Effective SEO campaigns are more than just keywords and meta tags
It’s not news that search engine optimization has been a hot topic in the automotive industry for quite a while. You have probably spent a significant amount of time throughout the last year learning SEO terms and best practices. You might have even come to the conclusion that creating a successful SEO campaign can be somewhat overwhelming—especially when you’re trying to beat everyone else to the top of search engine results pages.
Keep in mind that optimization isn’t simply about getting higher ranking or more traffic to your Web site. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. What good is a Web site if shoppers are leaving as soon as they get there? A site that is optimized well will not only attract shoppers, but also keep them engaged in the car search. Just as you can’t see the full image until all of the puzzle pieces are in place, your Web site is not truly working for you unless you have tuned each part of it.
One piece to think about when developing your Web site is the design as it relates to your dealership brand and what you have to offer to car shoppers. Coordinate your design with your logo and make sure the colors and layout of your Web site reflect the brand of your dealership. Remember, consistency is key.
Also, consider how your users will respond to the layout and functionality of your site. Will visitors notice your specials? Is searching your inventory a quick and easy process? Do shoppers have the ability to compare several vehicles at once, or the opportunity to build their ideal car? Including useful tools that help shoppers find the cars that meet their needs will make them more likely to make their next vehicle purchase at your dealership.
Another important piece of your online presence is determining how you’re going to measure the website’s success. As you are building your site, you need to set up an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, to get insight into how users find your site and what they do while there. Use this information to determine what keywords you should include in your page content.
Once you have collected and looked at the stats for your website, evaluate the content. Make yourself the authority in the auto business by turning your Web site into a one-stop shop for vehicle information, and consumers will keep coming back to your website.
Start with the basics, such as your contact information, dealership history and inventory listings. Then take it a step further and include OEM-specific information and other details that would interest customers such as parts and services or credit components.
Shoppers also appreciate user reviews from existing customers. In fact, the New Autoshopper.com Study noted that about 38% of online auto shoppers use these reviews as a resource, and 87% of them believe the information was helpful during their shopping process.
Another sticky element you should always keep updated is your specials. According to Mintel’s Automotive Purchase Process, nearly 80% of shoppers are online just to check vehicle prices. But, simply having a coupon available on your Web site won’t be enough generate leads. You have to make the specials eye-catching, with a strong call to action.
This Web site content is important, but it becomes infinitely more useful when you optimize it. According to the most recent Automotive Internet Shopper Study by J.D. Power and Associates, 86% of auto shoppers are going online to search for their next vehicle. With so many people looking to dealer websites for information, you need to make yourself familiar with SEO basic best practices.
Go back to your analytics tool and see which key words and phrases are driving shoppers to your Web site and adjust your content to include that information. Avoid stuffing your content with keywords as this is frowned upon by search engines and will lead to lower ranking for your site.
You can also create more indexable pages for your site by optimizing your inventory content. For example, you can insert alt text on each of your images so search engines will know more about the vehicles in the pictures. You should also give your customers the complete picture by including all essential vehicle information. Since online shoppers aren’t able to see your cars in person, include keyword-rich descriptions, a list of available features and other specifics such as miles per gallon, transmission and mileage.
It’s also beneficial to enhance your existing linking structure by adding videos of your vehicles to YouTube and linking those back to the appropriate pages in your inventory.
Once you have your design, analytics and optimized content in place, you should start integrating your social media presence with your Web site. Take time to regularly update the content on your social networking profiles and make sure it’s consistent with the content on your website. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are great avenues for promoting user reviews, new specials and invites for community events. Remember that the people who visit your Web site via your social media profiles are people who have already invested in a relationship with your dealership and have a positive opinion about you.
Any good Web site provider should know all of these online best practices and more —from building the site to writing the content to optimizing its performance. But a great Web site provider will continue searching for ways to increase your site’s productivity and success, and they’ll always keep you in the know.