What is SEO and why is it important?

by | Mar 20, 2015

Here at Spidersnet we work hard to ensure that our dealers are as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to all aspects of online marketing! That is why we set up the Spidersnet Learning Hub. It is in here that we will be creating a wide range of guides covering a number of topics from search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media to customer service and website design.

We thought we would kick off by talking all about search engine optimisation. There will be a number of car dealers out there who will know all about SEO, however there will also be plenty of you who know nothing about this incredibly important aspect of digital marketing. That’s why we have put together this useful and informative guide to help you learn all about the basics of SEO.

 

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the discipline that focuses on ensuring your website appears high up on search results pages. This mainly focuses on Google, which is by far the most influential search engine, but it is also targeted to Bing and Yahoo as well.

If you are after a dictionary definition then you might end up taking to the web. And, whilst there may be a number of different descriptions for SEO online, the ultimate definition is pretty straight forward:

 

“Search engine optimisation is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.”

– Webopedia

 
There are a number of actions that you can take and things that you can do both on your website, and in other areas of the web to help you move your dealership’s website higher up in search results pages. In this guide we are outlining the basics of SEO to give you a nice clear understanding of what it is, however, down the line we will have a number of other guides to offer you insights on how you can improve your website’s rankings!

 

Why is SEO important?

According to the Office for National Statistics, 82% of the UK population access the internet on a daily basis. This accounts for an astounding 41.8 million users every single day. When we consider these statistics, it is clear that this is a ‘Digital Age’ in which we live, and any business that wants to maximise its success must be willing to integrate a digital strategy into its marketing. The battle for sales has very much moved from the forecourt, onto the web.

Whilst other respective digital marketing practices such as Pay Per Click Advertising, Social Media and Email Marketing can be great ways to target and engage with potential customers online, nothing has the longevity or potential for sustained positive impact as SEO. This is why it is the bedrock of any digital marketing campaign.

Effectively, the higher your website ranks in Google (with 87% market share in UK), the more traffic your website will receive. The more traffic your website receives, the more leads you will generate and, ultimately, the more cars you will sell.

SEO may not have the glamour of television commercials, or general appeal of social media. What it does offer however, is a highly targeted stream of internet users looking for motoring products and services, as well as tangible opportunities for business growth and brand building. Ultimately, the internet is the fastest growing sales channel.

In a study conducted by Hubspot it was discovered that 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of results. I’m sure most of us can relate to this, right? It’s a rarity that the results returned on page one would not fill your needs as a searcher. This is why it’s vitally important that your website is in and around the top 10 results for the keywords that are going to drive you traffic.

 

This last sentence pretty much perfectly captures the importance of SEO in a nutshell. It’s great having a website, and hoping people will find it by searching for your brand, or entering the URL directly. But in order to really start driving yourself significant inbound enquiries, you need to be ranking for keywords relating to car sales within your area.

Google itself has carried out extensive research on the behaviour of its users within the automotive purchasing cycle, and it has uncovered some interesting statistics. For instance, did you know that 63% of people searching for a new vehicle online begin their search with a specific brand in mind, but only 20% end up purchasing the vehicle they first researched online? The full report can be found here, it’s definitely worth a read if you get a chance.

 

The interesting point for the car dealer industry, is that a consumer’s use of a search engine extends significantly further than at the mere point of purchase. Before buying, consumers will spend hours researching different makes and models, gauging others opinions on review sites and forums, comparing performance specs etc. Similarly, all vehicles require aftercare, cleaning, MOTs and servicing. Ultimately, this means there are ample opportunities within the purchasing cycle of a vehicle to both expose your brand to potential customers and generate more business.

 

What is Google looking for?

So what does Google look for in a website when deciding the order of its search results? Overall there are about 200 different signals Google uses in it’s algorithm. As you can probably imagine, it is a full time job, and no one quick route to success. However, the general consensus amongst nerds like myself is that the two most critical things your website needs to have to stand a good chance of ranking well is good quality content and having links from external websites.

These links effectively act as endorsements, or votes of confidence from another website to yours, and if you have a decent level of these from other reputable domains, you are forcing Google to stand up and take notice. For more information on link building, as well as some tips to get you started, see our handy guide here. The fact that Google considers well written, high quality content one of its main ranking factors is great news. Why? Because it’s easy!

Sure it takes a bit more time and effort to ensure all your pages contain useful relevant information that will benefit the user, that all of your car descriptions are unique, and that you do a great job in selling your company on the homepage. But at the end of the day, car dealers are experts in the automotive industry, and if you’re an expert, then it shouldn’t be difficult to offer value in your content to people who aren’t. We’ve written an extensive guide on why content is important for SEO, along with some ideas to get you started. Give it a read and get started right now!

Ultimately, in 2016 and beyond, the internet has become the first port of call for potential car buyers. Therefore, it’s vitally important that, you not only have a website, but your website is visible in the search engines, acting as a digital portal to your bricks and mortar dealership.

 

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