Optimizing your Dealership’s Online Presence with Google

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION CONCEPT

Fact: today’s car shoppers do most of their research online before even stepping foot in a dealership. So the older generation can complain about “those darn millennials being on their smartphones” all they like, but those smartphones are influencing their purchasing decisions. According to Google, the average car shopper visits two dealership websites when researching a new vehicle. That’s why it’s now more important than ever to be highly visible on Google in the competitive and complex car industry.  Many dealerships are multi-faceted, offering new and used cars as well as maintenance and repairs. It then only makes sense that their digital marketing strategy should equally be as dynamic—starting with an optimized online presence.  And, without further adieu *drumroll*, here’s a few tips to optimize your dealership’s online presence.

Google My Business

GMB has a direct correlation to local SEO—so you better make sure it’s correct and updated.  Ensure the name, phone number, and address are consistent across all online directories.

Choose accurate categories that describe what your dealership offers.  The category helps connect the potential customer with what they’re looking for.  Be specific, but don’t go overboard. If the category you want is not available choose a general one that’s still accurate, i.e. car dealer, or used car dealer.

Changing categories may improve your visibility or ranking, but keep in mind that when you edit your categories you may be asked by Google to verify your business again.

Some other aspects of GMB that you may want to consider include:

Photos

Using photos on GMB can help rank businesses in local search.  But only if you update them frequently. If a customer sees a photo of current new and used vehicles available on the lot, they expect them to be (hold on to your hats) available on the lot.  After a featured vehicle is sold, be sure to remove it from the photos.

Videos

Google recently introduced 30 second videos to display on GMB.  This is a great way to show off the strengths and uniqueness of your dealership, and maybe even have a little bit of fun.

Reviews

Many potential customers read the reviews before they decide on a dealership for their vehicle purchase. Ask happy customers to leave reviews and be sure to respond to all reviews, whether positive or negative, in a timely manner. Treat all the negative reviews seriously, even if they aren’t, and make sure you do everything to avoid unnecessary negative reviews like, oh I don’t know, a customer who was upset that there were still photos of a car online they wanted that had already been sold.

Q & A’s

This feature has been available for a while now, yet many businesses don’t utilize it properly (or at all). Like many features on GMB, anyone can make edits. Be sure to check for timely responses and correct information.

Close up of an LCD screen showing the main Google search page, while searching for the ""Key to Success"" expression.

Online Directories

Automotive Directories are a great place to improve a dealership’s ranking and backlink profile.  Many of these directories are listed on the first page of a Google search results page, so you’ll want to be listed on as many as possible. Some directories are paid, many are free, yet all will provide benefits. Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all directories (twice in one blog? Gee, it’s almost like we’re trying to tell you something important).

Select Long-tail Keywords

Relevance is key, and there is no better way to stay relevant than by answering the questions your customers ask (at least in Google’s eyes). You want to select keywords that your potential clients would actually use when searching their next car purchase—keeping in mind many search queries now come in the form of questions. Long-tailed keywords have a better chance of ranking higher than short-tailed and generic keywords, and adding in further keywords like MSRP and list price can help as well. Modern consumers have more information available than ever, making them more informed. Therefore, you’re more likely to see search queries along the lines of “2018 Volkswagen Touareg features” or “2018 Volkswagen Touareg price” rather than “Touareg” or “VW cars”. Google is sort of like your inquisitive five-year old niece—they love when you answer their questions, not when you redirect them or feed them nonsense.

Optimize Images

According to Google, the search term ‘picture of (auto brand)’ is up 37% year over year.  This means when uploading picture to your site you’ll want to include ‘pictures of’ and the make and model when naming the picture. Name the image file “picture-of-ford-mustang-2018-awd-front-seat-interior.png” and use the alt tag “Pictures of Ford Mustang 2018 AWD Front Seat Interior for Sale in Calgary”. We are well past the initial days of the internet, and people know what they’re doing. Remember that inquisitive five-year old niece Well, she’s grown up with Google and she doesn’t rely on you like she used to. She knows how to find the answers to her questions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be the one to answer those questions.

Optimize Local Connections

Dealership should make a connection somewhere on their site that relates to what’s going on in their local community.  For example, on the About Us page you may want to include links to community specific events.  Are you a sponsor to a local charity? A local softball team? Do you have an intrepid, entrepreneurial five-year old niece selling lemonade on the lot every second Sunday?  Share pictures and include how and what you’re doing to be a part of the community.  All this info helps beef up local SEO when using the city’s name but also creates a positive image for the dealership.

Be sure to ask your Strathcom Media Online Marketing Manager about the different ways to optimize your website and stand out from your competitors. You can also check out a prior blog, here, regarding our Content Marketing and Local SEO packages that cover a great deal of the points above.

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