What is SEO and why is it important?
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.