9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog
Where automotive meets digital marketing.
If you're just getting started with automotive SEO, you've come to the right blog post.
If you don't know what SEO even means, you've definitely come to the right blog post.
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is the process of getting your website to show up organically on search engines like Google and Bing.
In today's Information Age, shoppers — especially car shoppers — are taking the reigns by researching purchases online, rather than waiting for an advertisement or sales call to inform them of their options. That's why SEO is so important. As a core component of the content marketing movement, SEO attracts potential customers to your website, so you're not simply screaming at them from afar.
So how do you get started with automotive SEO?
Rule number one: it's all about keywords.
A keyword is a specific term used on your web page to describe what the page is about. It's a way for search engines to determine which pages will show up for certain search queries.
For instance, if you have a page listing your current tire specials, your keyword might be “tire specials in Portland.” You'd want to use that keyword several times throughout the page to make sure Google picks up on it. That way, when someone types “tire specials in Portland” into Google, you'll show up closer to the top.
But you can't just write “tire specials in Portland” up and down the page and expect to rank first on Google. There are five main places you'll want to park your keywords on your website to get the best SEO. We'll go over each one for you.
1. Page Content
We already gave this one away, didn't we? Consider it a freebie.
While the body copy on your page might be the most obvious place to put your keywords, there's still some strategy involved. You don't want to under- or overuse keywords; the former will confuse readers (and search engines) about your page's content while the latter will tell them you're trying too hard to get on Google.
Plus, writing “tire specials in Portland” fourteen times over just sounds awkward. No one wants to read awkward content. Don't write awkward content by using the same awkward words over and over again on your pages.
When you're writing keywords into your page content, don't forget to include them in your headings and subheadings. That's where the eye (of both the reader and the search engine) is drawn first, so it's important they explain exactly what the page is about.
2. Page Title
Even more important than keywords in your headings are keywords in your page title. That's what you'll see both on the browser tab and on the search engine results page (SERP). Naturally, Google places a lot of weight on page titles.
When writing your title, try to make it interesting without sacrificing your chosen keyword(s). While “Our Cars Are Cooler than Penguins in Antarctica!” might be unique, Google won't be amused. Conversely, “Used Cars in Canada” might describe your page content well, but readers won't want to click on anything that boring. Try to please both search engines and potential customers.
A couple other rules of thumb:
- Place your most important keyword first.
- Keep your page title below 65 characters.
- Don't repeat the same title across several pages.
Why? Because we said so. Just kidding: because Google said so. And when it comes to automotive SEO, we all bow down to Google.
3. URL Structure
Search engine bots love URLs. They crawl them to feel out what the page looks like. (Creepy image, right? Sorry about that.)
Often, your URL will be the same as (or very similar to) your page title. That's fine — no need to reinvent the wheel. Plus, consistency between a URL and its page title helps avoid confusion.
But sometimes, you'll need to tweak your URL to make it more Google-friendly. That means eliminating unnecessary words (like “the”), using hyphens to separate words, and keeping the whole thing under 255 characters.
You might also want to create categories to group similar content together. For example, your URL might have a category structure like this: Johnson Motors –> Used Inventory –> SUVs. This also helps with breadcrumbs (meaning the way users navigate your site in a logical fashion, not what's left on your plate after lunch).
4. Meta Description
If you're still learning about automotive SEO, you might not know what meta descriptions are. That's okay.
But after reading this post, you have no excuse not to use them for each and every page on your website. Got it?
Okay, that's extreme. Especially considering that meta descriptions actually don't have as much impact on search rankings as they used to. However, they are extremely useful for getting visitors to your site.
Let's back up. A meta description is the short blurb of text underneath the page title in a SERP. It tells visitors what the page is about and, more importantly, why they should read it.
It's important to put your keyword(s) in your meta description so people know your page is relevant to their search. But if there's ever a time to value enticing copy over keywords, this is it. The main thing is just to get people to click on your link.
Oh, and a rule to remember: keep your meta descriptions under 150 characters. Otherwise, your text will get cut off in the SERP.
5. Image Title and Alt Text
If your page contains images (and it should, considering readers trust content with images more than text-only content), you need to optimize the image title and alt text.
What are the image title and alt text, you ask?
The title should be obvious. It's what you name the photo. Instead of a random slew of numbers, your image should be called something like “Used 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 in Philadelphia.”
The alt text is a little more ambiguous. Short for “alternative text,” the alt text is a word or phrase (keyword, if you will) that you can insert in the picture's HTML to describe what the image shows in case the visitor can't view it.
Not only is image alt text good for people who are vision impaired, it's also good for search engines (which are also vision impaired). Alt text is what Google uses to categorize and rank images, so if you want your photo to show up in an image search, you'd better have it.
While images are an excellent place to park your keywords, make sure they're relevant to your page — and also not ginormous. Site load time plays a huge role in SEO, so if your image is too large, it could be slowing down your load time — as well as your SEO benefits.
Ready to Learn More about Automotive SEO?
That's a lot to remember, but keyword placement is just the beginning of automotive SEO basics.
If you want to learn more about how to get your dealership to show up on Google, check out our Guide to Automotive SEO. This free eBook will get you going on the road to automotive SEO success.