If you’re struggling for page views and leads on your site, it is time for you to revamp your SEO, and you can start with a SEO audit. Why you ask? Well, gone are the days when you could add a new post or page to your site and expect that people will come to read it. Right now, experts estimate that there are almost 60 million new blog posts alone published each month, that is 2 million a day! And this number doesn’t even include landing pages and other published online content. That is a big sea of content and because of this, standing out has become increasingly difficult online.
This is where SEO comes in. Search engine optimization has always been important. This is probably something you knew before you started reading this post. But what you might not know is what you can do to improve your site’s SEO. That’s why you need to dive right in and do an SEO audit of your site!
For those new to SEO, the concept of search engine optimization might seem like a combination of voodoo witchcraft and sheer good luck. But you don’t need a magic wand or a four leaf clover in order to improve your SEO on your website today. In fact, there are a few easy things that you can start doing right now in order to bump up your ranking across Google and other search engines. Starting to make small changes will help to drive traffic to your website, and we have 5 easy tips to get you started on improving your SEO today.
First of All, What is SEO and Why Should You Care?
Simply put, SEO is a term used for optimizing your site and pages so they rank in a search engine. Optimization is key because search engines scroll through the content, find out what it’s about and analyze your site. Then the search engine ranks your page against your competition to give a list to a user’s search query. If you haven’t thought about SEO, the search engine won’t know what you page is about and you won’t rank.
Optimizing your content for the bots that scroll through your site, will give you the ability to be higher in the search engine. This may lead to more clicks and more traffic. It is good to know that search engines such as Google are smart. Search engines use advanced algorithms that not only search for keywords and titles of the content, but analyze it to find out what the content is about, how in-depth it is and if it would answer the user’s query they typed into the search engine. This means that SEO optimization your content has to be done properly, no black-hat tricks here!
So What Do Search Engines Look For?
SEO is not a static field, and there is no “end all be all” for what search engines look for. Algorithms that these search engines use change constantly, and so optimizing your site is something you need to be constantly aware of if you want to improve SEO.
If you asked someone how they did SEO 15 years ago, you would have gotten an answer along the lines of “put as many keywords as possible onto the page”. Easy as that was, it led to pages full of keywords and useless content. Now, content and quality are key! In order to improve your SEO, you need to improve your content and what you put onto your site.
So, How Do I Improve SEO on My Site?
SEO is still a difficult thing to master. But with the following 5 tricks, you will be on your way to optimizing your site.
1. Keywords are Key to Better SEO
You go to a search engine, type in your query and bam! In what seems like an instant, you are flooded with millions of results that are sorted to give you the best ones at the top. Can you imagine having to go through them all yourself? No? We can’t either. The top ten results aren’t there by accident either. Each result in your search is carefully configured to rank highly against whatever you typed into the search engine. One of the top reasons for high ranking are keywords, which are words or phrases that are put through your content so a search engine can figure out what the content is about. When keywords are used correctly are great for improving your SEO!
Quick way to improve SEO with Keywords: Choose 3-4 keywords and put them each 3 times in your content! Make sure they are relevant, and that they are specific. You want them to also blend nicely into the content. Choose 2 body keywords and 1 long tail keyword at least! Whatever you do, don’t make your keywords general like vehicle or SUV.
So when you think about choosing keywords in your content you should choose 3-4 keywords to use throughout. Here are some things to think about when choosing your keywords.
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords. This sounds scary, but it means that when you pick your keywords you don’t need to choose them all to be similar. Using synonyms will rank the same as using the same word. This can be good and bad for you. Good because you can rank for “improve SEO” with “better SEO”, and vice-versa, but bad because you have to be aware of how many times you are using the keyword.
Body keywords are 2-3 words long and get a good amount of searches per month. These are good for driving traffic, especially when used in your content.
Long Tail Keywords
Pick one long tail keyword for your content and use it throughout. These are 3+ words long, and you want to try to use it in your meta title and description too!
Where do I find keywords so I can put them in my content to get better SEO? Well, we love using Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush and SERPstat. We encourage you to do your own research though, including searching on Google, looking at Amazon and browsing social media for the things you want to rank for.
2. Write More Content – But Make Sure it is Unique, Useful Content that is SEO Friendly
Blogging, writing more pages and increasing the words on your pages is a great way to increase traffic, but only when it is done right! Just because you have 500 blog posts, doesn’t mean you will automatically rank higher in a search engine. Your content needs to not only be there, it needs to be well written, understandable and useful to the person searching for it.
You want to constantly be updating and adding to your website. One of the best ways that businesses do this is by starting a blog. This will give relevant information to your customers and answer the questions they might be searching for. But before you start writing more content make sure that:
Write about you, and what makes you different
Don’t use duplicate content
Make sure you use keywords
If you want people to find you try making your posts location specific
Make it easy to read, but also well written
3. Structure Your Content, Make It Easy to Read
Once you’ve sat down and written your amazing page or blog post, you need to make sure that you make your content easy for a user to read. Always remember that where people read it will vary a lot, some will see it on their desktop, some on their tablet and many on their mobile. Creating easy to read and follow content is one of the easiest ways to improve SEO on your page. To do this use headings, subheadings, keep your paragraphs short and sweet, and break up your text with graphics!
Using headings, blockquotes, pictures and short paragraphs will make your content easier to read, and give you a higher rank in search engines!
4. Optimize Your Graphics for SEO
You might be writing amazing content, but without graphics that are optimized you are missing out on points towards your placement in search engines. If you want to use different multimedia elements including photos, videos and infographics to increase your ranking then you need to optimize them for search engines.
Make sure you give your images descriptions, relevant titles and alt tags! This lets search engines “read” your graphics.
Adding graphics won’t immediately increase your SEO but it helps your user experience. Also since search engines don’t have “eyes” you need to make sure they can “read” your graphics. Since they cannot see a photo, you need to add titles, descriptions and something called an alt tag to each of your graphics. Alt tags are the description that search engines read to understand what the photo is of. In WordPress, you will see a section for Alt Tag when you upload a photo.
5. Make Sure You Use Meta Tags and Descriptions For Your Search Results
If you are writing a blog post or page on your site, you want to customize your meta tag and description. These are what a search engine will show when you come up in the results. Using your keywords and logical information will keep you relevant, and make sure people who see the result actually click on it. On every page or post of your Strathcom site, you will find the Yoast plugin, if you click on the auto generated content you can change it to be better for SEO.
What Else Can You Do?
SEO is something you could spend all day everyday doing. This is why there are companies that specialize in it. These five tips are just the icing on the cake to improving your SEO. From there you can get into more technical SEO and link building practices, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.
In a recent edition of Google Best Practices they laid out the difference between auction-time quality and the 1-10 quality score. Regarding your quality score, here are 3 things that matter:
The User’s Device
Performance on Related Keywords
I don’t think that there is anyone out there that can argue that these factors do not effect your quality score. But here are some factors that, contrary to some opinions, do not matter:
How You Structure Your Account
This article says it best by saying “If it doesn’t affect user experience, it shouldn’t affect quality or Quality Score”. Accounts should be set up in the way that you can best manage and optimize them.
Running Your Ads in Other Networks
If your goal is to drive more traffic, targeting the Google Display Network or Google’s Search partners in your AdWords account won’t affect your ad quality on Google.com.
Your Ad’s Placement on the Page
I want to highlight, underline and bold this sentence: Your ad’s placement on the page does not matter when it comes to ad quality. Having a high position on the page might have some benefits, but at the end of the day it does not necessarily effect the ROI of your ads. As mentioned in a different article by Search Engine Land:
“I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve been contacted by both clients and prospects with the statement, ‘Company XYZ is above me. We’re better than them, and we need to outrank them.’
OK… let’s take a beat and wrap our heads around what’s really being said here. While the statement seems logical, what is actually being said is:
Company XYZ is above me for the phrase I looked up. We’re better than them, and we need to divert all energies away from pursuing ROI goals and focus on one single vanity phrase.
What we need to remember is that none of this is actually about ranking for a specific phrase. In fact, the goal of our efforts is not rankings at all, but rather revenue. I don’t know about you, but if there were higher revenue from ranking in position 21 than position 1, I’d be working hard to get all our clients to the top of page three”.
All any advertiser wants is for their advertisement to result in a sale. Whether that advertisement is number one or number three on the page does not matter as long as it doesn’t negatively effect user experience and it converts.
So there you have it; 3 things that matter and 3 things that don’t according to Google. If you need more information about how you can succeed on Google or anywhere else online, drop us a line today!
From April 17th-20th, I had the opportunity to attend one of the largest gatherings of PPC nerds in North America: HeroConf 2017 hosted in Los Angeles. This was my first PPC conference and I had no idea what to expect, but I couldn’t have felt more at home at the conference among other people who live and breathe PPC.
It was a busy week filled with learning, networking, and free drinks. Despite all the fun, I came home excited to share my new knowledge with the Strathcom team. Here are my key takeaways about what to expect in the world of PPC in the future.
It’s Time to Move on From Last Click Attribution
Attribution Modeling was one of the hottest topics discussed at HeroConf. Speakers from all industries agreed that it’s time to ditch the last click model, and focus on other touchpoints that lead to a conversion. However, there is no magical way of knowing which model is right for you. Speaker Jeff Greenfield of C3 Metrics discussed the importance of not waiting around for the perfect model, but to test and test again. The only way to prove the value of attribution models is to test until you become less wrong. Attribution modelling is extremely important in the automotive industry as we move away from the standard sales funnel, to a customer journey with multiple touchpoints. By ignoring the touchpoints a customer reaches today, we may never see them again for another 3 years.
Integrate Your Paid Social & Paid Search Strategies
Marketers are making the mistake of not integrating search and social strategies, or choosing to ignore social all together. Keynote speaker Jason Dailey of Facebook’s US Agency Development team stressed the importance of running a social campaign along with search ads, and how to properly run the content together.
To no surprise to anyone, mobile is the leader in performance marketing channels, and is the key platform to integrating search and social. Jason mentioned that people are on their phones from when they wake up to when they go to bed, and are less distracted by things around when consuming content on their smartphones (as opposed to TV).
The key to integration is recognizing that search and social advertising have the same outcomes, but with different signals. On social media, we can identify our audience based on their profiles and engagement, but cannot identify their intent online. Paid search allows us to discover our customer’s intent with keyword targeting, but cannot identify who they are as a person. Integrating social and search brings us to the middle ground of the two to execute a successful online advertising campaign.
Making Sure Your SEO & SEM Get Along
My favorite session of the week was keynote speaker Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive. Wil brought an exciting insight as an SEO expert on how paid listings should complement organic. As PPC analysts, it is so easy to forget why customers are using Google, and focusing too much on getting them in our sales funnel. His key take way was optimizing for the real world, and making sure you answer the customer’s question. If your organic or paid listings don’t help the customer, another source will. A true example below shows that both ads on the top of the page have no mention of the price of a Toyota Rav4, and the answer is provided by a non-dealer website. Making sure ad copy or ad extensions match the “why” of a consumer’s search will improve the quality of traffic SEO and SEM listings receive.
It would be difficult for me to include everything I have learned in a single blog post. HeroConf 2017 was a great experience and provided so much insight into how to succeed in PPC in 2017. Can’t wait to return next year in Austin!
2016 was the beginning of the big push toward establishing your dealership’s brand and ‘brand management’, and it has only continued in 2017. What most dealerships seem to miss is the difference between their brand and their reputation (or that there is a difference in the first place).
Your brand creates an impression that makes a customer think or feel something when they think of your dealership. Your reputation is what gives your customers an expectation of your future behavior based on past experiences – either their own, or from other customers who have dealt with you.
Customers aren’t going to love your brand – they’re going to love you, and your reputation because that’s what’s tangible to them. The two pieces absolutely go hand-in-hand, but brand recognition alone is not going to spontaneously generate engagement; there has to be a reason why the consumer should pick you over your competitor.
You’ve probably heard before that the three major differences between businesses are product, price, and perceived value. Especially with new vehicles, you don’t have a better product than the next guy selling the exact same vehicle. Those identical vehicles cost the same amount from the factory, so if you want to differentiate yourself by price, you’re going to be giving up profit (and that’s clearly not a sustainable plan if you want to make money). That leaves only one option – perceived value.
Over and above an extra set of weather tech floor mats, or priority service appointment bookings, most customers just want to know that they’re going to be treated fairly.
86% of customers will pay more for a better experience
This is where your reputation comes in. When 84% of consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation, reputation is the clear call-to-action for your dealership over the next one. If you’re spending any amount of money on a brand awareness campaign (print, radio, outdoor, television, branded PPC ads, and so on), why wouldn’t you care about what happens once the customer remembers who you are and decides to look you up?
And this is where we come in. Register for our Reputation Management webinar with Melina Beeston, our Manager of Dealer Development, to learn about how you can leverage your dealership’s reputation to make more money.
In the latest article from Google Best Practices, Google gave 4 Tips for a Frictionless Mobile Experience. Not all of their tips necessarily apply to the automotive industry, but these are 4 simple ways to make your mobile site better.
Make it Responsive
Even in 2017, there is a chance your site may not be truly responsive. In order for your site to be responsive, it must automatically adapt to every screen size: desktop, tablet, mobile, and every variation in between. Here is a quick and easy tool you can use to see if your site is responsive or just mobile-friendly.
Make it Quick
We have all visited (and left) sites that took too long to load. Find out what your load time is on both mobile and desktop with Google’s Page Insights Tool.
Make it Pop-Up Free
Pop-ups are to a website as retail employees are to a clothing store. If you are like me, you want to get in the store, get what you are looking for, and get out. Having someone approach me to let me know what the deals are can be helpful, but the more I am approached with offers the harder it makes it for me to just get in and get out. The same is true for pop-ups. I know you want to let them know about everything you have to offer, but the more things you have popping up on their screen, the harder it is for them to get to the ‘Schedule A Test Drive” form.
Make it Easy
Google titles this section Reduce buying friction, and provides ways for advertisers to make the checkout process as easy as possible. Right now this doesn’t completely apply to the auto industry, but I’m sure if you look there is friction in your buying process.
For example, how often do you check that the urls on your ads direct users to the right landing page? Are any of the links on your site broken? When was the last time you secret-shopped your own site to make sure your users aren’t running into any errors? These types of things can create friction in the buying process and make it more difficult for shoppers to get what they are looking for.
As consumers, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. It’s no doubt that the research process during the car buying experience has changed dramatically. According to studies by Google, “consumers in their early research moment, such as which car-is-best or is-it-right for me moments, are signaling intent to visit a dealership within a week”. A visit to your website is ideally followed by a visit to the dealership. So, for automotive retailers, having a strong digital presence is crucial.
According to Google, the car buyers’ thought process looks a little something like this:
Which car is best?
Is it right for me?
Can I afford it?
Where should I buy it?
Am I getting a deal?
Which car is best?
One of the most impactful mediums for consumers looking to make a vehicle purchase is video. In fact, when buying a car, 69% are influenced by video opposed to other mediums such as TV, newspapers or magazines. When using the search network, the most common searched terms are “[brand/make] + reviews”, “[brand/make] + specs” and “best luxury cars”.
Is it right for me?
After consumers have narrowed down their search, they begin their hunt to find out if the vehicle is right for their lifestyle and needs. This is where the consumers discover features/options and the interior/exterior aesthetic. This is mainly a visual process, and a majority of time is spent looking at photos. The photo searches of “[brand/make]” is up 37% and 80% of these searches are now happening on mobile.
Can I afford it? Where should I buy it? Am I getting a deal?
After the first two questions have been answered, the consumer generally begins searching for a dealership. This is where the individual dealer’s web presence will become a factor. Dealers need to make sure that they are showcasing OEM incentives, internal promotions, as well as leasing/financing information. But most importantly, prices need to be shown because that is what the customer is ultimately looking for. Dealers should also make sure that their site provides a positive user experience; something as simple as having an unresponsive webpage can impact whether or not a user decides to visit the dealership.
Dealers also need to utilize tools such as Google+ reviews, automotive forums, Unhaggle, and other mediums that customers use to help them make their decision.
Despite the evolving methods of how consumers access information, the end of the process always ends at the dealership. As consumers come into dealerships equipped with their researched knowledge, they expect sales staff to also be product-experts. In order for manufacturers and dealers to fully understand the decision making avenues of the buyer, they must understand the small “micro-transactions” involved throughout the entire procedure. Having a strong digital presence in each of the avenues will always set a dealer ahead of the competition.
To find out more about how to improve your online presence and get more leads, give us a call today or subscribe to our newsletter!
eMarketer has released their Automotive StatPack for 2016. This statpack gives an overview of digital automotive trends in 4 categories:
Industry Sales & Transactions
Buyers & Consumer Behavior
Consumer Attitudes Toward New Automotive Technology
Below is a quick summary of the report; even though it contains primarily U.S. data, there are still trends in ad spending for OEMs and Dealers, as well as changes in consumer behavior that are relevant to the Canadian market.
2016 was a very successful year for Strathcom Media.
We strengthened partnerships, made new partnerships, and even developed and launched a brand new WordPress website platform.
New Website Platform
Last year we had a dream. A dream that resulted in us investing over a million dollars into developing a brand new website platform that was jam packed with new tools for dealers.
Less than a year later, we began moving our dealers onto our all new WordPress platform with technologies like Personalization, Geo-Fencing, Notepad, Silent Salesman and more. This new platform is faster, more secure, and more user friendly so dealers can spend less time making changes to their site and more time selling cars.
In addition to Google breakfasts and hangouts in Vancouver and Toronto, we also held our very first Google event in our hometown of Edmonton, Alberta in June. We also held a contest in September to bring 6 lucky winners to Google’s newest & coolest office in Waterloo, Ontario!
In 2016 we became a Provider for the Mercedes-Benz Canada Dealer Website Program, and a Preferred Website Vendor for the Kia Dealer Website Certification Program.
In addition to speaking at conferences like AR Canada and DSES, we also had the opportunity to speak at the first annual Women & Automotive conference in Toronto. We also attended several events including Western Canadian Dealer Summit and ThinkAuto.
We were also included in AR Canada’s Power 200 List for 2016!
And finally, last month we packed up and moved just up the road into our new office. A new location means a new atmosphere, and a new atmosphere means fresh ideas for the new year.
Thank you to all of our customers for their support, and we look forward to what 2017 has to bring!