Here at Spidersnet we have been working tirelessly to ensure that our Learning Hub is full of vital marketing advice to help car dealers with their business. We will be focussing on all subjects from search engine optimisation (SEO) to social media, customer service and more. Today’s guide falls under the category of SEO and focuses on the importance of links in search engine optimisation.
If you have ever done any background reading on Search Engine Optimization, you at some point would have come across the term link, or “backlink”. Over recent years these have become a vital foundation of SEO.
But what exactly is a “backlink” and how do they affect your website’s ability to rank in Google? Similarly, how do you attract backlinks to your car dealer website?
If these are the questions you want to learn more about, then this is the article for you.
WHAT IS A BACKLINK?
A backlink is a link to your website from another website on the web. They can manifest themselves in a number of different forms. The two main types are text links and image links.
These are the most common types of links found on the net. When one page links to another using text, it uses ‘anchor text’. Anchor text simply refers to the text used that forms the physical link itself. Let’s look at an example, where we are linking to our sister site:
‘Caravansforsale.co.uk has lots of motorhomes for sale.’
Here, the term ‘motorhomes for sale’ is the anchor text, because this is the term used for the link itself. However, a text link does not need to be a keyword, it can be anything. For instance:
‘Caravansforsale.co.uk has lots of motorhomes for sale – http://motorhomes.caravansforsale.co.uk/’
In this example, the anchor text is the full URL.
The other common form of backlink found on the internet are image links. These links are placed on images on websites, meaning when someone clicks on the image, it takes them through to another page or site. Examples of these can be found at the bottom of the Spidersnet homepage:
WHAT IS A BACKLINK?
When ranking websites, there are a number of ‘signals’ Google uses to judge a websites quality. Altogether there are over 200 of these quality signals that impact how your website performs in search. Backlinks, however, are widely known to be one of the strongest.
A backlink can be likened to a vote of confidence from one website to another. Generally speaking, if one website owner feels their user will benefit from isomething on another website, they are effectively endorsing that site as a resource. If a website has a number of these ‘endorsements’ from other relevant websites, it will help Google understand that said website is of decent quality. The more quality links a website has, the more credit search engines, like Google, will give to that site. This is why the more quality backlinks your website has, the better the site will perform when it comes to ranking for keywords.
“A backlink can be likened to a vote of confidence from one website to another. Google sees these links as quality signals, using them to influence rankings in rearch results pages”Arren Wilkinson
Backlinks have always played a significant role in shaping Google search results. However, in the past webmasters were able to try and manipulate these results. How? Prior to the Google Penguin update it was very much about the quantity of backlinks a site had, as opposed to the quality. As a result, some website owners and SEO agencies used services to build large quantities of low quality links. These websites have since been punished by Google in the years following the Penguin update.
Find out more about the Penguin and Panda updates in our guide to Google Algorithms…
HOW TO GET LINKS
In order for a website to attract a consistent number of high quality backlinks, it would be advised for you to employ the services of a marketing agency. This is due to the fact that, to attract the best quality links a considerable amount of time must be spent identifying opportunities, relationship building and creating content.
However, there are a number of things that you, as business owners, can do to help improve the link profile of your website. Let’s take a look at some in detail:
A key aspect we discussed in the Google Algorithm post relating to the Penguin update was how the manipulation of low quality directories can lead to a site being penalised. However, there is still an opportunity for high quality directories, relevant to the automotive industry, to provide SEO value for your site. You just need to ensure that the directory you are submitting to allows a link to your website. Submitting your dealer website to carefully vetted business directories that are either motoring or location specific can provide a great SEO boost, especially if your site does not currently have many existing links.
This is also closely linked to business citations, which is another aspect of SEO that can be extremely effective for your business. Click the button to read our guide to business citations.
Try googling terms such as:
‘[your location] business directory’
‘[your location] car dealer directory’
‘businesses in [your location]’
‘car dealer directory’
‘automotive industry business directory’
Take a good look at the directory before submitting. Does it look:
- Highly trafficked
- Good quality
- Updated regularly
If they answer to the above questions is yes, then it will be safe to submit your site.
However, if the site:
- Looks spammy
- Mentions the terms, ‘SEO’ or ‘links’
- Looks low quality
Then you should definitely avoid submissions.
Build it and they will come. One of the best ways to attract natural links to your website is by creating content that your users will want to read. A great way to do this is with a blog. A few things to consider when thinking of topics:
- What topics are trending in the automotive industry?
- Do you find yourself answering the same questions over and over from customers?
- Think of customer pain points, and offer advice on how to deal with them.
- It doesn’t have to be motoring specific, think about what is going on in your local area.
“A blog offers you the chance to spread the word about new announcements and news coming from your dealership. You can also write about the motor industry, events and the goings on behind the scenes. Use it as a place to expres yourself.”
Owners of other websites are much more likely to link to a well written guide, or an article that offers valuable tips and advice on a topic, than to one of your cars. In most cases this will provide more value to their users. Have you mentioned anyone specific in your blog post, or discussed a local event? Once the article has been written, why not send an email to anyone you have referenced in your article, letting them know about it. Do this and there’s a good chance they will link to it.
- Video is a form of content that is not only great for users, but is also loved by Google!
Struggling for ideas of what to write about? Blog content creation is such a vast, but important, topic that we have written an entire blog post about it to get your creative juices flowing. Check it out…
Keep an eye on your mentions
Whether you are the owner of the business, the marketing guy or a sales assistant, the chances are you will have come across mentions of your business online at some point. This could come from a variety of sources such as your warranty or finance provider, or perhaps even a local newspaper?
If this is the case then you are completely within your rights to contact them and request they turn the text mention into a hyperlink to your website. These have the potential to really help boost your websites SEO visibility.
Use your black book
Over the years you will likely have accumulated a significant list of industry contacts. As referenced above, in the blog content section, don’t be afraid to send an email to these people asking for a link to your site. However, having something worth linking to definitely helps with this (wink wink, blog content, wink wink).
Get involced in your community
Some of these things you may well be doing already, but perhaps not obtaining the SEO value you deserve. If it’s not something you are doing currently, you should consider it.
Think about sponsoring a local event, or perhaps a sports team. As well generating great PR for your dealership, there is potential for additional SEO benefit, as any sponsorship will likely result in a link to your site from the sponsoree.
By now we know the role that links from external websites (backlinks) play in how well your website ranks in Google search results pages. However, when utilised correctly, internal links can be a great way to help give some of your own pages a boost in terms of rankings. By internal linking we mean placing a link from one page on your website to another, within your own website.
Every page on your website has its own level of authority, ranking power if you like. Generally speaking, the homepage will be the most authoritative page on your website, followed by category pages (used/cars etc) and then car details pages.
When you link from one page to another, you’re sharing some of the authority from that page to the page you are linking to. As an example, let’s say you have a new range of motorhomes, or a particular car model that you want to push. Writing some additional copy for your homepage that links to that page will likely give it a boost in rankings.
The strength of a website’s backlink profile will significantly impact that sites ability to rank well in Google search results pages.
The nature of the web today means that all websites will attract links via natural means. However, if you want to really get ahead of the game (and your competitors), you need to ensure you are doing everything possible to ensure that you’re attracting quality links from other motoring related websites.
A great way to start would be to follow some of the tips we have mentioned in this article. If you have any queries regarding any of the tips listed above, or would like some further explanation feel free to contact us today. Similarly, if this guide has ignited the inquisitive SEO side of your brain, and you would like to see what sites are linking to you currently, then drop us a line.
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