Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a concept you may have heard your marketing team discuss or throw around. As a dealership owner, you have a lot on your plate, so it makes sense you may have left this for your marketing team to deal with. However, it is critical that you as well as your other functional departments understand its importance and how you can work with your marketing team to harness and utilize its power. Before we get into the actual steps of how to use SEO, let’s first discuss what it is and how it works.
What is SEO? According to Moz, SEO is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” In layman’s terms, SEO is the practice of making your website visible on search engines sites like Google for customers to visit. This action typically happens through the keywords you use on your website. For instance, a search engine like Google has virtual bots called crawlers that go out onto the internet to gather information on the various type of content.
The bots then bring all the data back to build a virtual index of all the topics on the internet. The index is then delivered through a code or algorithm that matches all the data with a customer’s search.
The Optimization component of SEO is what marketers have control over. Optimizing your website to be found on search engines can happen by using relevant keywords in your title tags meta descriptions, and content. Your usage of terms that relate to your car dealership can help you show up a lot sooner on search engines when customers are searching for you.
SEO’s Importance to Bringing in Sales
SEO rules can be applied to a lot of different search engines, but Google is the largest in this sphere, so their standards are the ones most marketers follow. To increase your rankings on search engines, Google advises you to:
- Include contact information to establish credibility.
- Routinely add new content.
- Obtain inbound links.
- Use header and alt tags.
- Add relevant keywords throughout your web content and blogs.
These tactics not only tell Google you are an established dealership that should be included on search engines, but they also say the same things to consumers, making them more likely to visit your site and set in motion the purchasing process. The goal is to put yourself in front of as many customers as possible, and there is no better place to do this than creating your own real estate on the internet. Take a look at these stats from AutoTrader’s 2016 Car Buyer Journey Study:
- Car buyers spend an average of 14 hours searching for vehicles during the purchasing process.
- 78 percent of car buyers use third-party sites to research vehicles and 57 percent visit dealership sites.
- 71 percent of car buyers are researching car prices online.
Customers are carrying out much of the car buying process online, and SEO can help you ensure your website is highly ranked for them to see it.
Who Needs to Know How This Works?
While your marketing team needs to know the technical ins and outs of how SEO works, it is vital that any department that has interactions with customers understand how SEO works. For example, the F&I department may contribute copy for the marketing team to use on the website.
However, this copy may not be optimized for search engine ranking. Are F&I staff paying attention to keywords that relate to F&I products? Is the content organized in a way that is easy for customers to read and digest? Do they use additional content like videos or photos to set themselves apart from other dealerships? You can apply these questions to many of the other functional departments within your business. When your marketing team receives website copy, it needs to help your site rank for specific keywords.
The Benefits of SEO for your Dealership
By tailoring your content to be SEO-friendly, you are not only making it easy for customers to find you, but you are also producing engaging and easy-to-read content:
- Putting together short and concise blog posts that help your customers in their car buying efforts.
- It will prompt you to encourage other sites to list your dealership to increase the amount of referral traffic you get.
- It is more affordable to implement SEO practices then run paid ads. In turn, this will likely lead to a better ROI.
- Your dealership is likely in a better position to perform against your competitors.
- Your site will probably be easier to navigate.
- You can increase your reputation among customers.
This is not an exhaustive list of the benefits of implementing SEO. Understanding how important it is for your online presence is essential. Your website is a critical piece of marketing, and if no one can see it, then it will be challenging to use it to push conversions. So, next time you hear your marketing team discussing SEO, take a moment to sit with them and tell them what you know. Ask if you can help contribute any content that will make it more personalized and attractive to your customers. Implementing SEO is not an overnight fix, but if you and your team keep with it, you may soon find yourself outranking the competition.