|Auto dealers today are quite familiar with the power of the Web to generate business. In fact, many dealers employ an Internet sales manager tasked specifically to utilize the Web to find, acquire and retain customers. Even if your dealership does not have someone dedicated to Web sales, you likely have an attractive Web site that provides solid, well-organized information and useful tools to visitors. However, getting the right people to the Web site, then compelling them to walk through your door may still be a puzzle you’re still trying to solve.|
That’s where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes in. SEO refers to the process of structuring and creating content to help your Web site appear as high as possible in all relevant “natural” keyword search results. When done well and with a little patience, SEO can be the holy grail of Internet marketing, as it can drive targeted traffic to your Web site without spending a dime on paid search listings.
While SEO is often seen as a black science to the technologically challenged among us, there are some effective steps your dealership can take to leverage keywords and optimize your site for search engines. Here are three practical ways your dealership can create an effective SEO strategy:
Keywords that Stick
Rather than stuff your Web site full of loosely-related keywords in an attempt to grab as many eyeballs as possible, pay close attention to the keywords and search terms that truly reflect your site’s content and what your prospective customers are looking for. Consider the terms that best describe what differentiates your dealership, including vehicle brands and specialties (such as SUVs or luxury cars), geographic location and service department details.
Structure Web Page Content for Easy Search
Although SEO content strategies yield longer Web pages, this structure will make them easier to read.
Frequent Updates Keep Rankings High
Keep in mind that auto dealerships and search engines have two different things in mind as far as “regular updates.” To search engines, the vehicle inventory pages of your Web site, which may be updated daily, are invisible because the coding behind these pages is ignored when search engines crawl through your site’s content.
Fortunately, there are several other ways to keep your Web site’s content fresh. Special sales and model-specific incentives are a natural, as they occur regularly and often tie in with other advertising channels. A monthly e-newsletter is another opportunity to reinforce your brand among existing and potential customers. This content can be doubly effective, as it’s often chock-full of relevant keywords. One important tip: Make sure all text is in HTML format, as search engine crawlers can’t read through PDF or image files.
If writing a regular newsletter seems a little daunting, consider adding a page or two to your Web site that will include dealership updates or industry news. Even brief snippets will keep your Web site up to date. Keeping your site updated has positive benefits. While, it’s good for search engines, it appears relevant to new and repeat visitors, which is good for business.
A word of warning: Updating your Web site too frequently can actually be detrimental to your SEO efforts. Search engines need time to locate and index your new content; too many changes in too short a time period can raise virtual red flags. If possible, limit very frequent (think daily or every other day) changes to only a page or two of your site, such as one dedicated to latest news, and link to it from your homepage. Such a strategy strikes the right balance between frequent updates that please users without rocking the boat for search engines.
Bonus Tip: Be Patient!