, you need to make sure that they are writing content that is unique to your dealership. We have seen providers charge hundreds of dollars for a blog post that they post to dozens of different dealership websites. In the car dealership industry, this is more common than not.

Note: You can use sites like Copyscape to check if your website features duplicate content. Keep in mind that free users will only be able to see 10 results with duplicate content, but if you’re with one of the more popular dealership website providers, you’ve probably got hundreds or thousands of duplicate sites.

Don’t Keyword Stuff

Search engines aren’t stupid. As previously mentioned, you need to create content that solves or addresses the searcher’s intent. Stuffing a page full of unnatural-sounding keywords creates a bad user experience, and search engines don’t want that. If you’re in charge of your dealer’s SEO, look through your content and make sure that your pages and blogs are reading naturally – seriously. Keyword stuffing can actually cause your site to be penalized.

Tip: Instead of stuffing your content full of keywords, create a content piece that is thorough and covers all of the topics that your searcher is looking to find. If you’re doing a good job, you’ll naturally cover most of the things that your searcher might be looking for.

Now Get To It!

Hopefully we’ve given you some actionable information on how you can improve your dealership’s SEO. It’s time for you to get out there and do it! If you’re not up to it, or if your website platform won’t allow you, or if you want professionals to manage your dealership SEO, contact us. You’ll get a dedicated team of SEO professionals that will setup your new site, identify opportunities, and make the necessary changes to optimize your site.

Don’t Forget!

If you’re adept at Google Analytics and setup your site with Google Search Console, take a look at the metrics for some of your most important pages. How are they performing in organic search? How are they performing locally? If you notice any of your pages with less than average performance, check ’em, tweak ’em, and check ’em again later. If all else fails, we’re here.