Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Dealership Demographic Targeting

Knowing how different groups of people use the Internet can help your auto dealership effectively target your online marketing and earn more sales.  When you take the time to segment and understand your market, it becomes easier for your dealership to send the right message to the right people at the right time, resulting in more sales for your dealership.

It seems as though one of the factors that most determines how users browse the Internet is gender.  eMarketer recently conducted a study that found slightly more women say they use the Internet than men.  The study also found that men tend to browse the Internet longer per online session that women do.  One reason for this increase in online engagement for men could be that men are more interested in watching online videos than women are.

Your dealership can use this information to better target men who may be shopping your dealer site for their next car.  Try adding videos of your new and used inventory to increase the amount of time your web visitors spend viewing your inventory.  Online video will also help satisfy those car shoppers who spend their time online watching videos.

This is one example of how knowing what your market wants can help your dealership sell more cars.  Placing videos of your dealership inventory on your dealer website can help increase the time that web visitors spend on your site, as well as how engaged they are while viewing your videos.  If you dealership isn’t taking full advantage of car inventory videos, you are missing out on potential sales.

Dealership Long-Tail SEO Searches

A recent study by Comscore finds that the “average” search term entered into Google continues to get longer and longer.  As it stands, the average search term contains just over 3 words, and this increase in the length of search terms doesn’t appear to be slowing.

This makes search engine optimization (SEO) even more important than ever for your auto dealer website.  Since Google uses “best-fit” guidelines to match search terms to relevant web pages, if a long-tail search doesn’t fit something exactly, Google will try to fit a web page to the search.  The better optimized your auto dealership site is, the more of these searches your website will rank for, even if you don’t have the exact words that were searched for.

While the increase in long-tail search terms is great for SEO effectiveness, it’s not as great of news for car dealerships that rely solely on pay-per-click advertising (PPC).  Many dealerships set up their paid ad campaigns so that their ads only appear for an “exact match” of keywords.  This means that your dealership ad will only show if the search term is the exact same as a keyword you bid on.  With search terms getting longer and more specific, the chances of getting an “exact match” to a keyword your dealership is bidding on gets more unlikely.  Slight differences in the way your account is set-up can make huge differences in your results, so it’s important that your dealership either has someone in-house who fully understands and devotes time to managing your PPC campaigns, or that you partner with an expert vendor.

Combining your auto dealership’s PPC campaign with an effective SEO campaign will increase the chances that your dealer website will be found in Google’s search engine results.  Simply relying on pay-per-click will make your dealership website show in search engine results less and less often as time goes on.

Google Profiles takes advantage of Identity Searches

When you meet someone new and you want to find out more information about them, what do you do?  If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll head straight to Google and search for their name.  I would bet that a large number of potential customers perform an Internet search on your dealership after they’ve decided to purchase from you.  How often do you think they do the same on the name of the salesperson they are considering purchasing their vehicle from?

Typical search results are your social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn), as well as website on which your name appears (dealership site, news articles, etc).  Google is now allowing users to create “profiles” in which you can upload images, link to websites and write a personal bio.  This tool is available to anyone who creates an account on Google after you go through a screening routine to verify your identity.

What’s great about this tool is that, from a business standpoint, you can have full control over an entry in the search results pages.  Those who have completed the verification process have found that this “profile” is being shown on the first page of search results very quickly (though this isn’t much of a surprise since Google will of course want to promote their own products).

To start the process, go to Google Profiles.   It looks as though this could be another great way to manage your online reputation as well as increase the search engine optimization results for your personal brand as well as your dealership.  Let us know how it works out!

Online Automotive Marketing – Patience is a Virtue

As an auto sales person, you want to see the results of your selling efforts as soon as possible.  As a business person, you want to see the financial benefits of any money you spend as soon as you spend it.  Business and sales tend to be focused on the here and now, and rightly so.  Especially during this lull the sales volume of cars, waiting for benefits can be downright painful for your dealership.  But it’s also necessary at times.  In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), your auto dealership might have to wait to see the full results.  Here’s why:

Search Engine Bots Take Time to Crawl: Most search engine bots don’t look for new content every day.  If you’ve done an overhaul of your website and it’s content, it could take 3-4 months for each page to be indexed.

They Want to Make Sure You’re Legit:  Even if your web pages do get noticed and indexed, the search engine algorithms want to make sure your dealer website isn’t manipulating your links.  Over time, they’ve found that these black hat SEO tactics tend to be fleeting, while quality, meaningful links tend to stay on a website.

Gaining Attention Online Takes Time:  A big part of SEO ranking is the quality and quantity of websites that link back to your site.  It can often take a lot of time for a website to earn these inbound links.

This isn’t to say that you should wait indefinitely while your SEO company takes your auto dealership for a ride.  Make sure your dealership has access to the analytics that demonstrate your gradual climb up the page ranks, and when the time comes, that you actually see results.

Dealer Website Lynch Pin?

We’ve all heard the estimates about how many dealerships are going to be closing within the next year–NADA estimates that another 1000 dealerships will close in 2009 alone.  Of course this is a scary fact, but there are things that you can do to prevent your dealership from being one of them.  One of the first items is making sure people who are searching online (which 80% of those who purchase vehicles do) can find your dealership website.  Imagine missing out on 80% of all potential sales, sending them to your competitors, just because your website isn’t properly optimized.

Score Chrysler Dodge in Franklin, OH, recently shut their doors (January 5, 2009).  DealerOn wishes the best for all of their employees, as well as the community that will no doubt feel the impact from this dealership having to close.

I was curious though, how well their website ranked for relevant search terms, so I did a little research.  Their website (which is still up) looks as though it is optimized for three cities: Franklin (pop 12,000), Springboro (pop 12,000), and Middletown (pop 51,000).  The problem with this is that there are two, much more populous cities within 30 miles of Franklin (Dayton, pop 166,000 and Cincinnati, pop 330,000).

Here’s how they rank on the page for Google for the following terms (I stopped looking after the second page):

For the search term “Franklin Chrysler OH” the dealership website ranked second on the page, which is pretty good.  Except that Franklin is a town with a population of only 12,000 people.  The dealer website also appeared for the terms “Franklin Chrysler service” (16th) and “Franklin Chrysler parts” (13th).

But the good news ends there.  A news article about the dealership closing appeared when I searched for “Cincinnati Chrysler” (12th), “Cincinnati Chrysler dealer” (12th), and “Cincinnati Chrysler parts” (8th).  The dealership website did not show in the results for those terms.

Nothing about Score Chrysler Dodge showed in the first two pages of search results when I searched for the terms “Cincinnati Chrysler OH,” “Cincinnati Chrysler parts,” “Dayton Chrysler,” “Dayton Chrysler OH,” “Dayton Chrysler dealer,” “Dayton Chrysler service,” “Dayton Chrysler parts,” “Franklin Chrysler,” and “Franklin Chrysler dealer.”

Unless someone searched for their dealership name or one of the few terms that they actually ranked for, potential Chrysler buyers in this metro area wouldn’t find their dealership online.  This means that their website and dealership never had any chance to convert them into a lead or sell them a car.

You have to wonder…if the Score Chrysler Dodge website had been properly optimized so that those who were looking for a Chrysler vehicle in the Cincinnati-Dayton area would have found their site, would it have made a difference in their decision to close its doors?