The online space has created opportunities for dealerships and automotive brands to expand their audience reach and engagement. Through smart digital marketing, a dealership can not only engage with potential customers in their local PMA, but also grow brand awareness in a much larger domain.

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is something all dealers should be utilising. SEO has two sides – onsite and offsite. The onsite SEO relates to your dealership’s website and how it gets indexed by search engines. This includes your use of metadata and tags, along with appropriate text content to let Google know who your audience is and what your website is about.

That might sound easy, but too many times over, dealers are missing out to multi-national brands that are better utilising their web presence. We have always advised our customers to put themselves in the shoes of their customers, whether that be past or present (and I will come back to this point shortly). If your customer is coming to your website, what are they looking for? After dealerships hit the internet, the first stage was getting their products on the web so people can learn more about them. This evolved from text and photos, to videos and 360 degree virtual tours. With manufacturer sites now doing a great job of showcasing each model, does the dealership level website need to have all this content?

Why not offer something unique and helpful. If a potential customer has already looked at a brand new Toyota Camry on the Toyota Australia website, which they found as the first listing on Google search, do they really need to see it all again on your website?

Why not use your website to showcase what is different about your dealership, the services you provide and the value they can get by dealing with you. They have already chosen their car, they are looking to find the best place to drive it and buy it.

Coming back to past customers now, your website can also make it easy for them to book services, enquire about parts, search for used cars and keep up to date with what is happening at the dealership. A recent client we had found that more than 60% of their website visitors were local and were coming to the website to book in for their next service.

By knowing what your customer is looking for, you can ensure your website is providing maximum value and support – two things that every customer wants.

So we now know what your website needs to provide, whats next?

Create, create, and create. Content is king not only for your customers, but for search engines like Google search. They are looking to find answers to search terms, and sites where users can go to get value. Make sure your website delivers. We always recommend a blog or news section for dealership websites. Not only is this a place to post updates about vehicles, staff and dealership news, but also somewhere to show your authority in your field, showcase your services and awards, and also create helpful guides that users can follow. ie. 3 Things your Car Needs Before Winter Arrives

Once you understand the journey users must take to get to your site and to your dealership from online, you can create a path for them to follow. Try getting a large piece of paper and creating a flowchart illustrating the paths users can take.

How did they find you online?

What page are they landing on?

Are they spending time reading or watching?

What do they do after they have found the answer to their query?

Create suitable content to encourage flow and direction on your website. If someone is searching for Toyota Camry, be sure to make it easy to book a test drive. If they need to book a service, have a call to action or form to allow them to. If they want to find their local dealer, make sure your site shows them where you are, as well as your local community involvement, awards and reasons why you are worth visiting. Customers are no longer looking at the two local dealers in their town, the internet means you could be competing with dealers across the state. You need to show your point of difference.

I have content on my website, now what?

Search engines like Google and Bing need to deliver to their user the most relevant content to the entered search term, as well as ensuring the site they are sending the user to is safe, not-spammy, and a hub of information.

They judge this criteria using complex algorithms. Don’t try and understand them,  but know that to get found online, your website needs to contain useful information including, your contact details and services, location details, a good description of what you do and who you are, and adequate use of keywords and phrases in content, tags and metadata. This might all sound quite technical, but in reality, if you are creating useful content on your website, its just a matter of then using creative titles and ensuring your know where to fill in the metadata. Most dealer website providers allow you to set the meta title and description. These are also the same title and description that shows up in Google and Bing searches. Your website provider should be able to help you with this, ask them where you fill in your meta data titles and descriptions.

Note: your images also use metadata in the form of ‘alt’ tags. As search engines cannot actually see the picture, the tag informs them what the image is and what it relates to. This can also be a  great place to add your keywords in.

What makes your website work best is not only having useful content on a clean, mobile friendly, spam free site, it also requires links. Links are created by other sites pointing to your site by URL. This might come from another page on your site, an external site like CarSales or The Motoring Report, an online directory or perhaps a social media profile. Each of these links is given authority by search engines. The more you have the better, although in most cases, the more quality links you have the better you will rank.

Years ago it was common to limit the amount of outbound links from your site, and focus on internal links and links to your sites from higher ranking sites. In 2017, Google is looking for information hubs, so having a good mix of internal content and links to useful sites helps. Having a blog with helpful guides and updates is great, while links to authoritative sites like Wikipedia and gurus in your field help too. Think about it from a search engine point of view. Your site needs to offer the most useful information for a user that will help them with their search enquiry. If Google or Bing believe your site contains helpful information as well as links to sites where you can find more targeted information, it will send the user there. If other people are linking to your site as a point of reference or authority, you will rank better as search engines believe you are an expert in your field. The bigger an expert you look, the better you will rank. Of course, there is a lot more to it, but this is the basics.

Building content and links on higher ranking sites can drive more traffic to your website, as well as help establish your brand name. We often tell dealerships to reach out to local community groups, car review sites and news websites to create articles that can then link back to the dealer’s website. This helps both users and search engines find you. Think about it this way, if that Toyota Camry buyer was looking online to learn more about the vehicle, they might visit the Toyota Australia website, as well as check out the competition on CarSales, and then maybe peruse a few reviews on the car. Imagine now that the review they find online recommends test driving the Camry at your dealership as you offer ‘such and such’ as a point of difference and value, with a helpful button or link sending them to your website. This is a valuable link that not only attracts the right audience, but also sends them to your site through a link. This will benefit your site as search engines will see that Camry buyers are looking for your site. This is only one vehicle model, if you had reviews, articles and links pointing back to you for all your services, that is when you start getting somewhere.

Reach out to sites that review your cars, or provide directory listings and make sure you are on there. Don’t forget local directories too like local search, Yellow Pages and Google Business and Map listings. If you sponsor a group or event, ask them to link to you on their website. Social signals also help. Links from people sharing your content on social media like Facebook creates social trust in the the eyes of Google search. Sharing your blog or news articles on your own Facebook page is a great way to build on this.

Search engines penalise sites that are spammy, and look to be over optimising. To avoid this, build really useful content that people will want to read. Focus on the user, and include lots of helpful information. Keep your link anchor text natural with around 10% containing your keywords. Also ensure your website loads fast and has caching enabled and images optimised. All this will help you avoid search engine penalties and rank you better in search results.

2017 is all about mobile devices. Make sure your site performs on small screens too!

Your content needs to not just fill up your website space, it needs to be useful information that past and potential customers are looking for. Blog posts about service and safety topics always works well, as well as photos and video of a recent event. This gets engagement through social channels.

How to get found in more Places

The most important advice I can give you is to research your ideal client. Find out as much as you can through feedback or purchase reporting. Where did they hear about your brand, where do they live, what are their interests, how old are they, and all those personal questions.

We basically want to find out as much as possible. Why? Because lets say they listen to the radio a lot, you might think radio advertising is the ideal choice. But if they listen to community radio or channels like Triple J, you may miss them when you advertise on commercial radio stations.

Where did they find you? They may have found you online, although not necessarily on Google search. Perhaps they used an app on their mobile like Yelp or TripAdvisor to search for your product or service.

#stalking

Bottom line is, if you know where your customer is most attentive to product placement ads and listings, you can ensure that you are listed in those places and focus on building rank to out-rank your competitors in that listing. Try something different every now and then with your advertising. Think outside the box. Perhaps a sports event or festival might be full of your potential customers, see if you can advertise or sponsor the event.

Data mining is also a great way to target your demographic. By drilling down to the household level through data reports, you can then create unique content and advertising specifically for each audience in your PMA. For example, you might want to target Toyota Prado ads and content to young families, whilst Yaris ads to young singles. If you know your PMA and the people that make it up, you can better attract and engage with them through smarted digital strategies. This can also help determine the content topics for your website’s blog, as well as social media pages.

DriveSocial can help dealers breakdown and analyse their PMA. Through a partnership with data experts Experian, we can really see who makes up your primary buyers and decide on the best way to target our products to them. Use the support form to ask about Experian Reporting.