The automotive industry needs better SEO. That’s a blanket statement because the need is so great. It’s not just dealers. It’s not just vendors. The SEO that goes out there for the majority of the industry is a poor consolidation of ingredients that simply can’t pass the Google or Bing taste test.
We need the entire search engine optimization component of digital marketing to start thinking along the lines of being chefs rather than being optimizers. I know it sounds a little crazy, but the need to be the craftiest person in the room has come and gone. Today, there’s as much art as there is science behind automotive SEO. Having the right “chef” handling the food and serving it to Google and Bing is the key to dealers’ succees.
Let’s take a look at the reasons why this shift has taken place and what dealers should be looking for in order to make it happen.
Why We Need Chefs
There was a time not too long ago when SEO was more of a function of math equations than anything else. You wanted to have the right keyword density in your content to let the search engines know what was most important on the page. You needed to have a saturation of links in a world where more was better. You needed to play the internal linking game within a structure similar to math equations in order to make it all work out for your rankings.
Today, all of that is obsolete. Keyword density is a farce. More links are not necessarily better and having too many can actually hurt. Internal linking – throw the blueprints out the door.
Google figured out how to properly match a good page with the appropriate people searching for that sort of content. They haven’t quite solved it completely, but they are far ahead of what SEOs might consider to be science. In essence, Google (and to some extent Bing as well) has transcended the simple functions of a computer doing equations to determine rankings and can actually “taste” the pages to see if they have the right “flavor” for their searches. It’s not perfect, but it has become beautiful enough that those who learn the recipes and mix everything to the right degree can get better rankings than their competitors.
- They Tell Us the Ingredients – They talk constantly about content, inbound links, site speed, microdata formatting and some of the other public-facing aspects of their search ranking algorithm. They don’t give us everything, but they give us enough to be able to formulate an appropriate recipe to serve to them that highlights the value of a website within this industry.
- They Tell Us Which Ingredients can be Overdone – In the beginning, we learned about keyword stuffing. Then, the search engines told us that it was too much and started rejecting certain pages the way that a taste-tester would reject food that had too much salt. The same is now true for duplicate content, automated page creation, inbound links, and just about everything else that they offer to the public about their algorithm.
- They Tell Us Their Preferences – Just like they say that we have too much salt, they also inform us that they have soft spots on their palate that give us the opportunity to overdo some things that they really, really like. For example, they love high-quality content that people are willing to engage with and share. You can have too much bad content, but you can never have too much good content. It’s a lot like the way I feel about garlic.
How to Find a Chef
Knowing that the game has changed to mimic the automotive industry is one thing. Knowing how to apply it is completely different. It’s easy for us to say, “hire us,” and be done with it, but we realize that not everyone is in a position to pay our price or leave their current contracted vendor. In those situations, here’s what you need to know to make it better.
- Taste the Content – Google and Bing can read content very well and have a great understanding of what is natural and what is faked for their sake. If the content does not roll off your tongue as you read it, then it’s not very good content. The easiest way to write content for search engines is to write it for the people. The bots are better taste-testers than we know.
- Check the Ingredients – Here’s a nasty secret about this industry. In SEO, if something is proprietary or too secret to tell to a client, it either doesn’t really exist or is ineffective. This isn’t software. It’s not a secret formula. All SEO work should be able to fall under your scrutiny and pass the tests of good flavor.
- Do the Searches – Even if you like the content and the ingredients, you have to see if Google does as well. The easiest way is to search. Use standard keywords like “[metro] [make] [model]” that aren’t too hard but that are also not easily achievable without some level of good SEO.
With all of this in mind, it’s important to keep it all in perspective that SEO is not as easy as it looks nor is it as hard as they make it out to be. If you treat your SEO company like a chef, you’ll get the right food to serve the search engines.