Is traditional SEO dead for car dealer marketers? The answer is both yes and no. Gone are the days of keyword spamming and all-out link building. SEO has evolved as Google’s algorithms and search behavior has evolved.
Traditional SEO can and does still work for dealerships, but it takes patience, expertise, and a knowledge of how search engines work.
It may mean investing months of time and energy optimizing your web presence to see some organic results that usually sit below paid Google Ads, video results, and other information competing for the user’s attention. This is due not only to Google algorithm updates but also to the other major change that has occurred in recent years: the revamp of Google’s search results page.
It used to be that on a Google search results page you would see organic text-only rankings with the only competition being the occasional PPC ad that appeared at the top. Nowadays the first page of Google has a lot more going on – and what it looks like all depends on your specific search query. Besides the traditional organic search results, you see Google Ads, video results, images, shopping results, Google My Business pages, Related Questions, and more.
This means, that in order to rank on Google, your car dealer SEO strategy needs to have evolved so you’re showing up in all these places when it counts.
In this post, we’ll explore:
- Why SEO is still crucial for car dealer marketing.
- 3 ways to improve your car dealer SEO strategy in 2021.
- The benefits of improving your SEO strategy.
Why SEO Is Still Important for Successful Dealership Marketing
According to one study, organic traffic is responsible for more than 51% of all traffic to websites, more than any other source such as paid (14%) and social (5%) traffic.
Here are some major reasons SEO is still a crucial marketing strategy for car dealerships:
People use Google to find local car dealers.
People use Google when they are looking to buy products or services. For most people, Google is the starting point to look for information, products, or services when they need them.
And, organic local results are critical. In fact, 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.
People searching for your products and services have high intent.
SEO drives people to your website and can increase sales.
Ranking on Google helps you drive more customers to your site. Being ranked #1 gets around 21% of clicks, with #2 and #3 with about 10% and 7.5% respectively. So, ranking high is critical in growing your dealership’s organic traffic.
Once you get people to your website, you have a higher chance of converting them into customers — as long as your website is optimized for conversions!
Car dealer SEO is cost-effective.
The long-term benefits of SEO make it more cost-effective. Once you’re performing well in search results, you can enjoy being on the first page for a long time — assuming you (or Google!) don’t make major changes.
3 Ways to Adjust Your Automotive SEO Strategy for Today’s Searchers
As you can see, SEO is still very important. However, with the revamped Google search results page, you have to adjust your SEO strategy and target your SEO efforts based on how Google prioritizes the first page results.
Utilizing a three-pronged SEO strategy that includes video SEO, video sitemaps, and Google My Business posts can help you be more competitive with your SEO campaign.
We are going to look into how this three-pronged SEO strategy can be used by an automotive dealer to help drive traffic to their website.
1. Focus on Your Car Dealer Video SEO
Videos in Google search results appear for certain keywords when Google determines video would be useful for that particular search term. As illustrated below, this is the case when a consumer is searching for a vehicle they are in looking to get more information on or to buy.
In the example above, you can see how video results are shown above traditional organic search results on the first page. As mentioned previously, being ranked on top of the search results page pays big dividends in terms of organic traffic.
Google recently changed how they show video results. Instead of a carousel, you now have a list of results showing only a handful of video results. When clicking on the “View all” link the user is taken to the “Videos” tab where more video results are shown. This is important because now the video tab will get more traffic due to this recent change.
If you look more closely at these video results, you may notice that all the video results are showing YouTube videos. That is no accident. Google does own YouTube after all.
Here are some things you should do to create optimized YouTube videos for your automotive business:
Optimize Your Video Script
Google can extract some limited meaning from the audio and video of the file. It is therefore important to have a descriptive voiceover to describe the vehicle. When you have auto-generated closed captioning that’s easy to read, you can confirm that there is a clear and descriptive voiceover.
Optimize Your Metadata
Include your primary keyword in your title and description. In this case, the year, make, and model of the vehicle.
Also, we find that adding a detailed description in the video helps with the ranking, especially for long-tail searches such as “Honda Accord heated seats.”
Create an Enticing Thumbnail
Don’t use the auto-generated thumbnail by YouTube that usually only shows the interior shot of the car. Instead, grab an exterior shot of the vehicle to use as the thumbnail. It is much more engaging.
2. Pay Attention to Video Sitemaps
Google officially encouraged websites to use schema for videos to help Googlebot index your videos on your website.
In order to rank your video in search results, Google must understand something about the video. Google can extract information about a video in the following ways:
- Google can crawl the video and extract a thumbnail and preview.
- Google can extract information from the page hosting the video, including the page text and meta tags.
- Google can use structured data such as a video sitemap associated with the video.
Google provides its own detailed guide on how to set up a video sitemap for your site.
Once a sitemap is set up properly, Googlebot will be able to crawl and index the videos on your site and the results can be amazing! Here’s an example of a first-page video search result that links directly to a dealer’s website and not to YouTube.
However, these direct to website video results only appear on the video tab and not on the All tab on Google. Google is still favoring showing YouTube video results on the main results page.
3. Use Google My Business Posts to Capture Local Search Traffic
Now that you’re able to optimize your YouTube videos and the videos on your website for first page results, the third component in this approach is to capture local searchers through your dealership’s Google My Business (GMB) page. If you’re a business, Google will automatically show on the right-side information about the business establishment such as hours of operations, address, and contact info. If you’re the owner of the business or an authorized representative, you can claim the GMB listing shown for your company.
Your dealership’s Google My Business page can capture a great deal of local traffic. People searching for a business name are looking to contact the store in one form or another. Like a physical store, the GMB page is the virtual storefront for your business. Google also allows you to post information about your product on your GMB.
In our example, an automotive dealer can post a few vehicles to showcase on their GMB page similar to parking a few cars in front of the storefront to attract foot traffic.
Using the GMB dashboard, the business owner can easily make these posts. GMB allows you to upload videos as well as photos when creating these posts.
These Google My Business posts get hundreds of views within days of being posted, proving that you have to leverage your GMB page as much as possible to help draw traffic to your website.
Final Tips for a Successful 2021 Car Dealer SEO Strategy
So here you have it. SEO is not dead, but the old SEO techniques are! Today’s Google search results page is extremely dynamic and provides a lot of information to the user.
It’s important to remember that:
- Video gets priority real estate over traditional organic results for search terms that warrant video results. In our example, Google deems video results to be important when searching for cars.
- A business’s Google My Business page is shown prominently when users search for a particular business.
- Google is smarter and more sophisticated now. It has gotten better at distinguishing between high-quality content from poorly optimized content.
You will need to use new optimization methods in order to take advantage of the ongoing changes Google makes to its algorithm, as well as the changes Google makes to the visual aspect of the search results page.
Using the techniques described in this article will allow you to take advantage of how Google works today to improve your car dealer SEO. Start today and invest in video SEO and Google My Business page to get long-term, reliable traffic that will lead to more sales and loyal customers!
About the Author
Philip Ly is the CEO and founder of I Do Stream LLC, DBA LiveEventStream Automotive (LESA), and has an extensive background in managing and developing successful businesses within the internet industry. Philip has held positions at IBM as a Senior IT Specialist and was an SAP Consultant at Hewlett-Packard. In addition, he has started and operated several successful internet businesses including a live webcast service and platform for weddings and corporate events.