How Dealers Can Improve Their Local SEO
1st November 2016
While independent car dealers may feel like they face an impossible task in ever making a significant impact to their SEO on a national scale, with the large online advertisers always likely to dominate the rankings due to their substantial customer base and pool of resources, local SEO allows independent dealers to challenge for the top of the first page on Google for some of the most relevant searches to their business, with no need for vast marketing resources or budgets.
Designed to work by Google regardless of whether there is a defined location in the search term or not, local SEO is a much more realistic campaign for independent car dealers to target if they are intent on improving their search engine ranking, and with it following much of the same rules that a general SEO campaign does, there is no risk of dealerships harming their current SEO by looking to improve their local visibility within Google. The big difference with local SEO in comparison to general SEO comes in the importance that Google places on dealerships having accurate and active business listings and profiles across the internet.
Unsurprisingly, the most important place for a dealership to be listed on is Google My Business, with a presence on here being essential for enabling a business to show up in local search results in the first place. Ensuring that a business name, phone number, address and opening times are present on Google My Business, and that it matches the information that is on other online listing sites, is the first step in improving a dealerships’ local search visibility. SEO aside, being present on Google My Business is also a worthwhile task as it allows for prospective customers to easily obtain directions via Google Maps should they wish to visit in person.
Once a dealership is listed on Google My Business, and other directory websites, the next step is to build the online authenticity and reputation of the business with Google and its users. The most effective way to do this is by acquiring customer reviews, ideally on Google, as this will have the most effect on search rankings due to the importance placed on them by Google’s search algorithm. With more and more consumers now researching dealers online before visiting them too, positive reviews can also help to convince prospective customers to bring their business to a dealership if customer reviews indicate that they can be trusted to deliver a good service. Aside from reviews, even quick tasks such as ensuring there is a collection of up-to-date photos on Google My Business can help to increase the validity of a business in the eyes of Google, with it showing that they are active and engaging with their online profiles.
Although customer reviews are crucial to local SEO, they are far from the only thing dealers should focus on when they are looking to build their online authority. Setting up social media profiles, most importantly Twitter and Facebook, is another way that dealers can help to improve their visibility with customers and standing with Google. Ensuring that these social media profiles also feature a link to the businesses’ current website and location in the relevant area of the page will also be of benefit in the same way that being listed on an online directory websites does.
Simply setting up social media profiles to increase a dealership’s number of listings shouldn’t be viewed as enough though, as by encouraging customers to interact with them on social media, whether that be by sharing a photo, commenting on a post, etc., dealers can have a substantial impact on a their search ranking with a whole host of online users.
As we explained in our recent article, Not Everyone’s Search Results Are The Same, the activity of a user’s social friend can have a significant impact on that user’s very own search results. To put it simply, if a user’s social friend is regularly interacting with a business via its social media page, Google views this as a recommendation, or a ‘social signal’, and is likely to display that business higher up their search results for any relevant queries.
Listings and reviews aside, as with any SEO campaign, content is of paramount importance and this is no different with local SEO. As well as adhering to the usual SEO rules when it comes to content on a website, such as ensuring it is relevant, original and easy to comprehend, local SEO brings another consideration in the form of making reference to a company’s location. The common way to do this is by mentioning the location and history in the ‘About Us’ page, and by also ensuring that every page of their website features a footer that includes the same information you would on find on online listings (business name, address and phone number). Both are subtle and effective ways to further improve links to a location without any need for keyword stuffing or irrelevant content, which can harm your rankings.
Much like website content, common SEO factors such as inbound links to your website and mobile responsive design remain just as important in local search rankings, with the areas we have covered being factors you should ensure you have in place right from the very outset of your local SEO campaign.