9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog
Where automotive meets digital marketing.
Building backlinks to improve automotive SEO is one of the most difficult tasks for a car dealership battling others for the edge in cyberspace.
However, dealerships that own more than one store have a distinct advantage. Because they have multiple websites, they’re in charge of their own backlinking destiny.
So if you have multiple stores with separate websites, how can you capitalize on this backlinking strategy?
What Is a Backlink?
We'll start with a few basics. A backlink is an inbound link, or a link that leads from another location on the web back to your own site.
Backlinks are important for three basic reasons, as outlined by our marketing partner HubSpot:
- The right links can drive visitors to your site, who can later convert into leads.
- Links help search engines find and index all the content on your site.
- The number and quality of links to your site help determine your page rank, which is basically a measure of how important Google thinks your website is. Your page rank helps determine how you show up on Google for many search terms.
How to Build Backlinks for Automotive SEO
For a general overview of building backlinks, we highly recommend reading this post by the SEO experts at Moz. Google is notorious for constantly changing its ranking rules and algorithms, and Moz always has its finger on the pulse of the latest industry trends.
Case in point: Moz just earned a backlink from 9 Clouds by being an industry expert. Its blog is so good that I subscribed to its email list and now read each entry. That’s one way to earn links.
But Moz is in the business of digital marketing. That is its expertise and livelihood. Your expertise is selling cars.
You probably don't have the time or resources to build an industry-leading blog. But there are plenty of other ways to earn those backlinks.
Multiple Stores: The Built-in Advantage
Dealerships often earn backlinks by advertising on sites like Autotrader.com or Cars.com. Dealers can also submit their websites to car-related directories and link out to other websites (with the hopes of earning links back in).
Single stores rely largely on these tactics. They also practice internal linking, or building relevant links within a single website.
But if your dealership has more than one store, and therefore multiple websites, you have an advantage over single dealerships. You aren’t limited to internal linking. You can backlink between your stores to build each website’s automotive SEO and ranking authority.
How Do You Do That?
Let’s say you have a Honda dealership in Missouri. You own four stores in a 200-mile region. Backlinking opportunities abound.
On your website for Vandelay Honda St. Louis, you write a blog post using the keyword phrase “Honda Accord for sale in Missouri.” You can link this phrase to your other stores (for more on that practice and other general blogging tips, read this).
By linking to your other lots, you are earning traffic for those stores. Best of all, you are creating relevant backlinks and earning SEO authority for that phrase — for all your stores.
Back to the Moz article. Here’s a great takeaway:
“General rule of thumb: If you can’t find any way to justify how something that you’re doing for SEO also benefits a visitor, maybe you should reconsider it.”
You are helping the user by showing them other Hondas for sale in Missouri. Google likes this. Google does not like irrelevant links stuffed in headers and footers.
Backlinking isn’t limited to blogging, either.
You could also link to the other stores within your inventory. Let’s say someone is looking for a used Honda Civic for under $12,000. If you have one in Columbia but not Missouri, you can still list it as inventory on the St. Louis website and provide a link to the Columbia vehicle detail page (VDP).
Be careful here, though. If a customer from St. Louis inquires about a test drive, be ready to have the car delivered to St. Louis at no charge for that test drive. Otherwise, it may seem like false advertising.
Different Brands? No Problem!
Maybe things aren’t quite so simple. Maybe you have five dealerships in Illinois, but they are all different brands.
If that's the case, take a different approach with your keywords. You could blog about “SUVs in Illinois” and link to SUV inventory pages for Buick, Jeep, Toyota, Ford, and Kia.
There are many ways to build these backlinks. One more from Moz:
“Internal links that tend to perform the best, the ones that help the most tend to be the ones that drive real traffic, and they sort of continue a visitor’s journey. They help people find what they’re looking for, and it’s also the case that the ones that don’t drive traffic, that aren’t perceived as helpful seem to have less of an impact on the pages they link to.”
This applies to backlinking also. As long as you are continuing the visitor’s journey, you won’t be penalized by Google.
Other Areas to Place Backlinks
Here are a few other ideas to get you started on your backlinking journey.
- Home pages: There’s nothing wrong with showing the visitors on your St. Louis site that you have four other dealerships in the state.
- Navigation menus: Again, a Honda shopper would be interested in a dropdown option showing what your other Honda dealerships have in stock. You could include this in an “About Us” section.
- Contact pages: Link out to your other dealership sites so people know how to contact them.
Join Us for Our Automotive SEO Webinar
Backlinking is just one method you’ll want to master as you look to improve the automotive SEO for your dealership.
Want to learn more? Register for our free webinar series for more information on backlinking and best practices for automotive SEO.