Admit it: when you hear the phrase “car dealer”, the first image that comes to mind is a probably a guy wearing a cheesy suit give you a hard sell on an overpriced car. Time to erase that image from your mind! Today’s car dealers are pretty savvy marketers, especially when it comes to SEO.
Here are four lessons your small business can learn from car dealers and auto manufacturers.
SEO Lessons For Small Business
NAP Citation Consistency Matters
The recent changes to Google’s PPC display ad format push organic SERP results below the fold. Now, Google is displaying up to four paid search ads at the very top, and removing side bar ads altogether. That’s bad news for small businesses that may be out-performed in the new competitive PPC ad space. But there’s also a silver lining: Google’s local map pack is still appearing above organic SERP. If your business can get a spot on the local map pack, you’re golden. Car dealers know just how important this local map pack spot can be, and how critical NAP citations are for strong local search result placement.
In the above example, I’ve Googled “car dealer Austin” and the search results are partially based on my physical location at the time of this search. If these dealerships had the wrong address, they might not show up in the results at all. Or worse, if I actually went to the address, they might lose the possibility of my business altogether since I’d be unlikely to track them down at their correct address.
NAP (name, address, phone) consistency matters! It’s the first and most important step for successful local search optimization. Ensure your NAP is correct across ALL citations, including Google, Yelp, Bing, etc. Otherwise, you could end up losing customers to the competition. Not sure what to do about multiple locations? Check out this cheat sheet to multiple locations local search optimization here.
Engage Customers BEFORE They Enter Your Storefront (or Dealership)
Don’t wait until the customer is in your showroom to start nurturing a relationship. Get potential customers excited about your cars well in advance through interactive websites and engaging social media campaigns. Abarth Cars UK, which offers sport car rentals, has one of the best interactive websites in the auto marketplace, offering everything from a virtual tour of their showrooms to a history of Fiat racing. They keep the excitement building on their Instagram account, which showcases the brand’s racecars, like the Abarth 124, leaving its followers with a definite need for speed!
Keep an Eye On Your Reviews
According to BrightLocal, 85 percent of customers read online reviews before deciding on a business. You can’t control what people say about your business, but you can encourage satisfied customers to leave a positive review! Car dealers, for example, increasingly understand that no one likes to be hustled into a purchase. How will consumers find out if a dealership is going to pressure them into a decision or respect their time? Would-be buyers head straight to help.
Consider these Yelp reviews for two different car dealers in Seattle, Washington. Auto Quest has a 4.5 star ranking and glowing reviews like these:
Then there are the one-star reviews like the following (which I’ve cut for space) for Carhop Auto Sales & Finance that are enough to send any potential customer running the other way! While Carhop does have a 3.5 star rating, it also has a number of angry reviews like these, implying that Carhop rips off its customers by overcharging uninformed buyers and selling them lemons.
Trust is everything for sales. If a dealer isn’t trusted based on online reviews, a customer is less likely to walk in the door. The same goes for just about any local business. It’s already an uphill battle to build customer trust: don’t make it any harder on yourself by turning a blind eye to your reviews! Online reviews impact your rankings in local search engines, which search results get clicked, and ultimately influence a consumer’s purchasing decisions.
Show Prices in Inventory Results
Let’s say you live in Austin, Texas and you’re shopping around for a deal on used cars. You do a quick Google search and the following deals come up:
That 2015 Toyota Camry for $15,993 could be a pretty good deal, but you decide to keep searching. So you check out another local Austin dealership and get this result:
In place of a price, it’s the dreaded “Please Call” message. Yikes! Consumers are unlikely to call for the price because they’re left with the impression that they’re being hustled. If no price is posted, they could be quoted anything. This destroys customer trust (see above) and just makes the sale that more difficult. That’s why major car websites, like Car Gurus, increasingly offer full, transparent pricing online – and your business should, too.
Bottom line: Winning local SEO requires a combination of strategies. From citation alignment and social media engagement to pricing transparency and reviews, follow these four SEO lessons for small business to boost your local search rankings.
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