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Guest opinion: how can dealers boost their search rankings?

Karen McKenzie Dragon2000

Dealers that are looking to boost their organic search presence will benefit from reviewing their search engine optimisation, bearing in mind Google’s top factors that influence their rankings.

Not surprisingly, the top two ranking factors are content and links and as Google themselves state in their own quality guidelines for websites, it is important to write content aimed at users, not search engines. If dealers have plenty of unique and relevant content on their website, which differentiates them from their competitors, they will be rewarded by Google.

This content needs to be refreshed and updated regularly to help improve page rankings. If dealers have duplicate copy that they have taken from other dealer websites, it can damage not only their rankings, but also their professional reputation.

Links are also a very important factor in search rankings.

Dealers should be looking to build an authoritative and natural external link profile for their website, with links to their sites that are from industry-related and trustworthy websites.

If a dealer website has a link from a generic blog website with little traffic, it could harm their ranking, whereas a link from reputable motor trade related site will only improve website rankings, so links direct to their website from the big online advertising portals, or motoring news sites who have substantial traffic would be of benefit.

Advertising vehicles on reputable sites that will link through to a dealer’s website and sending press releases to relevant news sites asking them to also publish their website link is a worthwhile exercise for dealers, for SEO purposes.

In late 2015 news broke that Google had launched an artificial intelligence system called RankBrain that sorts through search results, adapting them to the specific search query.

Bloomberg reported at the time that in tests, the system beat search engineers at page selection, with humans guessing correctly 70% of the time, whilst RankBrain had a success rate of 80%, and within just a few months of its launch, had become the third most important factor contributing to Google search results.

The importance of RankBrain to Google’s search rankings means that dealers should ensure that their pages and blog posts feature keywords that their target audience are actively searching for.

There are at least 200 factors that affect the way Google ranks websites. 

However, the most important thing for dealers to remember is that if their websites feature unique and engaging content, together with good quality links, this will help boost their rankings.

Good content that is relevant and engaging, along with high quality photography and video to capture the interest of the visitor will SEO well.

If possible, a dealer should be looking to produce content around topics that are of interest to the majority of motorists and consumers, that way increasing their audience and organic click-through rate.

Topics dealers could write about include: legislation news, motoring tips and advice, local community activities they may be involved in, their special offers/promotions and testimonials from their existing customers.

If dealers optimise their websites with these key SEO elements, they can make their sites more accessible.

These elements include content updates, sitemaps, a mobile-responsive website, site speed, URL length and a user-friendly experience.

Below are some key factors that significantly impact SEO:

  • Adding relevant and engaging content to your website. Well written blog posts on your website about your company and motoring related articles will help, as will a stock page showcasing your vehicles for sale.
  • Ensure you have a listing on Google My Business, (which used to be Google Places) where you display opening hours, phone number and your location on Google Maps. Make sure the information is accurate, as Google will either call or send a letter to verify it is a genuine business.
  • Have the business name, address, phone number and social media profiles on every page in exactly the same format on your website (a page footer is recommended for this).
  • Encourage your customers to leave reviews on google. Other directory site reviews will help, but Google should be the priority.
  • Engage with social media and encourage interactions and reviews from customers on Facebook and Twitter. Ensure your location is the same on your social media profiles as it is on your Google My Business Page.

Author: Karen McKenzie (pictured), operations manager, Dragon2000

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