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.
Conversion Optimization: probably the most important topic imaginable for building car dealership websites, and a topic we’d like to shed some light on. Here’s what we at Strathcom discovered during our tests for conversion rates!
A Call to Action is Like Asking for the Sale
You train your Salespeople to close the deal, and the same kind of logic behind that also applies online. There’s no denying the insane importance of a Call to Action (CTA), and knowing just when and where to ask for the sale is just as important. In our tests, we excluded clicks from top-level menus. Here are the stats:
The Most Clicked-on Webpages
- New/Used Inventory – people like to browse, so let’s suggest taking a test drive, for example
- Specials – let’s load this page up with incentives; that’s the idea here anyways, right?
- Service Appointment
Button-style CTAs outperformed “image + text” CTAs. Main CTA buttons account on average for almost half of the clicks on a webpage, making them by far the most important CTAs to include.
The higher above the fold, the higher the conversions.
A Convenient Quick-Search Bar
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Users want to find what they’re looking for right away and if they don’t, they’ll go somewhere else. The stats:
One of the top-performing homepage elements to encourage conversions – we found in our tests that quick-search bars average around 20% of all site clicks.
- Placement on the homepage doesn’t matter, as it’s consistently used wherever we put it – it’s just a matter of making it accessible
- When placed lower on a page, users will actively scroll down to use it
A Ton of Links
One paragraph on the homepage could contain links to just about every other section of the site, giving readers an easy way of searching for and finding what they need. Stats:
Most Clicked-on Links
- Contact Info/Location/Directions/Hours – some users are customers already, and they just want to find out where and when they can drop by, so let’s be sure they can find out easily
- Book Service Appointment
- View New/Used Inventory
Links with button styles, but ONLY when used sparingly – let’s be smart about how we use buttons.
For our testing purposes, “conversions” was defined as clicks which took a user to an internal webpage. We tested using heat maps, click maps, and Google Analytics data, and our tests were done over multiple sites with differing designs.
Is it fair to expect to convert visitors on their first visit to a website? According to Hub Spot, approximately 96% of visitors that come to a website are not ready to buy….yet[i]. For the casual browser who is looking for more information, offering the visitor relevant information to keep them on your webpage for longer could mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce.
That being said, we all know that a certain percentage of bounce is inevitable for any website out there, particularly when we are dealing with an extremely competitive landscape such as automotive marketing.
Google has started automatically upgrading Google Place listings from their old platform to the new Google Places dashboard.
If Google detects that your business has a duplicate listing, they will send out this email asking for your help:
We’d like to inform you that Google Places no longer accommodates more than one authorized owner per business location. Your account contains one or more listings that have been identified as duplicated of other listings and as a result, some of the information you provide will not be shown to Google users anymore.
Many businesses now have accounts on Google Places, Google Plus, and Google Plus business listings. Google Places and Google Plus are now one. That means if you claimed your Places listing through your Plus Account in the past, you may have a duplicate listing in your Local dashboard.
Normally your claimed listing will be labelled “Claimed,” and if you have a duplicate it will be unclaimed. If your duplicate doesn’t have any reviews or other important information that Google pulled through, then it’s safe to go ahead and delete it and keep your “Claimed” page. However, if your duplicate listing has all of your old reviews, you’ll need to call the Google Places Team support centre.
Unlike internal duplicates that appear on the dashboard, external duplicates appear on maps, places, and local business listings. To clean these up, edit the business listing by clicking on the About Us Tab and then Edit Business Information at the bottom of the “Contact Information” section.
Once you click “Edit Business Information,” you can check the option suggesting the Places page is a duplicate of another and leave comments to prove your assumption. It’s a good idea to leave a link to the other duplicate listing. The duplicate listing should then be fixed by Google.
Watch Google closely to ensure that your profiles get properly merged into one. For more information on the topic, you can check out an answer on Google’s forum from Google Employee Jade.
~ Samantha Goettel
I’ve finally found some time to make an update on my previous post SEO ranking factors for 2013. There have been many important changes this past year and I wanted to talk about what will be important for your dealership website in 2014.
Secure Search & Hummingbird Conversational Content
Perhaps the biggest, most radical change of the year was Google’s move to 100% secure search in late September. Most SEOs had been watching the rising amount of keywords moving into the (Not Provided) keyword batch, but we didn’t think it was going to come so soon.
Secure search and the Hummingbird algorithm change were released just a few months apart, and it totally makes sense why Google did this. Google wants websites to start creating content around topics rather than specific keywords. The Hummingbird algorithm asks website owners to start thinking more about the meaning of keywords on a page.
This is another push to ensure they only rank the highest quality websites for their searchers. The Panda update was all about punishing websites with thin and low-quality content, and it followed other updates that penalized keyword stuffing.
Since Google has been pushing out so many updates focusing on ranking sites with quality content, it’s safe to say we need to continue producing great content for our sites.
For car dealerships, that includes things like content-rich landing pages where car buyers can research vehicles and get the information they need without having to visit manufacturer websites. Blogs are also another great way to add new content to your site and you can schedule to write them weekly to keep your content fresh.
Tips for Thriving in the Age of Google Hummingbird
- Think about topics rather than keywords when writing content for your website.
- Answer searchers’ questions: Ask yourself what questions the page answers. Are there different synonyms for the keyword topics that you can use on the page?
- Seek out legitimate businesses similar to yours to link to. Ensure that the link has something to do with the partners’ content on their site.
- Try to get irrelevant links to your site removed. If you are having difficulty doing this, use the Google links disavow tool.
Adwords PPC Has a New Relationship with SEO
Since Google decided to encrypt most keyword data in Google Analytics, our ability to see which keywords are bringing in web traffic is limited. However, there is a loophole: this data is still available in a PPC Adwords campaign. Increasing your pay per click (PPC) budget can now help SEOs analyze the keyword data available in an Adwords campaign.
Google Loves a Website that Loads Quickly
Google favours websites that load more quickly than others. This makes sense: who wants to sit and wait for a website to load for more than 5 seconds? In today’s technology-saturated world, people are impatient and if they don’t get the results they are looking for within seconds, they will go somewhere else. It’s just like if someone were to walk into your dealership and not receive any service within the first few minutes. It’s not minutes online—it’s seconds.
To ensure our sites load quickly we must:
- Keep our sites free of too many large, uncompressed images.
- Limit the number of sliders and carousels we use per page.
- Limit the number of images we include in our sliders and carousels.
Mobile searches have now surpassed desktop searches in the USA. Do you have a mobile friendly website? You had better! Today’s car buyers search cars for sale on their mobile phones while on the go.
More information is starting to show up right in search results to tempt searchers to click on your listings.
For some websites, you can now see product pricing, if a product is in stock, reviews and ratings, authorship images, contact information and more—right on your Google search results page.
This data has been marked up using something called a rich snippet. Although it’s not a ranking factor, it does increase your click-through rate, which in turn increases the traffic to your site (which is in turn a ranking factor).
Online Chatter & Social Media
You just gotta do it! You gotta get out of traditional marketing and get into the realm of Social Media. The world is changing every day, and if you don’t change with it, you will be left behind. You just gotta get out of there!
Social Media isn’t there just for your customers to complain to you and it’s not just a fad. Social Media can actually help you sell more cars online and improve the ranking of your website. More and more Social Media platforms are being created every day, and many are booming with instant popularity. Pinterest and Instagram are some of the “newer” accounts that your dealership should be engaging in.
Today, diversification is a major trend: it’s no longer enough to be active on a single network like Facebook.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you writing content that people will want to share?
- Is your content easily shareable? Do you have share buttons on your website?
- Are you active on the social networks that matter in the automotive industry?
- Are you active on the social networks that matter to your customers?
Social Media is important, as Google’s continued algorithm updates are relying more and more on social signals. Social media accounts also spread your content around the web, marketing your site to those who don’t know who you are yet.
Google+ is one Social Media account a is complete must for any dealership. Your Google+ profile marries with your website, helping you boost your authority and increase visibility in local search queries. Since your dealership is a local businesses, it’s essential to claim your Places page and pimp out your Google+ profile.
Content Marketing is Huge
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. – Content Marketing Institute
From an SEO standpoint, Google takes content marketing as a sign that a company or business is legitimate and something that they would want to support through a higher ranking in search engine results.
Content Marketing Complies with Many SEO Ranking Signals
- Your searchers will have regular new content they can engage with to answer their questions.
- Your social signals and engagement will increase.
- “Fresh” content signals that your site is alive and growing.
- You benefit from increased authority connected to your entire business.
There you have it. Content is still king, and it looks like it always will be. SEO is online marketing and it’s not just about keywords anymore; it’s about marketing your website online and not just offline. The more your website is talked about, shared, “liked,” “plussed” and visited, the better your chances of ranking at the top of Google’s search engine result pages.
If you have any questions about how to get started with the online marketing and SEO of your website, contact us.
~ Samantha Goettel
By now, one should not be surprised that Google has launched another huge algorithm change. Google updates their algorithm several hundred times a year, launching large updates and then tweaking those updates — sometimes almost daily.
The two largest updates in the past that affected many websites were the Google Panda and Google Penguin update.
We now welcome another bird into the algorithm family. Meet the new Google Hummingbird search engine. This change is not just an update but a whole new algorithm, which was announced during Google’s 15th birthday party on Thursday, September 29th, 2013. However, this was not the launch date of the algorithm. Google announced that the change was already set in place, and has already been running for the past few months. It is essentially an update to its Knowledge Graph, much like the Facebook Graph Search announcement from January of this year.
Google Knowledge Graph
Knowledge Graph was added to Google’s search engine in May, 2012, starting in the United States. It is essentially an immense database enhanced with something called semantic search. Semantic search improved search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable database. For example, instead of only finding websites related to keywords, Google can now parse data from strings of keywords — essentially full-length questions — and provide it right in their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). An example of semantic search in the Knowledge Graph is the informative box that pops up on side of SERP. See the Tom Cruise example below.
As you can see below, when searching for “Tom Cruise,” the Knowledge Graph used semantic search and anticipated what I may search for. It has used the most popular searches about Tom Cruise and compiled them in one place, directly in the SERP so that one does not need to click into several websites to finish their search on Tom Cruise. The information below shows me his birthday, how tall he is (because he’s really short), what his upcoming movies are, recent news on him and his top movies.
As you can see, Google is now able to map relationships between many things and answer complex queries itself, all based on information compiled from many sources on the Internet.
Google can now understand more complex strings of searches, particularly questions such as this distance question below:
Just like the Facebook Graph Search, your more complex questions can now be answered without having to visit a website.
What Exactly Is Hummingbird?
The Hummingbird algorithm primarily improves the speed of these more complex searches. Hence being named after the quick and speedy hummingbird.
How Does the Hummingbird Algorithm Affect the Automotive Industry?
We have to remember that the Knowledge Graph and semantic search are still very new. Not everything is available in the database yet. Over the years, the Graph will become smarter and may soon answer extremely complicated queries in every industry.
For now, it doesn’t look like there is any automotive information available in the Graph. I performed several searches related to the automotive industry and no information was available; just your regular old URLs popped up.
How to Stay Ahead and Not Get Caught up in Algorithm Updates: What Does It Mean for SEO?
Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content with highly relevant websites linking to your website, then your website still should rank well. The key to making proper decisions about SEO is to understand where Google is going. Google’s end goal is to provide their searchers exactly what they searched for. If your website doesn’t answer a question that a user is asking, then it won’t rank well. If your website provides information that users are searching for, it will remain in the top of the SERPs. If people are recommending your site because it has great information, then your site will rank, if no one is recommending the site online, then perhaps you need to re-think the content that you have on your website.
- Listen to your clients. Are there questions that are asked daily in the dealership? Consider creating landing pages and tracking their success to determine which content should be available on your website. Continue to provide your expertise on landing pages so that your website is ready to answer searchers’ questions in the automotive industry.
- Are there new vehicle models? Create landing pages explaining what is unique about a new model.
- Are you engaging with your clients online? 90% of car buyers use social media in their car buying process. Build relationships with your clients online and answer their questions for them. In turn, people will link to your content (more online recommendations) and begin to trust your knowledge of the automotive industry.
- Encourage reviews. Let your clients know that if they enjoyed their experience with you, that you are online on Yelp and Google+ and you would appreciate a review. The more online recommendations, the better the rankings!
- Are you staying up-to-date with new SEO features that are now available such as Rich Snippets?
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (780) 433-8844 or toll-free at 1 (888) 914-1444.
A large percentage of the population uses smart phones to search for local services and products. While the most-used maps application is Google Maps, if you ignore the following Apple statistics you could be missing out on a big piece of the APPLE maps PIE. There will be an estimated One BILLION Apple devices active in the year 2015. Over 35% of Apple users use the default map application called Apple Maps. That’s 35% of a billion! Even without doing the math, we all know that that’s a lot of users.
Car dealerships are local businesses, and this is why a dealership must focus on Local SEO. What is Local SEO?
A specialized kind of online marketing that increases visibility for businesses interested in ranking for geographically-related searches. –Wikipedia
There are many aspects to Local SEO, and many steps to Local SEO one must perform to be successful. One important step is optimizing, claiming, managing and having accounts on map services online like Google Places and Apple Maps.
These steps will ensure your car dealership shows up in Apple Maps:
- Have a business Yelp Account. Since Yelp and Apple Maps are so closely correlated, just having a Yelp Account usually guarantees you will show up in Apple Maps. If your business has been verified on Yelp, there’s a good chance that it will show up on the maps.
- Open the Apple Maps app on an apple device.
- Search for your business name
Make sure you search using the location. Apple Maps can get easily confused if the query isn’t precise. As we all know, Apple Maps isn’t quite up-to-snuff compared to Google Maps and the app suffers from quirky data consistency issues. It is recommended to do the following searches, just to make sure your dealership shows up for all of them:
- dealership name + city
- dealership name + city + province
- dealership name + street address
- dealership name + street address + city
- dealership name + street address + city + province
- dealership phone number
If your dealership doesn’t show up:
It means that Apple Maps does not have your business in its database or it’s confusing you with another dealership with a similar name in a different location.
Here are some ways you can try to correct the situation:
- Select the page fold in the bottom right.
- Select “Report a Problem”
- Select “Location is missing,” then “Next”
- Position the pin to the correct location, then select “Next”
- Enter your business details; don’t forget to enter your dealership name
- Make sure you select a category (Automotive, car dealership, etc)
- Select send
- Submit your dealerhips to Localeze
- Localeze is the core U.S. business listing data provider for Apple Maps. If you didn’t find your dealership in Apple Maps, you can check to see if your dealership is listed on Localeze.com. If not, you can submit your information to Localeze for free. That said, the free submissions can take a while to make it into the database.
Any business that gets some or all of its customers or clients locally should be optimizing their website for local SEO. Whether you are a local restaurant, retail outlet, doctor, dentist or a car dealership, if you have a physical address in a city and expect people to go to your brick-and-mortar location, you should focus on local SEO. Here are my top 7 tips to help your website rank locally:
1. Ensure Your Website Content References Your Location.
Remember to reference your city in the content on your site alongside the names of your product or service. It seems simple, but this tactic is often overlooked. Remember to add the location within the headings on your site. For example, a good heading would be: “Honda vehicle collision repair in Edmonton, Alberta” while the content, could read: “We offer the finest auto collision repair with competitive pricing in Edmonton, Alberta. Get bumper dent repair & paintless scratch repair on the famous Whyte Ave in Edmonton.” When Google crawls your website it will note the product/service alongside the city name. Remember, you don’t want to overstuff your content with keywords or the location name!
2. Claim or Register Your Google Places Listing.
To check if a Google Places listing exists for your business, search for your business name in Google maps. If nothing shows up, you may need to create a Google Places for Business account If you already have an account, you will want to claim your listing by clicking on the big red button on the right hand side that says “Manage this page” (you must be signed into a Gmail address).
Remember, the more complete your account the better. Add products, brands you sell, photos, videos, services offered, hours of operation, industry information – everything you can. DO NOT cram extra keywords or location names in your business title as Google may delete your listing if you cheat with keywords. Once you are satisfied with its completeness you can submit your Places profile to Google. Google will then send you a postcard in the mail with a unique pin, which you then enter into your account to verify its information.
3. Add Your Address in The Footer of Your Site.
Having a business address that’s been verified with Google places and a phone number on your website increases your authority and tells Google that you’re a real business. Adding your local address in the footer which appears on each page is a good way to show Google where your business is located and verifies that you are a real business. It will also match up with your Google Places listing and often will show up as a blended search listing in the search engine result pages (SERPs) with your places listing. Don’t forget to include your postal code, as this often gets forgotten.
4. Name, Address & Phone Number (NAP) Consistency.
You want to maintain a consistent company name, address & phone number (NAP) across all directories, blogs, articles and sections of your website. For example, if your dealership name is “Joe’s Chevrolet car emporium” you don’t want to call it “Joe’s Chevy car emporium” on one page, or “Joe’s car emporium” on another – be consistent! Any variations can dilute your search results. The same thing goes for your address; commit to one way of displaying your mailing address and make sure it’s always the same. With your phone number, it’s best to display your local number instead of a 1-800 number. This shows Google that you are in fact a local business.
Reviews are similar to link building to your website. Genuine reviews show Google that real people are using your services or buying your product and taking the time to talk about it online. Encourage your customers to review your business on Google Places and other review sites such as Yelp and Hotfrog.
6. Update your Page Titles.
Page title, also called a “title tag,” isone of the most important factors in SEO. You want to ensure your title tags are unique on each page, and use highly searched long tail keyphrases combined with the location of your business. Remember, only 70 characters of your title tag are displayed in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS), so you have to be choosey with your words.
7. Add a Blog to Your Site.
A blog is a simple way to add fresh content to your site. Google loves fresh new content and a blog is a great way to achieve that. Use a blog to provide insight and information about your product or service. Blog about upcoming sales in your current city! Get started by checking out these cool topics for car dealer blogs & remember to reference your city name whenever you can.
I hope these 7 tips help you build better local SEO for your website.
So why is it important to have a blog on your website?
Because it essentially shows your market that you are the industry leader in cars in your city! Be there for your customers and answer their questions.
Google loves fresh content. It shows that your site is always being updated and properly maintained. Google will consider ranking websites that have fresh content over websites with stagnant text.
When people like what they read, they share it or link to your posts. The more links you have pointing to your site, the better. Links act as references for your website; people are essentially recommending your site for others to read, which increases rankings.
Now that you have decided to start a blog, the easy part is over. Coming up with unique blog topics is the hard part. You want to keep an engaged audience by answering your customers’ questions, as people tend to Google by asking questions. For example, “Where is the closest Toyota dealership?” or “Is the Toyota Corolla better than a Honda Civic?” If you write blogs around searchers’ questions, you can increase your traffic, which then increases your rankings.
Here are some cool blog post ideas to get you started.
- Should you lease or finance a new car?
- Is it safe to fill out a credit application on a dealership website?
- What are the top places for road trips around your city?
- What happens when you get your car detailed?
- How to winterize your car.
- Comparison of vehicles. Always been a Honda lover?
- Why not try Ford. Benefits of buying a used car over a new car.
- What happens to a car once it’s traded in to a dealership?
- How much money do I need to save for a down payment on a car?
- Winter tires vs. all-season tires.
- Top car add-ons people swear they can’t live without. (heated seats, satellite radio)
- 10 things to check before buying a used car.
- How often should you get an oil change?
- What are the top off-roading places around your city?
- Review car features, review cars, review services. People are always searching for reviews.
Now get blogging!