Wednesday, May 22, 2024

SEO for Automotive Businesses: Driving Sales and Service Leads

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For auto dealers, the goal of search engine optimization is to get to the first page of search results, as statistics show most people never look past the first page of results. A study by Doubleclick revealed that the first ranking position in Google receives a 21% average click-through rate (CTR). The second position receives 10% and the traffic only degrades from there. On average, the first page of search results receives 91.5% of Google traffic, with the first three positions receiving over 50% on average. These are very compelling statistics which show that securing a high rank in search engine results can prove to be a very cost-efficient way to market your automotive business.

The vast majority of automotive purchases begin with a search engine. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of all vehicle purchases are initiated by a search query. This is a staggeringly high figure, one that confirms just how important search engine ranking is to car dealers. This figure is also reflected in a recent J.D Power and Associates study, which found that 62% of vehicle buyers in the US visited a search engine during the vehicle shopping process. The most commonly punched in search terms are the brand of vehicle the customer is considering, and more importantly terms such as “best car deals” and “buy new car”. The majority of automotive searches are for very specific vehicle information. According to a comScore/Media Metrix study, automotive-related searches are among the most popular searches currently performed online. Prices, specifications, and feature information are just some examples of the types of information sought after.

Importance of SEO for Automotive Businesses

SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of building, designing, and fine-tuning your website to maximize the chance of appearing at the top of search engine results. The objective of this process is to increase the volume of traffic coming to your website from search engines. Automotive businesses need this more than most; in this digital age, the competition for sales and leads online is incredibly fierce. The latest data from Google shows that as many as 70% of buyers in the automotive industry now begin their journey to a purchase online. With this many potential customers using search engines to find information relating to their purchase, SEO is absolutely critical to capture sales and service leads. Whether you are a franchise or an independent trader, the evidence is that people use the web to search for car dealers and auto service providers. SEO service has proven to be a major lead driver in both B2C and B2B markets. According to inbound marketing data, SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound marketing leads have a 1.7% close rate. With time, the close rate is far higher. It’s no wonder that businesses are devoting more of their marketing budget to SEO. It may have been the case in the industry of late that a decent stock of cars and a friendly sales team was enough to meet sales targets. This is no longer a reality. If you have a punter not fully convinced by the staff at your car yard, they will now go home and research to find the best possible deal. This means creating another lead for you. If they have so much as entered the make and model of the car you discussed into a search engine, you are going to want your website to be at the top of those results. Because if they find a better deal elsewhere while comparing the price on your website page with another dealer, you will have lost that customer. A study from the marketing Sherpa showed that 57% of B2B marketers stated that SEO was generating more leads than any other marketing initiative. With clear evidence that online sales and price comparison leads are the most common type in today’s market, the necessity of good SEO for automotive businesses becomes clear.

Optimizing Website Content

It’s important to place keywords in the correct areas of your web page. The higher up on the page and the more to the left a word is, the more weight and importance the search engine will place on this word. Title tags and header tags are the best place to start. It’s important to make sure that each page of your website has a unique title tag that is less than 70 characters, as the title tag is what will appear as your link in a search engine. The header tags (H1, H2, H3) should also be given special attention, as they carry more weight than the normal body text. However, be careful not to alter the design aspects of your website by making these keywords too large or bold.

Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. It is recommended to aim for a keyword density of 2-8% and no more, as this may be seen as keyword spamming and can result in your website being penalized by the search engines.

Once you have decided on a set of keywords, it is crucial to implement these into the content of your website. Keyword implementation or on-page SEO is the process of optimizing the copy and HTML on your website to make it search engine friendly. This is best done when implemented into a new website, but can still be effective when added to or revamped into an existing website.

The research and implementation of relevant keywords is crucial to reaching your customers. Keyword research is the process of finding the right key phrases that a potential customer would type into a search engine before making a purchase. This will help the customer find exactly what they are looking for. Taking the time to sit down and brainstorm what your typical customers would be searching for is a simple effective way to start. The use of free tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool or Wordtracker can help you to broaden your keyword list and find which keywords are the most popular. This can help you decide which keywords to target.

Understand that success in the automotive industry is driven by reaching your customers when they are ready to make a purchase. With the evolution of the internet, customers are bombarded with options in today’s automotive market. Many still turn to search engines to do their research prior to making a purchase. This is where your dealership has the chance to capture the customer’s interest and make a sale. But to be effective in reaching your target audience and increasing sales, you must take the necessary steps to optimize your website in search engines. This will give you the chance to be on the same research platform as your potential customer.

Keyword Research and Implementation

A consideration for which keywords to target for each individual page is also important. Assigning a target keyword to a specific page will give the page the best chance to rank. From this keyword, an additional 5-10 related keywords should be generated as subtopics. The specific use of these keywords will vary. For example, a blog post page can use the related keywords as H2 tags to create a cohesive and semantic article, whereas a product page can use these keywords as partial match anchor text backlinks.

Now that priority products have been identified and indexed, there is a need to know which keywords to target on SEO. Keywords should be considered by how achievable they are with current levels of domain authority & page authority. Assigning a difficulty level to target keywords will give you a goal to achieve and using current indexed index/data a projection can be made which is the ROI for targeting certain keywords. SEO ROI can be calculated by assigning an estimated value to page traffic and the probability of a desired action occurring from that traffic (sale, newsletter signup).

Creating Relevant and Engaging Content

When writing content for a web page, dealers should consider the words customers are likely to use when searching for the types of vehicles available at their dealership. Using general terms such as “SUV” or “minivan” might not be enough. It is best to get a comprehensive list of vehicle types sold by the dealership and the brands for each type. If a dealer sells used cars, it is best to indicate the brand using terms such as “Toyota used cars” or “Toyota pre-owned cars”. These specific terms are more likely to bring qualified buyers to a dealer’s website. A free keyword suggestion tool offered by Google can help determine which keywords are most effective in generating traffic. Ideally, a dealer should select 15-20 keywords that are not too competitive. There are some questionable marketing firms on the web which might use automatic software to click on the dealer’s ads. This will ratchet up search engines ad spend and give the dealer no results. A sign of a good firm is that they will inform a dealer much of the click fraud and whether it is being used or not. The targeted keywords should be monitored at least once a week and updated as necessary. The right keywords alone may not guarantee a high ranking. It is best to write content with the keyword goals in mind. Writing without considering SEO can sometimes lead to a focus on irrelevant topics. Skilled writers should keep the keyword list in mind and consider optimal keyword density whilst avoiding too much repetition. A good goal may be about 300-500 words per page and 2-3% keyword density. A focus on brevity is often best for internet content and the vast amount of information available allows customers to read in depth on specific vehicles if they are enticed to do so. The length and keyword goals for pages in specific areas of a site can be planned using a spreadsheet. Dealers should also consider hiring a copywriter, as this task can often be daunting for non-writers and the results will likely be of higher quality.

Optimizing Meta Tags and Descriptions

As a business, the main goal of your web pages is to make sales, whether it be directly with an online shopper or to generate a sales lead. You will have a much better chance to sell/convert your product if the visitor comes to your site from a search that is looking for your product rather than a visitor who was looking for something else. This is where the keywords you have selected will make a big difference to the type of visitor you get to your site from search engines. If a user searches a broad keyword and comes across a page that is about a specific product, the user will just leave the page and keep searching for what he wants. If a user searches a specific keyword and comes across a page that is about that specific product, then he is more likely to be a potential buyer. This is why it is important to optimize each page of your site with relevant meta data.

Meta tag and meta description optimization is usually related to one specific area in an SEO campaign, to increase the click-through rate from a search engine results page (SERP) to your website. When your webpage appears in the search engine results pages, the meta description and meta tag will be the first elements search users will read to get a snapshot of what your page is all about. The meta title is also what search engines often use as the title of your listing.

Technical SEO for Automotive Websites

Mobile optimization has quickly evolved from being an add-on or afterthought to a crucial part of Search Engine Optimization. With Google’s announcing their mobile-first index, it’s safe to say that mobile optimization isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This is especially important in the automotive industry as there are often varying differences between desktop and mobile versions of dealership websites. With over 51% of car shoppers stating that they used a smartphone for automotive research, it’s become critical that websites are mobile-friendly. Key points to focus on when optimizing a site for mobile are making sure that website content is the same on both mobile and desktop versions and ensuring that structured data is present and relevant to the mobile version of the site. It’s also important to consider what type of mobile site you have. Responsive and dynamic serving sites often rank better than mobile sites with an “m.” version URL due to the consolidated authority of having a single site/domain. However, in some cases where content on the mobile site is significantly different from the desktop version, it may be recommended to have a separate mobile site with its own URL as to not damage Google rankings for the desktop version of the site. Overall, regardless of which type of mobile site you have, it’s important to ensure that mobile URLs are verified within the Google Search Console and that the mobile site contains the same metadata as the desktop site. Step by step instructions for mobile site add an “m.” to URL verification and other information can be found at Google’s Steps to a Google Friendly Site.

Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization has become an increasingly essential factor in both organic search ranking and search visibility. The Google search algorithm update released on April 21, 2015 places mobile optimization as a crucial element in serving mobile-friendly sites to searchers. Considering that 20-25% of all traffic and 30% of organic traffic comes from mobile devices, this is a needed component of any website. In most cases, this includes when a smartphone user conducts a search, there will be an outcome where Google labels your site as mobile-friendly. This label will also say if a given page is not mobile-friendly. This is just another reason to make sure your pages are optimized for mobile. This update is a more significant update for search than Google’s previous releases named Google Panda and Google Penguin. Another reason mobile optimization is important is that mobile users take on a quite different approach in looking for information from desktop users, and you must modify and optimize your content to appraise these different intentions. The nature of mobile devices is oriented around convenience and urgency. Users are seeking immediate information while they are on the go or at a particular location. This applies heavily to automotive businesses as people may need a mechanic urgently or may be comparison pricing for a specific repair that they need to address as soon as possible. With the rise in smartphone use, a new culture of urgency, and micro-moments, has initiated in the search behavior of mobile users. Modifications to Google’s algorithms reflect these intentions and may put your site at a disadvantage. Having a clear understanding of how these changes affect mobile search behavior can enable you to better optimize your site to appeal to these different users.

Site Speed and Performance

In differentiating automotive websites in competitive national and local markets, it is becoming more and more difficult to achieve 1st page rankings in search engines with new car dealers or independent local providers of car service and repair. To make matters worse, search engine rankings are often influenced by recent changes to algorithms and the change from an HTML-based structured data approach to an XML-based approach has taken the opportunity away from many smaller business owners to be able to extend their search listing into what would be considered the most valuable real estate on any search engine results page: the 1st page. Now, local listings and national providers take up a majority of the space on the first page with standard text results. For those that are accustomed to regular internet usage, it is commonly understood that if the information they are seeking is not found on the 1st page of search results, a new search using different terminology is conducted. SEO for automotive websites that wish to continue to be successful must now, more than ever, concentrate on achieving and maintaining high search rankings in an ever-growing and changing field. With the current economic downturn and belt tightening of businesses and consumers alike, internet search rankings will play an important role in the success or failure of sales and service-based businesses in the automotive sector. Any decrease in website traffic driven from search results will directly lead to lost sales and service opportunities for those in the automotive business.

URL Structure and Navigation

URLs should be descriptive and accurately reflect the content on that particular page. URL structure and navigation play a vital role in providing the best and most efficient way to improve your website’s usability. A good URL structure is extremely crucial for success in link building. An effective URL structure can help search engine spiders to index your website in the most efficient way possible. This will not only help improve your search engine ranking, but it will also allow you to get your entire website indexed. With a good URL structure, your website’s visitors will also be able to remember and manually type the URLs. This is because a good URL is often reflective of the page’s specific content. High usability and efficiency with your site’s visitors can often lead to increased sales and service leads as well. Static URLs are also more meaningful, containing targeted keywords to help improve search engine ranking. This is in contrast to dynamic query strings that are utilized by databases, which is extremely difficult for search engines to index. If your website is already established with URLs that are not search engine or user-friendly, I highly recommend that you take the time to change this. Step one is to consult with NetSource Technologies, a leader in web design, hosting, and online marketing solutions for the automotive industry. If you are currently considering redesigning your website, it is essential that you take URL structure into consideration. Many companies often fail to do this and realize that they have made a critical mistake once their new website is launched. With these tips in mind, you will find that search engine rankings will likely improve, and more importantly, your website will be able to retain and acquire an increased level of potential customers.

Off-Page SEO Strategies

At AutomotiveService, we offer comprehensive link building campaigns that focus on ethical methods to increase your search engine ranking. With many years of SEO experience and a strong team of SEO professionals, we ensure that the links we build for you are of the highest quality and are guaranteed to be formed on a relevant automotive industry website. We aim to increase traffic to your website and improve your search engine ranking, and our methods are proven to be successful. If you are interested in building your backlinks, then please refer to our link building service page for more information.

One of the key off-page SEO methods is building high-quality backlinks. The more high-quality backlinks that you have, the more authority that your website will have, thus resulting in a higher search engine ranking. In terms of the automotive industry, there are many effective ways to build backlinks. The first and most effective method is to gain backlinks from automotive manufacturer websites. This can be done by offering a link exchange with the manufacturer, a paid text link, or just writing some news or a strong article and asking for a link back in return. The second method is to submit your website to automotive directories. These are easy to find, simply use Google search and type in ‘automotive directories’ or a similar keyword, and you will find many different directories to submit to. A third and a little more expensive method is to gain backlinks by advertising your website with AdWords or banner advertisements. Alternatively, you can use SEO to build backlinks by looking for websites with advertising space and buying a text link. This can be cheaper and more effective than AdWords and banner ads.

Building High-Quality Backlinks

Backlinks are basically any link from another site which leads to your own. When a search engine is indexing a website, it considers things such as how often the content is updated, how much traffic the site gets, and most importantly how many other sites on the same or similar subjects are linking to that site. This is because a backlink is essentially an endorsement of a site. If a site dedicated to car parts were to get a backlink from the official blog of a car manufacturer, a search engine would figure that the car parts site is a good source of information on the cars made by that manufacturer. Using this logic a site can greatly increase its rank through backlinks, by getting them from high traffic sites and sites closely related to the subject of the site in question. Unfortunately, it might not always be possible to acquire backlinks from such sites without some form of monetary transaction, if at all. An example of a good way to obtain a backlink would be if you happen to know the owner of another automotive site, you could offer a content trade, that is to say each of you write an article for the other’s site in exchange for a backlink.

A good way to start getting traffic to your site would be to use the method of search engine optimization, commonly known as SEO. The whole point of SEO is to get your site higher up on the search engine results through using keywords, and to manipulate the search engines result through keywords to your advantage. While the tactics used in doing so might be considered underhanded to some, the end result is using the higher rank to drive more traffic into your site. Unfortunately, ranking your site for a search term is rather difficult today compared to the SEO Gold Rush in the early 2000’s, the internet is more heavily saturated with sites, and Google changes its search engine logic every now and then so no one can try to manipulate results. While getting your site to rank higher for search terms closely related to what your site might be offering may be difficult, another guaranteed way to get your site high up on the search engine results is through backlinks.

Social Media Marketing for Automotive Businesses

But it’s about putting your product or service on top of their mind and ensuring that your brand is the one that is familiar and has a good reputation. This is about brand awareness and brand loyalty, and there are some fairly straightforward ways to explain how social media marketing can achieve this for the automotive industry.

Now, with social media, it’s the first time in history that the behavior of consumers can be identified and translated into measurable data. With more and more businesses, including automotive dealers, taking advantage of the social platforms, consumers have more choices on who to do business with. With all the media and advertising inundating the consumer environment, it is the recommendations from closely knit communities on which ones to try and which to stay clear of that will have the most influence on their purchasing decisions.

Consumers have always had a strong influence on other consumers. Whether those other consumers were neighbors, friends, family, or associates, the fact is that the only brand that people trusted was in-person recommendations. It tasted and stood the same way for all of the 20th century. Many companies utilized referral marketing, using highly successful customer referral programs to increase sales by offering consumers a bonus or discount for each new customer they could refer. In fact, this still exists today. But, in spite of heavy media bombardment, the powerful force of consumer-to-consumer influence has remained somewhat intangible.

Social media marketing is a growing component of off-page SEO and is almost required in today’s marketplace for car dealerships and automotive businesses. While there is a lot of confusion among auto dealers about how to go about it or whether it is effective, the benefits of utilizing social media marketing are evident in the variety of companies that use it and are increasing their brand and customer loyalty.

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