Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. What is vital for SEO one day might not be so the next. Currently, there are five common pitfalls, and I’m going to go over each of them and outline a few simple guidelines to keep your site from falling in.
1. Keyword cannibalization
Did you know your own site can compete with itself? In a process known as “keyword cannibalization,” Google’s crawlers can’t tell which page to prioritize, and the whole site suffers. With your site, you will want the crawlers to know the difference between your homepage and any number of VDPs and help Google route visitors to the one that’s most likely to get you that lead.
With that in mind, use long-tail keywords, something that I have gone over in this space in the past. These are more descriptive and will let the crawler know what’s on the page and how best to match it with a search query. In addition, make sure to update your VDPs constantly as inventory goes out and comes in.
2. Get the right backlinks
Backlinks are other sites linking to yours, and are an important, but difficult part of SEO. You can find an article on how to get them in our archives, and while you’re at it, watch our Wednesday Workshop on content marketing. When getting backlinks, keep in mind that sheer volume isn’t what Google is looking for.
When trying to gain backlinks look for sites with high domain authority where links to your pages would make sense. In other words, other automotive sites, such as industry publications, other dealerships, or OEMs. You should have someone in charge of obtaining those links, and actively solicit guest bloggers from these places to post on your page.
When creating content, the best thing to do is concentrate on something you’re passionate about.
3. Core web vitals
Core web vitals are a big part of Google’s SEO strategy going forward, and the best part is they’re measurable. Not to sound like a broken record here, but I’ve broken them down in detail in the archives, and for a complete view, check that out. The short version is that the core web vitals measure how quickly the biggest thing on a page loads, how constant the layout is while loading, and how long before the page is clickable by a visitor.
While there are more detailed ways to improve your vitals, the short version is that you should optimize all of your images, keep redirects to the absolute minimum, and have your pages cached so that your page will load quickly for repeat visitors.
4. Use advanced HTML tags
Advanced HTML tags let Google’s crawlers know what they’re looking at. As you can imagine, this is incredibly important when it comes to SEO. But since advanced HTML tags are on the complicated end, they can often be left out. Don’t make that mistake.
Noindex and nofollow are important tags that let the crawler know not to index pages. This can help with keyword cannibalization as well, removing certain pages from consideration and keeping traffic pointed in the right direction. In addition, schema markup is an incredibly useful tool that helps Google extract data from your page for an easier search experience.
5. Make good content
This applies more to the content marketing side of your business, but you should ensure that your homepage and all VDPs are in tip top shape. Good content means more visitors and backlinks, helping with the above points.
When creating content, the best thing to do is concentrate on something you’re passionate about. Depth is important to Google, with longer content doing better in SEO than shorter. If you’re running a Cadillac dealership and you have a blog about classic Caddys, you’re leaning into what you do and likely producing detailed and knowledgable stuff.
As SEO evolves, it’s tough to create consistent rules. Google is doing its best to rank pages that give visitors what they’re after, and these rules will help you to make pages like that. While the specific rules might change, those guiding factors are unlikley to.