Today, when consumers begin their journey to buy a new car, they rely on internet research more than ever. In the past, many customers began this process at the dealership, but that has changed. Now, customers visit a dealership at the very end of their journey—to buy the actual vehicle. In fact, research has found that 65 percent of consumers research their auto purchase online for three weeks before they even step foot on your lot. That’s a lot of time for you to get your dealership in front of them so they opt to buy from you.

That’s easier said than done. So, what can you do to help your car listings stand out from your competitors during this pivotal research phase? You can implement strategic SEO on your website for your car dealership. Because the top three results of a Google search get 60 percent of all online traffic, it’s important your dealership ranks amongst those top pages. Here are four ways you can better your SEO ranking and implement SEO best practices to create car listings that sell.


1. Update Your Google Business Profile to Capitalize on Local Search

Google favors local businesses when customers search for products and services in their area. For instance, when a customer Googles, “Hondas near me,” they’re presented with a Google map that pinpoints the local Honda dealerships closest to them. That’s great news for local brick and mortar businesses like your car dealership; your business has a leg-up on your chance to appear at the very top of search engine results and make a sale.

However, appearing in front of a customer is half the battle. You have to make sure the information they see is accurate. You can do so by optimizing your Google Business Profile. Google Business Profile is a free online directory where you can create a business profile. Your profile should display an accurate business address, contact information like your phone number, and hours of operation.

Your Google Business Profile should also build trust with customers by including reviews and high quality photos. That’s because Google Business Profiles which include images receive 35 percent more click-throughs than those that do not. Customers can add to your Google Business Profile gallery, but it’s best if you upload high-quality photos of your location, inventory, staff, and customers (if they give you permission). That way, you can curate an authentic and professional representation of your business.

Once you fine-tune your information on your Google Business Profile, stay consistent across your digital presence. Best SEO practices stipulate that you should include your business address and contact information on every page of your website—and that it matches your Google Business Profile exactly. For example, if you refer to your dealership as “Apple Valley’s Best Toyota” in one place, do not call it “AVB Toyota” in another. Consistency in how you refer to your business increases your SEO credibility and improves your chances of becoming a top listing in your area. Plus, you don’t run the risk of confusing customers this way and causing them to do business elsewhere.


2. Use Keywords Real Customers Search For

While many car dealerships focus their listings on model name and pricing, it is important to present your inventory that aligns with the way customers perform an online search. In short, don’t get caught up in industry jargon or specs. Speak the language of your customer by including terms like “panoramic sunroof” or “spacious trunk.” 

Stand out from the competition by updating your car listings with the words real customers are using in their searches. A simple SEO audit or manual keyword research can open your eyes to the way customers shop and think.

Be sure to keep an eye on these review sites for your dealership.


3. Improve How Well Search Engines “See” Your Images

While search engines easily understand the words you use on your page, they have trouble “seeing” what’s in your images. So how can you help search engines better understand your photos? Include “alt-tags.” 

Alt-tags are short snippets of text you pair with your images so search can index that information—or in layman’s terms, queue it up to appear in front of customers when they search for a relevant term or phrase. Alt tags are the only way for a search engine to “see” a “Red 2008 Jeep Liberty” or a “Black 2010 Ford Edge.” They’re also one of the ways you can ensure your customers see your listings when they search for relevant topics.


4. Use Your Blog to Become a Part of The Buying Journey

Most consumers purchase new cars before or after big life events. Whether they get a new job or welcome a baby into the family, these occasions spur the need for a new vehicle. How can your website’s SEO integrate your dealership into this customer journey? 

As search results have become more and more sophisticated, people ask very specific questions. Your dealership’s blog posts should serve as answers to these questions. 

Increase your organic traffic by posting about topics people search for when faced with these big life moments. For example, write a blog about “The Most Comfortable Vehicles for Large Families,” “How to Choose the Best Car for Your Teenager,” or “2020’s Most Pet-Friendly Car Models.” The more specific you get with your audience’s frame of mind, the better your chances of appearing in front of a qualified customer when they’re ready to buy. 

Improving your automotive SEO is one of the most efficient ways to drive traffic to your dealer’s car listings—literally and digitally. Implement these tips to break into the top search results and bring more customers into your dealership to do business.

Max Steckler
Max Steckler Head of Strategic Automotive Partnerships

Max Steckler, is an auto professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects auto dealerships and businesses with their customers.

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