SEO for Car Dealerships

A simple (but effective) step-by-step guide to build a targeted SEO marketing strategy for your car dealership.

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A Step-by-Step Car Dealership SEO Guide

Are you ready to attract more customers to your car dealership through organic search? Keep reading to learn how a targeted SEO automotive marketing strategy can help you get found by potential car buyers online.

In this guide you will learn:

Chapter 1
Intro to SEO

Chapter 2
Keyword Research

Chapter 3
On-Page SEO

Chapter 4
Off-Page SEO

Chapter 5
Best Practices

Chapter 6
FAQs & Resources

Chapter 1 – Introduction to SEO

In this section, you will learn what SEO is, how search engines work and how SEO can help you get more car buyers.

What is SEO for car dealerships?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website or web page to increase its visibility in search engines, like Google and Bing.

SEO is an important factor for car dealerships looking to attract more customers, as the higher a website appears in Google, the greater the chance a potential buyer clicks through to your website.

Think of it like vehicle maintenance for your website.

Just as vehicle maintenance involves keeping your car in top shape, SEO involves ensuring your website is ‘healthy’ and easily discoverable by search engines. This way, you can drive more traffic to your site and attract potential car buyers.

Did you know?

  • 99% of people use the internet to search for local businesses. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • Consumer use of Google to evaluate local businesses has leapt from 63% in 2020 to 81% in 2021. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • Mobile devices are used for over 50% of all online searches. (Source: Statista)

A person searching for a car dealership on Google may use a search query like “car dealership near me” or “best car dealership in [city name]”.

They may search for specific car brands or models such as “Ford dealership” or “Honda Civic dealership”. Or they may even include additional criteria in the search query such as “used car dealership in [city name]” or “car dealership with financing options”.

To benefit from SEO, you want your car dealership website to rank for these types of searches. By optimizing your website with relevant keywords and providing valuable content, you increase the likelihood of appearing in search results and attracting potential car buyers.

Why is car dealership SEO important?

Here are some of the benefits of using SEO for your car dealership:

  • Increased visibility: SEO helps to increase the visibility of a car dealership’s website on search engines, making it more likely that potential customers will find you when searching for car sales or services.
  • Cost-effective: Compared to traditional advertising methods like print or television, SEO can be a cost-effective way for a car dealership to reach new customers.
  • Targeted audience: SEO allows a car dealership to target specific keywords that align with their inventory, services, and offerings.
  • Local SEO: Local SEO helps increase a website’s visibility for people searching within a specific geographic location. This can be particularly beneficial for car dealerships as it allows them to target people searching for vehicles in their local area.
  • Building trust: SEO can help a car dealership’s website to establish trust and authority with search engines and potential customers by providing high-quality, relevant content. This can also help to attract new customers and build a strong reputation in the community.

Don’t forget!

Car dealerships have to comply with various regulations such as those imposed by the FTC, DMV, and state-specific laws. So, it’s important that the SEO strategies and tactics used by them are compliant with these regulations.

How do search engines work?

Search engines work by crawling billions of webpages with their own web crawlers, known as search engine bots or spiders. These are then stored and saved in an index.

Google Search Essentials (formerly Webmaster Guidelines)

The Google Search Essentials define the actions that webmasters can take to make their websites better indexable or crawlable.

Read them here: Official Google Guidelines

The guidelines are based on three central aspects:

  1. Crawling – webmasters should support Google in finding websites.
  2. Indexing – webmasters should help Google to classify and “recognize” the content.
  3. Usability and user experience – webmasters should support the users of the websites in their use (usability and user experience).

Essentially, according to these Google guidelines,  a website should support the search engine in crawling and indexing and ensure a good user experience. 

Before you get started with SEO, there are a few prerequisites you want to check off first:

SEO Basics

At a bare minimum, you want to make sure you cover these basic standards before embarking on doing SEO:

  • Website Speed – Have a fast loading site so potential customers don’t get tired of waiting for things to load.
  • Mobile Friendliness – Make sure your site works on mobile as over 50% of users browse on mobile devices
  • Analytics – Setup Google Analytics, Google Search Console & so you can understand what is and isn’t working.
  • XML Sitemap – search engines use this to get your site’s URLs
  • Robots.txt – tells search engine crawlers where they can (and where they can’t go) on your site.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the process of making website and server optimizations to help search engines to crawl and index your site more effectively (and therefore help to improve organic rankings).

Technical errors can hurt a website’s ability to rank. There are potentially a lot of errors, but here are some of the most common that will have the biggest impact when fixed:

  • 404 errors
  • Broken backlinks
  • Poor URL structure
  • Duplicate/thin content
  • Poor internal linking
  • Poor website architecture
  • Missing metadata (page titles & meta descriptions)
  • Missing H1 tags

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Chapter 2 – Keyword Research

In this section, you will learn what keywords to target and how to do keyword research for your car dealership.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying the words and phrases that people use when searching for specific products or services:

Once you understand the keywords your target audience is using, you can optimize your website to appear for these in search results.

Think of it like a diagnostic test for your website. Just as a diagnostic test helps a mechanic to understand what is happening inside a car’s engine, keyword research helps you to understand what people are searching for online when they are looking for car sales or services.

This information can be used to optimize your website, so that it appears higher in search results when people search for those keywords. This way you can attract more customers who are searching for the vehicles or services you offer.

Why is keyword research important?

Keyword research is important for car dealerships because it helps to:

  • Understand what people are searching for when they are looking for cars or dealership services, and to optimize their website accordingly.
  • Identify the specific needs and preferences of their target audience, which can inform the content they create and vehicles or services they offer, ultimately leading to more conversions and a better customer experience.
  • Identify the competition in the local area and understand what they are doing, so they can create a more effective SEO strategy.

What keywords are best to target?

Understand that there’s no “best” keywords, just those that are highly searched by your audience. With this in mind, it’s up to you to craft a strategy that will help you rank pages and drive traffic.

The best keywords for your SEO strategy will take into account relevance, authority, and volume. You want to find highly searched keywords that you can reasonably compete for based on:

  • The level of competition you’re up against.
  • Your ability to produce content that exceeds in quality what’s currently ranking.
<strong>Short-tail & Long-tail Keywords Explained:</strong>

Short tail keywords are broad, general keywords that are made up of one or two words:

  • Car dealership
  • Used cars
  • New vehicles
  • Auto financing
  • Car service

Whereas long tail keywords are more specific and longer phrases that are made up of multiple words:

  • Cost of used Honda Civic
  • Electric vehicle options
  • Family-friendly SUVs near me
  • Emergency car repair services
  • Ford Mustang leasing options

How to do keyword research for your car dealership

To start keyword research: put yourself in your customers shoes.

What words, phrases and terms might they use in order to find solutions to these problems? These are the keywords you want to find and target.

Here is a simple process to follow:

Step 1) Make a list of broad topics

Create a list of general topics related to your business. These might correspond to product categories, services or anything you believe your target audience would be interested in.

For example, broad topics like:

  • SUVs
  • Sedans
  • Financing
  • Used Cars
  • Auto Repair

Step 2) Expand topics into a list of phrases

Now you want to take those topics and expand them into a list of related phrases to target.

Imagine yourself as a buyer looking for your product or service and ask yourself: what would I type into Google?

Whilst keyword research tools are useful here, you can do this for free by Googling your keyword.

For example, Google “Used Cars” and you’ll get a list of related questions people ask (which you can answer with blog content):

As well as related searches which may uncover other keywords to target:

Step 3) Analyze your keywords

Once you have a list of potential keywords, you need to gauge which terms are worth targeting.

You’ll need to use a keyword research tool here to pay attention to the following keyword metrics:

  • Search volume
  • Trends
  • Search value over time
  • Difficulty
  • CPC
  • SERP features

But most importantly, you want to consider relevancy and search intent:

Relevant keywords:

For relevancy, you want to ask yourself:

  • Are these keywords relevant to my business?
  • Do I have a chance of ranking for these terms based on the competition?
  • Is ranking for these keywords going to have a positive ROI?

If you can answer YES to the above questions, chances are you have picked a relevant keyword

Search intent:

Search intent is the goal and purpose of a search query in Google. When someone searches for something, they are typically looking for more information before performing an action.

Search intent falls in four buckets:

  • Informational – Searchers looking for information, they’ll use words like: how, what, why, when etc.
  • Navigational – Searchers trying to find a specific site, they’ll use words relating to the service/product/brand
  • Transactional – Searchers looking to purchase, they’ll use words like: buy, cost, pricing, cheap etc.
  • Commercial investigation – Searchers researching prior to making a purchase, they’ll use words like: best, review, comparison etc

Not only is it important to select good keywords, but also to pick keywords you have a chance of ranking for.

For example, if you want to rank for the keyword: “Car Maintenance Checklist” but your page doesn’t feature a checklist, you are not meeting a searchers intent so may struggle to rank for it.

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Chapter 3 – On-Page SEO

In this section, you will learn what on-page SEO is and how to optimize your car dealer website.

What is on-page SEO?

On-page SEO describes specific elements of the pages on your website that you control, such as:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Header tags
  • Internal linking
  • Images
  • Content

Why is on-page SEO important?

On-page SEO is important for car dealerships because it helps to ensure that their website is easily found and understood by search engines, which can increase visibility and drive more traffic to the website. This can ultimately lead to more customers for the dealership.

For example, if a dealership offers a model called “Ford Mustang” and that model is not mentioned on the website or not prominently mentioned, it will be less likely for the website to appear in the search results when someone searches for “Ford Mustang” or related terms. On the other hand, if the dealership has optimized its website with the model “Ford Mustang” as a focus keyword, it will be more likely to appear in the search results when someone searches for that term, and hence, more likely to attract customers looking for that model.

Additionally, on-page optimization can also help to improve the overall user experience of a website, which can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates. For example, having a well-organized and easy-to-navigate website with clear calls to action such as “Schedule a Test Drive” will be more likely to convert visitors into customers.

On-Page SEO Checklist

<strong>On-Page SEO Checklist</strong>

  1. Use short & descriptive URLs – this helps people searching to understand what your page is about in Google.
  2. Write a good title tag & meta description – these show up in Google and help searchers understand what your page is about.
  3. Linking to relevant resources – this helps users to navigate your website.
  4. Optimize your images – give them a descriptive filename and alt text.
  5. Add schema markup – this helps search engines to understand your content
  6. Add internal links – these help Google understand what your page is about and to navigate your website.

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Chapter 4 – Off-Page SEO

In this section, you will learn what off-page SEO is, why link building is important and how to get high-quality backlinks.

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO refers to specific actions done outside of your website, such as getting backlinks from other websites or social media.

What is link building?

Link building is the practice of building one-way hyperlinks (also known as “backlinks”) to a website with the goal of improving SEO. Common link building strategies include content marketing, building useful tools, email outreach, broken link building and guest posts.

Why is link building important?

Link building is important for car dealerships because it helps to increase the visibility of a website on search engines. Google, for example, uses links to a website as a way to determine the authority and trustworthiness of a website.

The more high-quality links that point to a website, the more likely it is to be considered an authority in its field and be given higher rankings in the SERPs (search engine results page).

This increased visibility can drive more traffic to a website, which can lead to more customers for the car dealership.

Link Building Tactics:

Additionally, link building can also help to establish a car dealership as a reputable and trustworthy provider of vehicle sales and services, which can be a key factor in attracting new customers. High-quality links from reputable websites in the automotive industry can be an indication to potential customers that a dealership is well-respected in the field.

Link building can also help to increase the referral traffic to a website, where visitors are directed to the website through a link on another website. This can help to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences who may not have otherwise found the website.

In summary, link building is important for car dealerships because it helps to increase visibility, establish reputation and trust, and drive more referral traffic to their website, which can lead to more customers.

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Chapter 5 – Best Practices

In this section, you will learn automotive SEO best practices, 4 actionable tips as well SEO pitfalls to avoid.

Car Dealership SEO Best Practices (+ 4 Tips)

✅ SEO Best Practices

  1. Use HTTPs (SSL certificates)
  2. Make sure your web site pages load fast
  3. Target a relevant topic that has traffic potential
  4. Meet search intent
  5. Target a topic you can compete for
  6. Use your target keyword in your page title, H1 tag and URL
  7. Use a short (but descriptive) URL
  8. Write a good title tag and meta description
  9. Optimize your images
  10. Write good content
  11. Add internal links
  12. Get more quality backlinks

4 Actionable Automotive SEO Tips

Here are some things your practice can do to begin the process of developing a good hotel marketing strategy.

  1. Add relevant keywords
  2. Optimize for local searches
  3. Start blogging
  4. Earn links
1. Add relevant keywords to your website

People looking for car dealerships also look for specific services like oil changes or annual vehicle inspections. Long-tail searches typically have fewer searches, but the traffic that comes from them is often highly targeted and ready to turn into real customers.

For example, instead of just focusing on optimizing your website for “car dealership” or “auto services,” you could add keywords like “car dealership in [your city]” or “used cars in [your area]” or “oil change services in [your city], [state]” to it.

2. Optimize your site for local searches

If your SEO plan doesn’t use local SEO to target specific areas, you’ll likely miss out on some great leads. Adding the name of your town and nearby towns to your website copy is the easiest way to get better results.

But don’t forget about things on your site besides writing copy. You should also add places to the titles and URLs of your pages.

Also, make sure that your business is listed on Google Maps and local directory sites. This will help your dealership show up more in local searches.

3. Start writing useful content

The main goal of dealership SEO is to get more customers by making your website more visible in Google.

One way to do this is to write a blog. If you write a blog with tips on vehicle maintenance or latest car models, you’ll start to get interested readers and potential customers. As your traffic grows, so will your search rankings, and people looking for a car dealership in your area will turn to you as a reliable source.

4. Earn quality links

How high your site ranks in search results for keywords and phrases related to your business depends on how many and how good the links are to it. This means that you need to get good links if you want to keep your rankings.

You can do this by creating high-quality content and reaching out to bloggers and influencers in your field to ask them to share it. This will not only help you move up in search results, but it will also make your car dealership look like a leader in the field.

Backlinks are a very important part of SEO for car dealerships. They are like a vote of confidence for the content your dealership puts out. Because of this, links are one of the most important ways that search engines like Google decide how to rank pages.

❌ SEO Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Not doing enough keyword research
  • Not matching user/search intent
  • Targeting keywords that are far too difficult
  • Not building enough quality backlinks
  • Breaking Google’s Terms of Service when building backlinks
  • Missing out on internal link opportunities
  • Not allowing Google crawl your content
  • Not allowing Google index your content
  • Having a very slow site
  • Treating SEO as a one-time thing

Chapter 6 – FAQs & Resources/h2>

In this section, you will cover some common questions surrounding digital marketing for car dealerships.

How does car dealership SEO work?

SEO for car dealership means making sure that your website is optimised for both search engines and users. This makes your website more visible in relevant and organic search results.

Optimizations include:

  • on-page SEO
  • link building
  • technical SEO review
  • content audit
  • local citation audit

Why do car dealerships need marketing?

It helps you set your dealership apart.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. A marketing plan not only helps you find your target market, but it also helps your customers understand why they should choose your car dealership.

A good dealership marketing strategy should bring in new customers, retain the ones you have, and make more people aware of your offerings. The main goal is to get potential customers to call, visit the dealership, or schedule a test drive online.

How long does car dealership SEO take?

Typically, car dealer SEO takes at least six months to deliver results.

In some cases, practices may start to see results like increased traffic, phone calls, and appointments, in faster timeframe than this.

Although typically 6 months is a good benchmark as SEO is a long-term strategy vs. a short-term strategy like PPC.

How much does SEO for car dealerships cost?

Prices for automotive website SEO depend on multiple factors, but the average cost for car dealership SEO is $1500 – $5000 per month.

If you’re looking to partner with a consultant or SEO expert, the average rate is $100 – $300 per hour.

What’s Next?

Guest Posts

We do guest posts better than anyone else with complete transparency. You get to approve all placements before they’re made and even the exact anchor text that’s going to be used. Site owners themselves will produce your content to guarantee its a perfect match.

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Crafting the right message isn’t just a matter of choosing the right words. We develop site content and blogs using the latest tools to determine the right keywords and balance of terms to build high-performing content.

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Managed SEO

Sometimes, it takes more than just one service to make a difference. Multiple services working in concert can amplify the effect and create the growth that’s evaded you in the past. Talk to us about managed SEO campaigns built around any of your goals.

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