Every day my team and I field questions about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and what it takes to put your best foot forward on Google and other search engines. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our dealers’ site visibility in these search engines. I recently read an analogy by Matt Cutts, a member of the Google Search Quality team, comparing a webscite to a resume. I like this analogy and thought I’d shed some light on how it relates to car dealers.
Good title tags and meta descriptions will get you noticed
Imagine your chances of getting an interview with a resume containing conflicting information, like two different names or a summary statement that isn’t supported by any of your experience. If somehow you manage to slip through the first screening process, any good interviewer would take one look at your resume, dump it in the trash, and excuse you. Think of a search engine as the interviewer. The search engine wants information about your dealership that is clear, concise, and easy to find.
Good resumes contain the same essential information: who you are, what you have done and how to contact you. But most importantly, resumes tell the story of you and your personal brand. Your website needs to do the same. It should display your dealership brand, explain the history of your dealership, let people know where to find you, and what you can do for them. All of these are additional morsels of information the search engine will catalog as useful knowledge to reference in deciding when and where to place your website in their search listings.
So, when it comes to how you construct your web site’s title tags and meta information, consider the resume analogy. A web page’s title tag and meta description are incredibly important because they are the first thing a shopper sees when searching for you or your products and services.
The clickable portion of the link above (highlighted in yellow) is the title tag and the words underneath are pulled from the meta description. First impressions mean a lot, and you want to put your best foot forward. Make sure your SEO specialist is polishing these critical elements.
Compelling content will drive visitors to your web site
How do you make the rest of your website’s content so phenomenal that people consider you an expert and want to repeatedly visit your site? You would do it the same way you would get positive references from your previous employer. If you consistently turn out quality work, then you prove yourself as a “go to” person for the information and resources your company needs. Similarly, if your dealership’s web site consistently provides your visitors and your community with helpful and reliable information, such as up-to-date inventory, specials, pricing and positive customer reviews, you’re already one step ahead of your competitors. Give shoppers what they want, and they will be more compelled to return.
In addition to up-to-date inventory information, be sure to include relevant linkable on-site content such as: 1. Tips on how to prepare your car for the upcoming seasonal changes 2. The latest news regarding your manufacturer’s technology and models and 3. What you’ve been doing in the community or your dealership’s future plans and how they can benefit your area. People like stories, so tell a story and they’ll listen. Even if they’re actively buying a car, they won’t listen to a constant sales pitch. If you do good work, someone is bound to give you a reference (link). It’s that simple.
Reputable inbound links are vital to any SEO campaign. An inbound link (someone finds your site’s content useful or interesting and they link to your page voluntarily), is like an Internet vote. Every link is a vote in favor of your web site. The more votes, the better your chances are of showing up on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Just as your references serve as support for your endearing smile and pinstripe suit, your web site references lend support for your dealership’s brand. Some factors the search engine consider are: where the inbound links originate, how long they have been in place, the context around the link and whether this referencing web site has known your web site a long time, trusts it, and has nice things to say about it.
In the past, many people who did not have the patience or know-how to accomplish a proper long-term linking strategy simply bought links. That’s equivalent to paying a new acquaintance to answer the phone posing as an old employer. Buying links is considered unethical. Search engines have been known to remove web sites completely from their index if they discover this tactic. They are beginning to target this practice more and more. So, let me restate that: buying links for your dealership’s website puts it in jeopardy of completely disappearing from Google. If you’re using an agency or an unproven SEO provider, you need to ask them point blank, “Are you buying links for my web site?” If you hear anything but a resounding “no!,” start considering your provider options and questioning your results. Your web site is too important to your dealership and the support of your brand to have it suddenly vanish.
Just as you would with a resume, make sure your website provides the right message, is concise, accurate, consistent, and positions your dealership as the area authority on the products and services you provide. Do this and you’ll get the search engine interviews you’re after, and your references (links) will have nothing but nice things to say.