A marketing-oriented dealership exec can police the calls to action, content alignment and other web elements to help his business.
BY AMY FARLEY
Every dealer by now knows the importance of a strong search engine optimization strategy. SEO is key to a dealership website’s organic rankings, and in turn those rankings drive customers to a dealer’s online showroom.
But SEO isn’t just about keywords and site content, and that’s something many dealers don’t realize. Good automotive SEO is not “set it and forget it.” If you approach SEO that way, you’ll likely see diminishing returns. Instead, it’s something that your digital marketing team or you should be monitoring and working at regularly.
With that in mind, this article gives some SEO fundamentals and oft-overlooked tactics that can help keep your organic rankings – and your business – on the rise.
Calls To Action
Other than creating compelling web content, on what should a dealer or marketer focus when it comes to SEO? For starters, a well-strategized call to action (CTA) can guide a website visitor farther along the path to purchase, leading him or her one step closer to making a conversion. So, how can you create the most effective CTA?
Determine what action you’d like a customer to take upon viewing a given website page. What question do you think that customer will have next? If the page being viewed compares two vehicle models, will he or she next want to learn more about pricing? Maybe vehicle features instead? The CTA must be relevant to what you believe the customer intends to find out, or else you won’t get any clicks.
If you’re choosing a CTA for a button on a model page, for instance, “Check Inventory” might not perform very well, since that’s fairly generic language. “See Pricing” would be a better option, because it provides an answer to a question a site visitor logically would pose – namely, “How much does this vehicle cost?”
It’s not just about selecting the best CTAs, though. When a page offers too many CTAs, a visitor can become distracted. Several studies have shown that conversion rates tend to be lower on pages with too many competing CTAs.
Proper placement of the CTAs also is crucial. Many dealer websites simply feature a long list of links on one side of the screen, even though most savvy Internet users have been trained over time to dismiss that kind of CTA layout as spammy. One or two quality CTAs situated in a part of the page where they can’t be ignored may prove to be the difference between a visitor making a conversion or leaving your site entirely.
People often forget that user experience is a large part of SEO. That’s why having content that’s well-organized and smartly laid out is so important. When customers visit your website, they are likely looking for specific information or content. If they can’t quickly and easily find what they’re searching for, then they may leave, resulting in high bounce rates. However, this can be avoided if that information is easy for them to find.
Do you have pages on your website that simply have too much to say? You may choose to condense the content on those pages in order to make it more easily digestible to the average site visitor. Utilizing headers to section off paragraphs into clearly delineated topics is a great way to organize information, and non-text alternatives such as images, videos and infographics can help get your point across in a way that reduces wordiness and makes a page more visually appealing to a visitor.
Streamlining your site navigation also is critical. Links to other pages on your site should be laid out in a natural and concise way. If you have many pages on similar topics (for instance, individual model landing pages), you may instead opt for a unified “Models In Our Inventory” page with a simple and attractive hub layout that shows links to these individual model pages.
Your SEO efforts that take place off your website are just as critical for a successful search strategy as the content you create. Dealers can’t neglect citation alignment, which means ensuring that their dealership’s name, address and phone number (NAPs), as well as any other relevant information, are consistent all across the web.
Google’s Pigeon update, which was originally released in 2014, focused on increasing local search relevance, and so consistent NAPs have become even more important. These citations tend to increase a dealership’s local authority and presence in web searches. Essentially, they tell a search engine, “This is a Ford dealership located in Boulder, Colorado.” If there are accurate and plentiful citations, the search engine can trust that fact, and your dealership will be more likely to rank highly when a customer searches for a Boulder-area Ford dealer.
Your marketing team or agency can submit correct NAPs information to the four major data providers (Neustar/Localeze, Acxiom, Factual and Infogroup), which will then disperse that information across 300 listing sites around the web. Since Infogroup reports that 85 percent of customers are unlikely to return to a business that displays the incorrect address or hours of operation, citation alignment is valuable not only to your SEO plan but also to your business plan as a whole.
A/B Testing With SEO
Any true SEO expert will tell you that testing is an important part of an overall strategy. There are many options when it comes to calls to action, web page design, content focus and more. It’s a good idea to test each of those options in order to determine what is working and where there’s room for growth.
Month to month, try new things or make small tweaks to a given page. For example, you may want to try changing the page layout, or just slightly altering a keyword phrase. Using a tool like Google Analytics, you can see the results and how they change over time. Perhaps a button rarely got clicks when it was situated on the right-hand side of the page, but it performs much better on the left side. Perhaps the opposite is true. Either way, you can find this out through regular testing.
Over time, continually optimizing and testing your content and the pages on your site will lead to greater organic success.
The fundamental tactics I’ve reviewed here – coupled with the quality, optimized content that your digital marketing team already is creating for your website – can help your dealership’s organic SEO rankings rise. You should see tremendous improvement in key metrics such as time spent on your site and bounce rate.