It sure did take a while, but we have finally come to a point where businesses are no longer questioning the importance and value of investing in local search engine optimization (SEO). This is especially true for auto dealerships operating in an extremely competitive market, where an increased prominence on the web translates to more opportunities to secure a sale, service appointment, and even customer loyalty.
While we SEO professionals have earned ourselves a pat or two on the back for establishing local SEO as an integral part of automotive businesses’ marketing strategies, our work is far from done. In order to grow, or even maintain, the impact that we make, it’s important to keep evolving by growing our arsenal through incorporation of new strategies and expanding beyond the traditional scope of local SEO.
Before venturing into uncharted local SEO strategy, let’s take a minute to review the basics, or rather the foundation, of local SEO:
- Add/claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing
- Make sure your name, address, and phone (NAP) is correct and consistent across the web
- Get location citations
- Create high quality content around relevant and popular keywords and topics
- Get backlinks
While most local SEO professionals are able to deliver results by sticking to the basics alone, we are going to look at some advanced strategic measures to guarantee organic success for automotive clients in the digital space.
Develop a Robust Online Review Strategy
In order to deliver a satisfying user search and shopping experience, Google takes the reputation of businesses it displays in its search and map listings very seriously. And what better way to determine the reputation of a business than online reviews, right? Of course, the more positive reviews a business has on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other channels, the greater its chances of appearing in the Google search engine results page (SERP) for relevant local search terms.
Looking at this from the lens of an SEO, we’ll notice this is an excellent opportunity to give a client’s local business profile an edge over its competition in the digital organic space via a robust online review strategy.
Now, there are two ways to go about collecting these reviews: the right way and the wrong way.
The right way involves reaching out to customers once the sale has been made or service has been performed and asking them to share their experience, positive or negative, through a review on the web. A link to the review page may be emailed to the customer to make the whole process more convenient. Unfortunately, a customer is more likely to leave a review online if they had a bad experience, but requesting or encouraging them to share their experience with others is a risk definitely worth taking as positive reviews help potential customers make decisions faster and with greater confidence.
The wrong way involves generating fake positive reviews by hiring shady third party review vendors. While the review count is guaranteed to increase, the joy is certain to turn to ashes within no time as Google takes very strict action against fake reviews. The worst that can happen is that the business loses all the benefits of the fake reviews. It should be noted that severe infractions could result in a lawsuit, costing much more than time and money.
Involvement within the Community
Involvement within the community is something that many businesses view as an excellent and reliable way of increasing their local brand recognition. But what we local SEOs must realize is that it also presents a wonderful opportunity to build a favorable online reputation and get those coveted local citations. As a business volunteers time, energy, and finances to a community organization or team for traditional or non-profit benefits, we must reach out to whoever’s managing the websites of these organizations or teams and get a backlink. This may be done by requesting the manager to add the client’s name and link to a sponsorship or donor page, or mentioning it in a relevant blog post.
Optimize Your GMB Listing
If local SEO can be brought down to one thing, it has to be Google My Business (GMB). Its importance has only been growing in recent years, and Google has shown no signs of easing its effort for making GMB the most crucial entity for a business’ local search results in the near future.
With that being said, it only makes sense for SEO professionals to direct a lot of our efforts and energy into ensuring that the GMB profile for our client’s business is fully optimized for the Google search engine.
Fortunately, optimizing GMB is far easier than optimizing an entire website. While the discussion on GMB optimization can be extended to several pages, a heavily summarized list should suffice for now:
- Make sure the business’ information is 100% correct, accurate, up-to-date, and consistent with other listings
- Be sure to select the correct business category
- Mention accurate hours for sales, service, and parts departments. The importance of their accuracy cannot be emphasized enough
- Add multiple photos of the dealership, covering both the interior and exterior. If anything changes, be sure to add new photos
- Respond to questions, or if there are none, then populate the FAQs section by preemptively answering questions commonly asked
- Respond to reviews, especially the negative ones, or have someone from the auto dealership respond
- Use GMB posts and events
- Encourage reviews with relevant keywords in them
The list is expected to grow with every passing week as Google continues to put more emphasis on GMB.
As Google continues to focus on delivering an improved search experience, the SEO team at Aronson Advertising is keeping a close eye on digital developments and constantly enhancing our strategies to serve our clients’ bottom line.
Did we miss something or do you have something more to add? Let us know in the comments section below. Also, if you’re passionate about local SEO and are looking to take your professional career to the next level, we would love to talk to you. Please reach out to us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on (847) 297-1700.