Clout is the New Click: Strategizing for Zero-Click SERPs

“Yes, we’ll let you crawl us, you just make sure to give us credit when we give you the data. […] We [SEOs] made Google just as much as they made us, and all they owe us is what they promised at the outset: traffic and credit.”

This is one of the most apt descriptions of the relationship between SEOs and Google, and was shared by Rand Fishkin in 2016, months after the introduction of the featured snippet earlier that year. When Rand made that statement, it was at a time where Google had all but plagiarized the bulk of the information shown in featured snippets and answer boxes, without attributing all information to the original content creators they scraped the data from. Since that time, they’ve done a better job of providing the appropriate clout from those answers to the websites who provided them, while still keeping the core answer in the search result. Today, Google continues to change the way that search results are displayed in an effort to provide answers, not websites. Great for the customer, but not so much for the business.  Continue reading “Clout is the New Click: Strategizing for Zero-Click SERPs”

How Do I Choose The Best Domain Name?

Business people or office workers on the workplace back view,flat vector illustration.

Shakespeare’s Romeo once suggested, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” Since we usually see multiple variations of a dealership’s name strewn across every branded opportunity, car dealerships (and my inner theatre nerd) tend to agree with him. But from an SEO standpoint, this can be confusing to your potential customers. This is why choosing both your dealership’s name and domain name are exceedingly important, especially if you want your website or other online citation listings delivered in one, unified brand name for search results.

Continue reading “How Do I Choose The Best Domain Name?”

Google Knows Everything–Including Your Dealership Location

Network gps navigation modern city future technology

One of the most popular SEO requests we see from dealerships across Canada is to take all of their pages and add groupings of text that list all of the cities, towns, or local areas that they “serve.” Sometimes it’s simply the local areas around them (especially for dealerships that are located in a “greater” area around a major city), and sometimes it stretches far beyond what is logical. I’ve seen dealerships ask to list cities that are hours from their physical location, or attempt to rank in search for an entire province that would take almost a full day to drive from end-to-end. For the love of winter tires, I’m telling you: stop the location stuffing madness. It isn’t helping you, I promise.

Why is this tactic a problem?

Continue reading “Google Knows Everything–Including Your Dealership Location”

“They Came Highly Recommended!”: The Changes to Facebook’s Review System

Vector realistic isolated neon signs of thumbs up and down on the wall background. Concept of rating, network and social media.

Life used to be simpler, before social media democratized everything—including criticism. Now while this can be a good thing (in theory), allowing all consumers to have a voice is an incredibly difficult system to police. Arguably the most famous —slowly becoming infamous— review site Yelp has faced enormous criticism over what’s seen as a Mafioso-like approach that would leave Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola shocked and appalled. Everything from negative reviews about parking, to outright extortion. The pushback has been fierce, and Yelp has been the subject of countless articles, a 2017 documentary, and a 2015 episode of South Park—and if you’ve ever seen South Park, you know that you don’t want to be the subject of one of their episodes. Like many aspects of the digital world, advances come quick and changes come quicker. Facebook is leading the charge in this regard, and are changing their review system from a 5 star rating system into a new, recommendation system. But how will this affect your dealership? Continue reading ““They Came Highly Recommended!”: The Changes to Facebook’s Review System”

Chess, Not Checkers: Why Your Dealership Needs a Digital Strategy

wood chess pieces on board game. brown vintage background

When most dealerships are faced with the question, “Does your business have a digital strategy?”–the usual answer is (hopefully), “Yes, of course!” And this would be great, but are you truly utilizing this strategy? Or, even worse, are you not using a strategy at all? We’re not saying that not having a digital strategy is borderline criminal (though it is)–we’re just here to help.

Strategy, according to Wikipedia, is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. In short, a strategy is an in-depth plan. For your dealership you should be thinking of the long-term advantages your dealership provides compared to your competition, and how you can defend that competitive advantage. Continue reading “Chess, Not Checkers: Why Your Dealership Needs a Digital Strategy”

Trust Us: Using your Site to Build Credibility

Trust banner and icons

For any business, credibility is key in maintaining a high level of customer service and, in turn, a high level of customer loyalty. This is especially important for the automotive sales industry, the long-time favourite butt of many a joke aimed at the quintessential “used car salesman” and his well-greased “what do I have to do to put you in this car today, sir-or-madam” approach to business. How then is a dealership best advised when it comes to building a reputation that the consumer will trust? Focusing on the area of online presence, this post will outline a few of the steps you should take (or, frankly should have already taken) to help ensure that the legend of the sleazy car lot doesn’t haunt your reputation on the net! Continue reading “Trust Us: Using your Site to Build Credibility”

You Ask, We Answer: Google My Business

map with google my business written and pin on top of map

Welcome back to another installment of “You Ask, We Answer!” (*intense music plays*). Because when you’ve got questions, we won’t rest until we find the answers. Well, there was that one time when one of the temps fell asleep while searching for the answer, but we doused them with a bottle of cold water–because that’s the type of intensity we bring to our webinars!

Today, we tapped our Lead Content Strategist, Google Local Guide, and moral beacon Melina Beeston to talk about Google My Business. Not only have we embedded the video below, but we’ve transcribed the whole damn thing (while I may subscribe to the infinite monkey theorem, it isn’t the best practise as a business).   Continue reading “You Ask, We Answer: Google My Business”

You Ask, We Answer: Technical SEO

Vector illustration - Web development

Welcome to the first of many thrilling installments of “You Ask, We Answer!” (working on the production value, in the meantime just imagine a gong sound in the background), where you send in your questions, and we answer them in our webinars.

We figured we’d start out strong with our Director of Product Development, CrossFit strongwoman, and all-around good gal, Carrie Oliva, talking about On-Page and Technical SEO. We’ve embedded the video footage of the webinar below, and then painstakingly transcribed (read: edited what the app transcribed for us) the answers to the questions below that. Continue reading “You Ask, We Answer: Technical SEO”

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. Continue reading “Optimizing your Dealership’s Online Presence with Google”

What Are Meta Descriptions?


What Are Meta Descriptions?

You know that little blurb at the bottom of the link on Google that kind of tells you the answer when you hastily searched for “weird growth on big toe”? That’s a meta description. They’re often used to preview text from the content when sharing to social media, but we here at Strathcom Media think it’s so much more than that. Even though Google recommends you to only write up to 155 characters, we’re going to tell you how you can make the most out of this small box of information. Read on to learn more about the importance of optimizing your meta descriptions for better visibility on a search engine results page (SERP). Continue reading “What Are Meta Descriptions?”

Driving the Market: What Millennials Look For When Buying Cars

Young and handsome hipster man, buying a new car with his girlfriend, from the car saloon.

How can you best maximize your chances for sales success and brand loyalty, vs. losing sales opportunities in both the short and long-term? For starters, this can be done by having a deeper understanding of the preferred car shopping experience that today’s customer is looking for, both online and offline, and then adjusting the dealership’s business practices accordingly. Today’s customer, who also happens to be the customer of tomorrow, are those who were born between 1977 and 2000 — commonly referred to as millennials. It is estimated that by 2020, 40% of new car buyers will be millennials; furthermore, according to a study by Brandwatch, 88% of current millennials use the internet to research a new car purchase.

Simply put, this means that a dealership’s sales and marketing team must ensure that their shopping experience, both online and off, is up-to-date.

So how can your dealership ensure that its online and offline experience is up-to-date for today’s potential customer, while staying true to your brand? It starts with understanding today’s customer, particularly the millennial, and doing what’s necessary to integrate the online and offline brand experience for them, in one seamless flow. And no, that doesn’t necessarily mean memes or viral videos (which, if used incorrectly, are the online equivalent of the giant inflatable green dancing tube man).

Continue reading “Driving the Market: What Millennials Look For When Buying Cars”

What Are Title Tags?

suit coat with my name is sticker reading title tag!

Title tags are used to specify the title of a web page; they’re clickable elements that lead you to the content on a page. It is what you see in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), tab headline, or social media description. Frequently, you will hear people referring to title tags as SEO titles, or meta titles, but these terms generally all mean the same thing.

Continue reading “What Are Title Tags?”

Businesses, It’s Time to Go APE Over Google My Business’ New API!

Monkey going ape over Google API

Google’s omnipresent HAL9000-esque eye is trained on all things mobile these days, and when it noticed that local search on mobile devices is growing faster than mobile search overall, well, you better believe gears started turning. In response to the remarkable 50 per-cent annual growth in mobile search Google’s been adding new features to its SERP Knowledge Panel and Google My Business (GMB).

And then, an announcement! Google is introducing a new GMB Application Programming Interface (API). In tandem with this release, Google also revealed a new agency analytics dashboard and a new agency partner program. The API is designed to give agencies the ability to manage additional, diverse categories of business information, including merchant descriptions and Posts. For multilocational brands and small outfits alike, this new functionality promises greater control over a wide range of content. Continue reading “Businesses, It’s Time to Go APE Over Google My Business’ New API!”

Reputation Sanitation and the Importance of Gold Stars and Good Responses.

reputation sanitation

In an increasingly interconnected world, a business’ online presence has never been more important. Your star-rating on Google or Facebook can have a real and deciding influence on consumers at a critical point in the purchase decision-making process. Sure, I might not be telling you anything you don’t already know, but don’t switch to YouTube just yet! While the weight that reviews and online ratings carry has long been touted as having a huge influence on a business’ performance in organic search results, and potential to translate into actual warm bodies in showrooms, what’s less intuitive is the finding that business review-response rates also improve paid-search performance. Plainly put, businesses that responded more often to reviews – lets call it reputation sanitation – saw higher conversion rates. Continue reading “Reputation Sanitation and the Importance of Gold Stars and Good Responses.”

Ranking Factors That Matter for Local Search

local search

This blogpost is inspired by a presentation that our very own Melina, Lead Organic Strategist, delivered at the 2018 Auto Remarketing Canada Conference in Toronto, and addresses why local search or SEO matters to your dealership.

What Is Local Search?

Continue reading “Ranking Factors That Matter for Local Search”

Spring Cleaning Your Citations

online citationsIt’s that most welcome time of year, once again: the time when the white stuff melts and reveals an entire season’s worth of underlying dust and grit. While most people will find themselves beating rugs and washing windows, folks in our industry (of the automotive persuasion) have a spring-cleaning list of an entirely different sort — I’m talking about a good seasonal scrub-down of your online citations on the worldwide web. This post aims to elaborate on the nature of online citations (and their functions), while giving some recommendations on what to optimize and where.

Citations: What on Earth are They?

Let’s build on the basics; online citations are essentially your business’ calling card across various online properties. In their most basic form, citations are understood to communicate the Name, Address and Phone number of your dealership, also commonly referred to as the NAP information (NAPW if the citation features website URL information too).

In addition to this, there are two forms of citation: structured citations and (surprise) unstructured citations. Structured citations refer to those that appear on well-known websites geared toward providing business information/listings in a directory-style format. The underpinning intention of this type of citation is to use straightforward, codified data that a SERP could easily pull onto a search results page. Unstructured citations, similar to name-dropping, are in-text citations that mention a business’ NAP information in a more casual format.

Why Online Citations Matter

Citations are of huge importance to your business; they’re a major aspect of the way in which your website ranks on a search engine results page. In fact, it’s estimated that citation-related items comprise nearly 13% of ranking-related factors in local SEO. Why is Google so hung-up on citations? Simple: Google requires verification, and your business listings need to be validated. Search engines are in the business of providing the best possible answer to an individual user’s query, and the veracity of the search results they serve up is a big point of concern.

Dealerships change names, have colloquial nicknames, move locations, and undergo major rebranding all the time. For Google, information like this is fluid and hard to verify on its own. Barring that ability, it’ll take the next best course of action and set about looking for third party validation of your citation. Essentially, this is Google checking up on your references – a quasi-background check, if you will.

When it comes to ranking your site for search purposes, Google employs a rubric based on relevance (how well does this search result satisfy the user’s ask?); distance/location (how close is this dealership to the user’s location?); and prominence (how well-known is your dealership?). Prominence, the last of these three factors, is estimated via Google’s assessment your business’ online and social reviews, as well as the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) that your website maintains over time.

Where Should I Have Citations?

Citations are divided into four tiers that rank in respect to their levels of importance and risk threshold (a measurement of the likelihood that the citation is fabricated or false):

  • Tier One Citations: These citations have widespread recognition, retain a high domain authority, and match user intent closely. They include major listings on sites like Facebook, Bing, Yelp YellowPages, and the Better Business Bureau. Also included are more industry-specific properties such as Autotrader, Kijiji, and official OEM websites. Risk threshold for tier one citations is low.
  • Tier Two Citations: Citations of this type still hold a significant amount of domain authority; user intent is still well matched to the information provided in the citation, though the properties on which they appear are less well-known. Here we’re talking citations that might appear on sites like DealerRater, Unhaggle and Reviewsii. While risk threshold is still low, it is still a degree of certainty removed from those in the first tier.
  • Tier Three Citations: Third-tier citations are low-quality. They’re generic and they exhibit poor SEO practices like keyword stuffing. They also lack the relevance of the preceding two tiers, have a high risk-threshold, and lack serious domain authority.
  • Tier Four Citations: These citations have little or no correlation to user intent, and almost zilch in the way of domain authority. You get the idea…

What to Tidy Up First?

Look, we’re all busy. Especially those of us in charge of the online efforts for our respective dealerships. While it’s crucial that your business’ online citations are consistent across the internet, we recognize that, given time constraints, you’ll want to tackle the most important elements first.

Work on eliminating inconsistencies. Ask yourself:

  • Do my Tier One and Two citations have the same local business phone-number? – Emphasis on local numbers, not call-tracking numbers (as tempting as that might be)
  • Do my citations feature the same Canada Post-approved version of my dealership’s address?
  • Is the name of my dealership consistent? – Did we rebrand recently? Do we have a local nickname? (We were Johnny Appleseed VW before, and now we’re just Appleseed VW; we better get on this…)

Inconsistencies at the base level (such as these might seem) can really harm your business’ ability to rank atop Google’s search results page. It’s important that they’re sorted out, and they’re easy to fix, so why not?

In short, it’s important to shore up the information that features on your Tier One and Two citations first. Scratch Google’s back by being as consistent and straightforward as possible, and it’ll repay the favour by ranking you at the top of it’s search results. Once you understand the function and importance of your online citations, it’s easy to see why it’s a good idea to be diligent in maintaining them. Spring cleaning isn’t only limited to scrubbing away the month’s old veneer of road salt that’s been slowly devouring your driveway or airing a winter’s-worth of farts out of your feather quilts. It’s a time for cleaning up your online presence as well. Interested in doing so? Get in touch with us to learn more about online citations.

If You Only Make One SEO Goal in 2018, It Should Be This

Most dealers are bewildered by the concept of search engine optimization, and it’s not hard to see why. SEO is a constantly changing landscape, and tactics that may have sat at the forefront long enough for them to learn about it are frequently relegated to the back bench no sooner than the dealers have gotten a full grasp of it. However, one thing about SEO has never been clearer:

seo-searcher-intent

Modern day SEO is all about user experience.

Continue reading “If You Only Make One SEO Goal in 2018, It Should Be This”

Reputation Management & How Dealers Can Use It To Make More Money

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. Continue reading “Reputation Management & How Dealers Can Use It To Make More Money”

Online Presence: why it is vital in today’s car buying process

typing on a laptop

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.car salesman congratulates a family for buying car

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!