Most automotive retailers are familiar with marketing concepts like search engine optimization (SEO) and “content,” or messaging that communicates brand or product value to a clearly defined audience. These are mainstays of a modern automotive marketing strategy. What’s not always as obvious is how these, and other marketing tools and strategies, fit together and complement one another.
In the case of SEO and content marketing, it doesn’t help that the two are usually presented as two separate and very different things. SEO is more technical and usually focused on strictly quantifiable results, while content marketing is broader and more holistic, with benefits that may not be as immediately visible. Yet, the full benefits of both SEO and content marketing are only realized when the two are working in tandem. Far from being competing solutions for your marketing dollars, SEO and content marketing actually overlap quite a bit – to the extent that the successful marriage of the two, “optimized content,” is considered one of the best approaches to driving web traffic that translates to increased revenue. What does that marriage look like?
How SEO and Content Marketing Serve Each Other
Remember how I said SEO is a more technical enterprise while content marketing is more holistic? It’s this very gap that is bridged when the two strategies are integrated as they should be. SEO is made more broadly applicable when its narrow focus – keywords and link-building – is consciously woven into all the content you use to push your brand and product messages. At the same time, content marketing is made more precise and effective when an SEO mindset is applied to its conception and implementation. When you blend the two, you are creating optimized content: quality, relevant content written with an SEO-centric approach.
Think of it this way: Google has stated that “content” is among its top three ranking factors1, meaning optimizing your content is literally how you drive your SEO campaigns (beyond the more technical aspects like site tags, enhancing metadata, constructing a sitemap, etc.). Sounds simple enough, right? Build quality, relevant content around effective keywords (without stuffing them in there unnecessarily) with an eye towards building external links to your website. The problem is, too many dealerships make the mistake of doing the opposite, because without knowing at the outset that SEO and content marketing ought to be integrated, the opposite is what comes naturally. What is the opposite? Developing the content you want, or think you want, first, then trying to tack SEO on at the end as a promotional tool.
This is the least efficient way one could possibly approach SEO! It also happens to make your content less effective, since what you might think you need is not necessarily what will drive the most web traffic. Instead, start your planning with keyword and audience research (such as studying user search intents on Google), then design a content strategy that answers common consumer needs and moves them effectively through the sales funnel. The quality of that content is essential: it must communicate your value proposition quickly, clearly, and in a way that is relevant, credible, and practical. Again, promotions and specials designed to meet those common consumer needs can provide a significant SEO boost. It’s also worth remembering a few technical considerations to ensure your optimized content is performing as well as it possibly can: it should load quickly (not slowed down by images or other media), it should be mobile-friendly, internally-linked to other parts of your site, and, ideally, should feature a short URL (60 characters or less).
What’s the key takeaway here for dealers? Simply put, if you’re putting your SEO and content marketing efforts in silos rather than pursuing an integrated strategy, don’t be surprised when neither strategy lives up to its full potential. Content marketing lives and dies by its ability to successfully weave key SEO features into its implementation; likewise, effective SEO must have quality content to work with if you’re going to leverage keywords and links in a way that drives site traffic. To think of your marketing with these two disconnected from one another is akin to working on a puzzle without all the pieces. Look at optimizing your content now, and realize the full benefits of a match made in marketing heaven.
Author: Chris Walsh
Chris Walsh is Vice President of Sales at Naked Lime Marketing. His knowledge of market strategy, competitive analysis, and the sales process fueled his success in previous positions with the company, including regional sales director and vice president of business development. Walsh holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Ohio University.