Car Dealer SEO: Complete Guide to Better Rankings


Is SEO for car dealers effective? As a car dealer you have one main focus, sell more cars. Any car dealer marketing strategy you decide to invest in should have the same focus. One of the main reasons why SEO is so important to your car dealership’s digital strategy is because SEO positions your business in front of your ideal client when they are looking for your service.

Being able to position your business in front of a prospect when they’re looking for your service gives you a competitive advantage to your competitors. SEO is in fact a competition. 95% of all search volume goes to the first page of search engines.

Benefits of SEO

When someone is looking for a car there’s a high chance they’ll look online to try to get the best deal. If you’re website shows up on the first page, better yet, the first position for a search term that shows clear buyer intent you have a much higher chance of converting that prospect than if you did not show up for that search term. So how do you show up on the first page of search engines for these valuable keywords, simple, through the right SEO strategies.

Mercedes for sale

Why SEO for Car Dealers Is So Effective

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the process of ranking a website higher on search engines (Google, Bing) with the intent of bringing a business more clients, sales, and brand awareness. The right SEO strategy will have your website show up for keywords used throughout the research and buying process.

Developing an Effective SEO Strategy

The right SEO strategy will optimize a website for every keyword that shows clear buyer intent. If you add all of these search terms together you can easily reach 1,000 monthly searches per month. If you get your website on the first page of search engines for all of these valuable search terms you’ll get a fraction of that search volume to your dealer.

If you get even 10% of that the total 1,000 monthly searchers per month to your dealer that’s an extra 100 people in your dealership per month.

The main take away is that there are thousands of keywords a car dealer can optimize their website for to get qualified leads and more importantly increase sales for their business. Getting traffic from keywords that show clear buyer intent, like the keywords I mentioned above will lead to more sales because you’re putting your business in front of clients that are actively looking to buy a car.

Choosing Keywords

Our SEO process starts by choosing a list of keywords that we will target. Depending on your package this will vary. It can be anywhere from 30 to 120 keywords. We look for keywords your target market would type into Google when they’re planning on visiting a dealership in the near future.

The great thing about SEO is that you can figure out what someone is interested in by simply looking at the keyword.

Some of the most valuable keywords any car dealer should go after include the following:

  • “Car Dealer + (City)”
  • “Used Dealer + (City)”
  • “(Car Make) + (City)”
  • “Used (Car Make) + (City)”

When someone is looking specifically for a “used toyota (in) san diego” you know they’re a warm prospect for your car dealer business. Every month there are 110 people searching for a “used toyota (in) san diego”. The image below is a screen shot with the search volume, CPC and competition data right under the search bar.

used car dealer keywords

Toyota makes great cars, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only make with this kind of search volume. Take a look at the search volume for “used honda San Diego”.

honda keywords

90 people per month are looking for a used honda in san diego every month. That’s 90 potential customers that could be going to your dealer.

Now yes these terms vary by city, but If you’re in a large city similar to San Diego you can expect to see similar search volumes.

These search terms don’t have the highest search volumes, but when you start ranking for multiple keywords you begin to see the full effect of SEO.

The image below has a quick list of keywords a car dealer in San Diego would optimize their website for. When you add up all of these keywords you get about 1,000 monthly searches in total.


On Page Optimization

One of the most important aspects to any SEO campaign is on page optimization. This can be as simple as changing the header tags all the way to analyzing and optimizing the structure of your website. With hundreds of on page SEO factors this list is too long for the purpose of this article.

At the end of the day, the best on page optimization is done through intense competitor analysis. We need to understand what your car dealers competition is doing to be on the first page. We’ll take a deep dive into the source code of your competitors and analyze how they built the page that is ranking. Then we’ll recreate that page with your existing content and add to it if necessary.

Off Page Optimization

Off page SEO is equally as important as on page. Although google seems to be moving away from putting so much value on off page optimization be improving their search algorithm, off page optimization still plays a huge role an effective SEO campaign.

So what is off page SEO? Some of the most important factors off page SEO is backlinks and social shares. A backlink is when another website links to your website as a reference. They are hard to obtain and give off a trust signal to Google. Social sharing is when others share your content on social media. Earning backlinks involves reaching out to website admins and pitching your piece of content. Earning high quality, relevant, backlinks is one of the toughest tasks in an SEO campaign. Be sure to stay away from anyone who sells backlinks as this can lead to getting your website penalized or de-indexed. 

User Experience

User Experience (UX) is another SEO factor. This can technically be considered an on page factor. The way that UX affects SEO is that when someone reaches your website and spends a long time on your site it’ll send a positive signal to Google that your site is a good source of information.

Google My Business Optimization

Another valuable asset to your business is your Google My Business listing (GMB). This is basically what shows up on Google Maps. (See Image below)

Google Maps
Your Google My Business Listing is a valuable asset that should be taken serious. It shows up at the top of search engines when any one looks for a local business (including your car dealers)

Optimizing your GMB is known as Local SEO. It’s basically the process of making your dealerships GMB show up in the top three results of the maps so it shows up on the first page (like in the image above). Optimizing your GMB listing is somewhat limited since there is only so much you can do to a GMB.

Optimizing Your GMB

I’ll quickly go over some of the most important factors of optimizing your Google My Business listing so you can have a better idea of how it works.

The most important factor to GMB SEO is known as the consistency of your auto dealership’s information across certain directories. This is known as NAPW: Name, Address, Phone Number, Website. Essentially you’ll have to make sure that information is consistent across all of the directory website that have your business listed. An example of a directory site is Manta.

Once you’ve checked every single directory site you’re listed on you’ll probably need a vacation. It’s a lot of work.

After that you’ll need to get listed on websites that are relevant to your industry. A good example would be Auto Trader.

Other factors that affect the position of your GMB listing include:

  • NAPW Consistency (Mentioned Above)
  • Setting the right category
  • Optimizing images
  • Verify Your Listing
  • Include Keywords
  • Respond to Customer Reviews
  • Get More Customer Reviews
  • + more …

google on laptop

Other Benefits of SEO

When you reach the first page of Google for keywords relavent to your car dealership you’ll see more inbound leads, that’s a given. But some of the more subtle factors you may not notice right away is that even if someone doesn’t click on your car dealer’s website they’ll see your listing on the first page. That’s known as an impression and will add to the overall impression of your brand.

Also, 94% of clicks go to the Organic search results. So paying for Google Adwords won’t have the same effect as if you were to rank organically on the first page. When your car dealerships website hit the first page it creates a sense of trust in the consumer. They feel like you earned that position, which you did, and it’s as if you have the trust of Google. I know that’s a bit of a stretch but the fact that most clicks go to the organic listings supports that idea.

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Roger Avila

Roger Avila

Roger is an SEO Manager at JetRank based out of sunny San Diego, CA.

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