SEO Basics for Automotive Dealerships

10 Oct SEO Basics for Automotive Dealerships

In a previous post, my colleague Marisa Markwardt wrote about the importance of dealership websites.  However, that importance is lost if no one finds the website in the first place. A study by Forrester shows that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and a study by Outbrain shows that search is the #1 driver of traffic to content sites. Your site needs to be on search engines, and it needs to be ranked high.

NetMarketShare says that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, so if your dealership isn’t there, they won’t find it.  While you can pay to get to the top with PPC, topping the organic results even more important as MarketingSherpa found that 70% of the links search users click on are organic, and User Centric’s study shows 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results.

In the screenshot below, you can see the paid ads highlighted in red, leaving the organic search results in white with one of our Chumney & Associates custom vehicle content pages on the Big O Dodge website coming up #1 in the results.


(Read more “Eye-Popping” SEO stats from Search Engine Journal)

Behind every good dealership website, you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO). At Chumney & Associates, our SEO team works hard to get your page a top ranking, and today we’re sharing some of our tips with you.

First, Stop Worrying!

The good news is that SEO is becoming more and more natural. These days it’s not about tricking the bots by stuffing keywords and gobbledygook into your pages.  Much of what is best for your site’s visitors and their experience is what will benefit your SEO as well.  Good organization and user experience as well as relevant content are the most important factors.  Google and other search engines are really looking to see if your site is an authority.  Just a few simple changes to your site can make a big difference.  Keep reading for our tips on how to start with the basics.

We Keep Your Site Organized and Simple

Chumney & Associates will create a simple and organized layout for your website to help your customers as well as search engines understand where they are on the site and where to find other pages.  We think about how users will navigate from page to page while preparing your navigation.  Then we determine what specific pages should be found under more general pages or categories.  We use text links for navigation, which are easier for search engines to crawl, and make sure you have a sitemap.  We make your site functional and easy to use.

Using Google’s In-Page Analytics

One tool that we use is Google’s In-Page Analytics.  To get there, simply click on “Content” in the left sidebar of your Google Analytics page, then click “In-Page Analytics,” as seen in the screenshot below.

In-Page Analytics allows you to view stats like page clicks superimposed over your site’s homepage.  You can also browse your site as you normally would, clicking from page to page to see the corresponding data.

inpageanalytics copy

Here we notice of what pages are getting the most clicks. This tells us what people are looking for when they get to your site. Then we create more direct buttons or links to what people are looking for and build off of that content.

On the flip side, we also keep an eye out for high bounce rates, which can tell us when a page isn’t effective.  This could be a sign that the title is misleading and needs to be changed, or the content needs to be improved upon or expanded.

We Find The Best Keywords

Though stuffing your site with keywords is no longer a good strategy, some keywords can still be helpful when used naturally in titles, content, tags, and descriptions.

A new tool we discovered to research what keywords may be helpful to your site is Google Trends. It allows us to see the volume of a keyword set as well as upcoming trends. We can also can see in what areas the search term is used in the highest volume. Pairing down this data from national to metro or city is also helpful, and we explore the related searches section to see what related words are trending.

Another useful tool from Google is the Keyword Planner in Adwords. Here we search for keyword ideas based on terms that are relevant to your dealership and manufacturer and your landing pages. We use statistics like search volume to help decide which keywords to use.

We also take advantage of Wordtracker’s Free Keyword Suggestion Tool, another that suggests what popular keywords to use related to ones we input.

We Write Descriptive Page Titles and URLs

We indicate your page titles using title tags.  These are also the titles that will be shown in search results so it’s important to make them specific, brief, and interesting.  We write custom titles for each page.

We also name your URLs using descriptive keywords.  This provides users and search engines with more information about the page.  For example, instead of this post’s URL looking like this, instead it looks like this so you know what the post is about and when it was posted.

We Update With Good Content

Compelling content is likely to be the most influential factor in rankings. Chumney & Associates updates your website with new, fresh content frequently that’s rich with images and descriptive text.

We ensure that your site is providing information for the three main types of searches.

Transactional – These searches are when a user is looking to complete an action.  Since you can’t actually purchase a car online yet, in the dealership world, this is most applicable in the case of the user identifying a local dealer (i.e. best Ford dealer in North Palm Beach, FL), finding a car they are interested in (i.e. black 2013 Ford Fusion in North Palm Beach, FL), getting a price on that car, scheduling a service appointment, filling out a contact form etc.

We make your dealership’s address as well as driving directions and a map easily accessible throughout your site, as well as your hours and phone number.  We also include your SEO conquest cities in vehicle content pages to rank high in those areas.

Read our post on The Importance of Merchandising Your Dealership’s Website to learn more about how we place conversion buttons for completing leads.

Navigational – Here, users are looking for a specific website, but they don’t know the URL (i.e. Chumney Motors in North Palm Beach, FL).

This is where having lots of links to your site comes in handy.  Refer to our post, Tips for Managing Your Dealership’s Online Reputation, for information on how to claim your online business listings.

Informational – In this case, the user is researching for specific answers to questions (i.e. MPG of a 2013 Ford Fusion).

We create a “Research” tab on your site with specs and information on new car models available.

We Utilize Anchor Text and Tags

We are also careful to write good anchor text.  Anchor text is the clickable text to a link.  It tells users and Google something about the page you’re linking to.

When using images, we utilize the image alt tag.  What’s placed in the alt tag will be displayed if the picture cannot be. If you use the picture as a link, this will also give Google a better idea of what’s on the page you are linking to, much like anchor text.

We use heading tags to create a basic outline of the content on the page.  This will signify to users and search engines what content is below each header so they can more easily navigate a page to find what they need.

We Promote Your Website Off-Site

We also post quality content on social media and blogs with relevant keywords and links back to your site.  Posts, likes, shares, and comments on social sites and communities help build your site’s reputation and direct more people to your site, showing your authority on the topic.

We link to others so they will return the favor.  If your dealership is sponsoring an event, working with a charity, featured in the news, etc. we’ll link to that organization, charity, or news station when promoting the article on your website and in your social media posts.

To read more detailed tips, check out the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz.

At Chumney & Associates, we are experts in SEO, SEM, website merchandising, and social media.  Visit to learn more about working with us to make your dealership #1 in the rankings.

About the Author

Tony Weaver is a research-based automotive Internet marketing strategist & consultant.  He leads a cutting-edge team of Automotive Internet Marketing & Development professionals at Chumney & Associates. Connect with him on Google+ here.


Marisa Markwardt is an automotive internet marketing specialist at Chumney & Associates with a passion for social media and writing. Connect with her on Google+ here.

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