SEO Trends for the Automotive Industry
The 2010s have drawn to a close, leaving us with many iconic innovations in technology (Instagram and the iPad, anyone?). The 2020s are set to bring fascinating updates of their own, but that leaves us with an important question—how do we, as automotive marketers and car dealers, continue to innovate and stay ahead of the curve on technology updates?
In terms of SEO, there are a handful of trends we should maximize on in the new year. By keeping these five predictions at the top of our minds, we will be in for a successful year of search rankings.
1. Always Remember to E-A-T
Today, Google evaluates your site based on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. In a world of fake news and filters, being seen as a reliable site is more important than ever.
Here are some tips on how to E-A-T:
- Be an expert (or hire one). Your content needs to be high-quality, optimized, and airtight in terms of grammar and design. Show that you are a credible source of information by knowing your topic (in our cases: cars) inside and out and linking to other reliable, authoritative sources.
- Be transparent. Authenticity will never go out of style, and consumers trust honesty and openness.
- Understand the intent behind what consumers are searching for in order to give them solutions in the formats they prefer. Always, always, always listen to your audience. The best way to prove to Google that you have expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness is if you have a dedicated, loyal online following.
- Audit your content regularly to see what’s working, cut out what’s not, and test different ways of presenting things.
2. Focus on Structured Data
High-quality content, like always, will be important in 2020. However, algorithms still don’t fully understand the context surrounding this content. This means we need to give Google specific “hints” to better understand and deliver results. We can do this by structuring the data in a way that helps Google better understand not only what is on a page, but also how each element relates to other elements on the page (and also how that page relates to other pages within your website).
“Done right, structured data becomes your marketing data layer,” says Martha van Berkel, CEO of Schema App. “It will allow you to publish your content for any machine/search engine/voice assistant/chatbot with context to provide service to your customers across any surface and at any moment of interaction.”
Leveraging structured data can influence content strategy and, thus, enhance your dealership website’s analytics.
3. Build that Brand
Casie Gillette, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at KoMarketing, says it best: “Customers are getting smarter, and they expect more when it comes to marketing,” Gillette said. “The more they trust you, the more they are willing to share your content (links), talk about you (value), and buy your products (revenue).”
Social media is synonymous with brand-building, and SEO should now be, too. Gone are the days when merely maximizing your keyword strategy and having quality content was enough to draw consumers in—now, people pay more attention to a company’s brand (including its values and what it stands for). Make sure that your brand is definitive and distinct. Make it easily recognizable on every landing page and social media post, and emphasis being a company that takes customer engagement and interaction seriously. Quality matters in branding, so take the time to make sure yours is top-notch.
Additionally, Carrie Rose, Co-founder and Creative Director at Rise at Seven, says: “We can no longer rely on guest posts, forums or directory links or PBNs to build links back to our domains and improve organic sales because SEOs are now the front-line for brand awareness. To encourage links that drive referrals and actual engagements—we need content on-site which users want to see…which tells a story, influences, educates, or entertains. This increases brand awareness and helps businesses drive conversions through SEO.”
4. Brush Up on Your Voice Search Skills
When Comscore, a cross-platform measurement company that measures audiences, brands, and consumer behavior, predicted that 50% of all online searches would be conducted by voice in 2020, it created a radical shift in how we view SEO. While voice search might not be quite up to 50% yet, current statistics show that 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day. With increased importance on voice technology and continued reliance on AI devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, voice search is here to stay. To optimize it fully, keep these strategies in mind:
- Do research to understand the terms that your ideal audience is searching for via voice. Is a potential customer asking, “What Honda dealerships are near me?” or “Honda dealers nearby?” Knowing the particular jargon is highly important to use the right voice-optimized keywords. If you don’t know where to start on this research, our team at Dealer Authority can help you out!
- Make sure your content is optimized and up-to-date by eliminating duplicate pages, grammar errors, outdated contact information, old operating hours, and oversized photos.
- Work to keep your domain authority in tip-top shape, as it is just as important in voice search as it is in traditional search.
Remember: optimize for voice search or risk losing ground in the search game.
5. Focus on Intent Rather than Keywords for Rankability
As search engine algorithms continue to shift and improve, SEO professionals are transitioning to a strategy that focuses on the intent of the content as opposed to the keyword strategy of that content. What we mean by intent falls directly in line with E-A-T– the content that lives on your site should be completely original to your dealership and with the intent to educate your customer on:
- Your available inventory.
- The features of the vehicles.
- The financing options available.
- The services that make your dealership unique in your market.
According to Search Engine Land, searcher intent can be sectioned out into the following categories:
- Informational – This is the most common search query for search engines and could be considered a top-funnel lead. This consumer is trying to learn more about you as a dealership and the services that you offer. For example, an informational searcher that types into Google, “Subaru dealership Boulder, CO” is most likely unaware of the Subaru dealers that are near them in Boulder, but they know that they would like to purchase a Subaru, so they are seeking out the closest Subaru dealership to them.
- Navigational – This consumer already knows your dealership and most likely the type of vehicle they want, but they need more information on this vehicle or about you as a dealer. Searches like “Honda Civic in Raleigh, NC” is an example of a navigational search. The consumer knows they want a Honda Civic, and they are shopping specifically in Raleigh. Navigational searchers are of particular importance to car dealers, as you have the opportunity to convert more leads.
- Commercial – This is a mid-funnel lead. This searcher has the general information that they need, has most likely a specific brand and model in mind, and may already have a dealership in mind to make a purchase–but they have yet to schedule a test drive. This is where custom content (that highlights the perks and services that consumers received by purchasing a car at your dealership) can be highlighted with custom landing pages.
- Transactional – This is your bottom-funnel lead. This searcher is typing in, “Chrysler Pacifica for sale Dayton, OH.” The key differentiator between the commercial and the transitional searcher is the use of the word “sale.” Dealer Authority SEO strategists have experienced instances where searchers are regularly adding “for sale” to their search queries, and by adding this terminology to our custom landing pages, we have made significant impacts on our dealers’ web traffic and monthly leads.
Ready to take on 2020 and take your SEO to the next level? Contact our experts at Dealer Authority—we will be ready and waiting to help your SEO take the leap from good to excellent.
June 2020 Update
When we wrote this blog, no one anticipated the significant events that would occur at the close of quarter one of 2020: a pandemic, civil unrest, major unemployment levels, and a short-term shutdown of the U.S. economy. Car dealers have had to pivot to follow the demands of state regulations for social distancing with delivery options and more robust online ordering programs. With the shutdown and slow re-opening of major OEM factories, inventory has become limited.
Dealer Authority jumped into action by creating custom landing pages that outlined the delivery and online ordering options for dealers. Three months after the pandemic began, “home delivery” keywords continue to convert for dealerships. This year, it is vital to ensure that your dealership’s home delivery programs are not only on your dealership’s website, but that they include rich, informational content that continues to keep your customer up-to-date with continuous changes. Your website should be evolving as information and availability of your inventory evolves.