SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of getting your auto site’s content to rank higher on search engines like Google.
Seems simple enough, right?
It is…if you know what you’re doing.
Fortunately, the team here at Startup Voyager is very well-versed in SEO.
More specifically, we’re experts on the unique needs and requirements of automotive SEO in particular.
After all, the auto industry is a very specialized one and warrants a bunch of different techniques that go beyond traditional SEO.
So, let’s explore the ins and outs of automotive SEO to better understand what it involves and how you can leverage it for your auto business.
You’ll Learn About:
- What Is SEO for Auto Companies?
- How Is Automotive SEO Different from Traditional SEO?
- A Guide to Automotive Keyword Research
- What Good Automotive Content Needs
- Why Automotive SEO and Local SEO Are Inseparable
- Don’t Forget Schema Markups
- Customer Reviews: An Automotive SEO Must-Have
- Design Your Website Well
- Implement Technical SEO Best Practices
Let’s get started!
What Is SEO for Auto Companies?
SEO for auto companies, or automotive SEO, is a digital marketing approach that uses specialized strategies to rank automotive websites on search engines.
High rankings on these search engines can, in turn, increase the visibility of your automotive company and boost your website’s traffic.
But what do these strategies include?
They include using techniques like content optimization, link building, site audits, etc., but tailoring them to the automotive industry. Doing so makes it easier for customers to find you and learn more about your services.
You’ve just opened an auto repair shop that can provide the best service in your area. However, local car owners haven’t discovered your services since they don’t know you exist yet.
That’s where automotive SEO comes in!
Through various best practices, you can show up whenever someone in your area searches for auto repair on Google. Add a pinch of good automotive marketing, and you’ll have them switching over from subpar workshops in no time.
The best part?
The higher you rank, the more likely a customer is to click on your website. According to FirstPageSage, the top-ranking organic search result has a 39.8% click-through rate (percentage of total visitors clicking on a link).
Think of it this way:
It’s like having the first available gas station on a never-ending highway. People are going to jump at the opportunity to refill at yours because who knows what lies ahead!
Okay, so we’ve got the basics out of the way.
But what if you’ve already done your due diligence on SEO?
Well, it’s important to know that automotive SEO isn’t like regular SEO.
Traditional SEO strategies by themselves may not be enough to keep you ahead of your competitors.
Let’s explore how the two differ.
How Is Automotive SEO Different from Traditional SEO?
Traditional SEO practices will help you rank higher on search engines by optimizing your website and building content around specific keywords. It’ll help you generate more website traffic, though not necessarily the right traffic.
On the other hand, automotive SEO incorporates traditional SEO practices while also being more location-focused and transactional.
This helps you target monetarily beneficial keywords and draw organic traffic that’s more likely to convert.
It also makes you more relevant to customers in your serviceable area — not the whole world.
After all, what’s the point of numerous visitors who may never book a service or test drive?
Imagine a person in Los Angeles who wants to find a car dealer that has a specific auto part. It wouldn’t help if they found a dealer website (or store) that’s located all the way in New York.
Sure, they could order the part, but if they need the part urgently, they’d prefer going to an auto dealership in the same city.
Automotive or car dealer SEO makes it easier for you to show up to customers that you can service.
Get where we’re going with this?
Now, let’s explore the strategies that come into play.
A Guide to Automotive Keyword Research
Keyword research is the key to good automotive SEO. 🔑
It’s the process of finding search terms or queries that users enter into search engines while looking for information.
Targeting these queries can help your auto service (whether a car dealership or repair shop) rank higher for searches relevant to your audience.
Though it’s not as simple as it seems.
You need to consider different factors like:
- Search volume: A measure of how many people search for that particular keyword or query in a month.
- Keyword difficulty: An evaluation of how difficult it is to rank on page 1 for certain keywords. It’s calculated based on various factors, like backlinks, page authority, etc.
- Cost per click: A metric that details the price for each click on an online search ad (Google ad) based on a keyword.
- Search intent: The intended purpose behind an online search (what information or content the searcher is looking for).
So where do you start?
The first step is determining what types of keywords you’ll use.
You’ll likely need to tackle these kinds of keywords in the automotive industry:
1. Short-Tail Keywords
Short-tail keywords cover broad topics and generally contain one to three words.
They typically have the highest search volume, but they also usually have a very high keyword difficulty. This means they’re the most difficult keywords to rank for.
Some examples of such keywords are “car repair,” “used cars,” and “auto repair.”
Here’s a look at short-tail keywords like “auto repair”:
Note how these keywords have a high keyword difficulty (KD), Volume (V), and Global Volume (GV). They also have a high cost per click (CPC) for search ads (Google ad).
2. Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords have a more specific intent than short-tail keywords, usually about the topic, location, or audience it’s targeting.
These keywords are long phrases that address a highly specific search query. This specificity means fewer people are typically searching for that query, leading to a lower search volume and lower to high keyword difficulty (depending on the topic).
So, they can be easier to rank for and have a greater potential for conversions!
Here’s an example to explain:
Consider the keyword: “check engine light on but car runs fine.”
This keyword has an average search volume (1.5K) and medium ranking difficulty (25). However, the chances of someone turning up at your repair shop are high if your website is one of the top search results for this keyword.
Here are a few more examples.
3. Informational Keywords
These keywords include queries used by people who want information.
This can include searches like “mechanic labor rate,” “how much does car maintenance cost,” and so on.
The goal is to build organic traffic by targeting users who want to learn more about a service or vehicle. And by being a reliable source of information, you help build their trust in your business.
4. Commercial Keywords
Such keywords typically target specific brands, products, or services. You can also think of them as branded keywords.
The search intent here is an interest in purchasing a product or service. However, it’s more at the informational stage. Take, for example, keywords like “Bruce’s car dealership,” “battery replacement,” etc.
Moreover, you should ensure you rank for your branded keywords (keywords that include your brand’s name).
You don’t want competitors piggybacking off your reputation or stealing the show.
Notice how AAA runs ads for its own brand name to prevent competitors from appearing at the top of the results through search ads).
As far as part or car-specific terms, these are also great opportunities that typically have low KDs. Here are a few examples:
5. Transactional Keywords
Transactional keywords comprise queries with the strongest intent to buy a product or service. They represent the queries of customers who are ready to make a purchase.
These keywords usually contain words like buy, sale, service, etc.
Plus, due to their transactional nature, you might need to tailor your content based on different locations where it would be most impactful. You might even have to create multiple variations of the same content for each area to maximize your visibility.
Examples of such keywords include “used car for sale near me” or “buy spark plugs online.”
These are some examples:
6. Location Keywords
This builds on what we talked about in the previous point
These keywords typically specify a service in a specific location (local search), which indicates they target a specific audience.
This means they probably won’t have a high search volume, but they have a high chance of converting visitors — like long tail keywords.
Examples of such local search keywords include “mobile mechanic in Seattle” or “used car for sale in Houston.”
Why is ALL this work necessary?
Auto businesses need to use a diverse range of keyword types since it helps target customers at different stages of the customer journey.
Plus, covering multiple topics (or related keywords) in a cluster is important to build authoritativeness.
For example, a “brake repair” cluster could contain multiple topics, like “worn brake pads,” “hard brake pedals,” “squeaky brakes,” and so on.
Covering a wide range of topics in a cluster helps you provide value to your readers and improve customer experience. This helps build your website’s authority on the topic, which impacts your search engine ranking strength for that topic.
Moreover, building authoritativeness is important to comply with Google’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) guidelines which dictates what ranks.
How do you discover topics to create a comprehensive cluster?
You can use tools like Ahrefs, Moz Keyword, and Google Ads Keyword Planner to research which keywords work best for your automotive marketing goals.
You can also find queries and possible keyword ideas from Google Search Console or Google Analytics (when linked to your search console).
But remember, these keywords need to be tackled sensibly with a strategic content strategy for them to be of any use:
What Good Automotive Content Needs
The secret to successful content marketing is creating high-quality content with a blend of on-page automotive search engine optimization (SEO).
1. High-Quality Content
High-quality content is informative, fresh, and relevant, keeping your visitors coming back for more.
But that’s not all!
To outrank competitors, you’ll need to create comprehensive content that goes deep into a topic, providing more value to readers than your competitors’ content. Moreover, the information needs to be up-to-date and written for the reader.
You can achieve this through blogs or pages with a unique perspective that customers may find valuable.
Some topics that car owners or potential buyers may want to know more about include:
A. Car Repairs, Care Tips, and Seasonal Maintenance
Repair content is the bread and butter of auto repair companies and dealerships with maintenance services. It’s a good way to demonstrate expertise to customers.
Take, for example, this post by RepairSmith — a mobile mechanic service:
B. Car Buying Guides (Old and New Cars)
Buying guides are great resources for car dealerships that sell vehicles, especially pre-owned ones. It helps a visitor (potential car buyer) make good purchasing decisions and helps build the company’s trustworthiness.
For instance, AutoNation has useful tips for people looking to buy old cars.
C. New Model Launches and Reviews
This is a useful approach for auto dealers to reach interested customers. It helps potential customers understand technical specifications and see how one model compares with another.
Here’s a look at what Auto Trader UK does:
D. Upcoming Discounts on Products and Services
This strategy is great for spare part dealers and repair shops.
For example, Euro Car Parts has blogs detailing which parts suit specific cars, and they also offer discounts on some of the parts.
You should also include useful images or videos and relevant statistics or cost estimates in your content.
Visual content helps build reader engagement, painting a clearer picture of what your content is trying to describe. As for cost estimates, it gives readers an idea of what they can expect to pay for the service, parts, or vehicles they’re looking up.
Both of which are important to help convert readers.
For example, RepairSmith not only adds cost estimates for the parts required for a repair but frequently includes the expected labor charges for the service.
Need help creating engaging SEO content for your auto business?
Get in touch with Scaleup Voyager to leverage the power of high-quality content marketing and SEO services. Our SEO strategy will 10x your website traffic and help you convert more customers!
2. On-Page SEO
Next, you need to optimize this content with on-page SEO tactics like:
A. Keeping URLs Short and Relevant to the Target Keyword
Short URLs are easier to read and more trustworthy. They’re also easier to share on social media (think: character count) and tend to rank higher on search engines since it’s easy to understand their relevance.
Consider this RepairSmith blog. You can tell what it covers with a glance at the URL.
B. Using Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, Headers, and Alt Text
Title tags, meta descriptions, and alt descriptions help search engines make sense of your content. It also helps add structure and context, improving your customers’ user experience.
The image below illustrates how title tags and meta descriptions help search engines format SERP (search engine results page) results.
C. Including Relevant Keywords Throughout the Content
Keywords are the core of search engine optimization and must be well-distributed throughout your content. But most importantly, try to include your primary keywords in your URL and headings, especially the H1 tag. This helps search engines like Google understand if your content matches a user’s search intent.
You can look at the screenshot above to see how RepairSmith includes the keyword “brake imbalance” in their blog post title and the URL.
D. Adding Internal Links to Other Pages on Your Website
Internal links help Google crawl linked pages on your automotive website and lets users discover pages related to their search. It makes it easier for readers to navigate your website and addresses their desire to know more, boosting their user experience.
Check out how the page below adds internal links to other repairs in a section called “Related Repairs.”
E. Using Optimized Images
Image optimization helps search engines understand your images. It includes compressing images to load faster and adding alt text to help search engines understand what they are.
Alt text for images also helps images show up in Google image searches, providing another avenue for you to reach customers.
The alt text “power steering warning symbol” for the image below will help RepairSmith turn up in image searches for the query “power steering warning symbol.”
Plus, optimized images help improve your user experience and SEO performance. It makes it easier for users to go through your content (without getting buried in text). And without a good experience, readers will exit your site and turn to your competitors.
Now, we’ve said that automotive search engine optimization (SEO) is location-focused.
But what does that entail?
Why Automotive SEO and Local SEO Are Inseparable
You want to buy a shiny new sedan and have done a ton of research looking at your options online.
You’ve gone over Toyotas, Chevys, Nissans, Hondas… everything.
And after all that painstaking research, you’ve settled on a car.
What do you do now?
Well, you want to take it for a test drive, right?
And to do that, you Google the auto dealer closest to you.
This is exactly where a strong local SEO game comes in handy.
Without any local SEO, car dealerships won‘t pop up for all these searches and will lose out on all these customers they’re dying to serve!
So how do you level up your local SEO game?
Follow these SEO tips:
A. Adding Your Google Business Profile (Google My Business)
The first step to boosting your local SEO is claiming your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). It’s the easiest way to manage your online presence on Google, making it easier for customers in your area to find and contact you.
Here’s how to do it:
- Visit: https://www.google.com/business/
- Sign in with your business account
- Create your business profile (enter your business name; if it’s already on Google, it may pop up as a suggestion)
- Choose a business category
- Select whether you have a storefront location for customers (enter the location if you do have a storefront address)
- Add the service area and open hours of your business (you can add up to 20 service areas)
- Enter your phone number and automotive website URL
- Verify your listing
Once done, add the same details (NAP — name, address, phone number) to your website (preferably in the footer and on location and contact pages). You should also add a map and photo of your auto dealership or repair service on your website.
Mentioning your business details on other websites helps validate your credibility. They count as citations, and you can get them through listing on Facebook, Yelp, Moz Local, or other online directories.
For example, RepairSmith services multiple cities and has separate listings on directories for each city.
These local SEO steps help customers find you when they use search engines to look for local repair services or auto dealers. They’ll also be able to find your opening hours and other customer reviews.
Here’s why this is super important:
Imagine you’re an online business without a physical storefront.
How would a potential customer know you’re open?
How would they find or contact you?
Creating a business profile and adding your data to directories helps Google know you have a presence in certain areas.
So, when customers search for a service you provide, Google recognizes and recommends you as a relevant business that can help them. Think of it like how Google suggests nearby restaurants to you when you look for a specific cuisine or dish.
But what if your online business has multiple service areas across the country or the world?
B. Crafting Local Pages
Creating local pages for the different areas you service can help you overcome the limit of adding a single business location to your business profile. And through good SEO practices, you can rank high for these pages.
It’s great for companies that haven’t yet built a reputation in specific areas.
Consider this: RepairSmith created multiple pages for the different locations they service.
When someone searches for a mobile mechanic in one of their cities, their location-specific pages turn up as one of the top results:
But wait, this isn’t the end of your local SEO efforts.
Don’t Forget Schema Markups
Schema markups are vital to ranking higher and improving your click-through rate (CTR).
They structure data in a way that’s easier for search engines to read and present rich snippets on search engine results pages (SERPs).
What’s a rich snippet?
Rich snippets are a type of search result with additional information (besides the title and meta description). These listings often include visual or interactive data like steps, links, or ratings.
Now, there are different types of schema markups. You need to choose the most applicable ones for each page, such as:
1. Local Business Schema (or AutomotiveBusiness Schema)
Local business schemas (or AutomotiveBusiness schemas) detail information about your business and services in a knowledge panel. The details covered include the name of the automotive company, the business type, a description of the company, its founders, etc.
2. Product Schema
This one allows you to add specific attributes to your product listings, including price, reviews, ratings, and more. These details appear as rich results on a search engine results page.
3. FAQ Schema
This markup tells Google the content is in a Q&A format. It then lists those questions and answers directly under the search engine results page listing.
But remember to use the FAQ schema only for pages without options for users to submit answers (think: forums). For such pages, you need a QA Page schema.
Here’s what an FAQ schema looks like:
4. ItemList Schema
ItemList schemas mark a list of items (products on a subcategory page) to provide additional context, like the top sellers or top stories, etc.
5. Vehicle Listing Structured Data
Google has added a new markup and structure data support for vehicle listings (as of October 2023), helping dealers create rich snippets for the cars they have available for sale.
Here’s a glimpse of it:
However, you must meet certain eligibility requirements to generate vehicle listing rich snippets, including:
- You must own a claimed and verified dealership Google Business Profile in the US or US territories.
- The Business Profile should contain the Place type “vehicle_dealer”.
- You can only include car inventory for sale directly from the dealership and in the US or US territories. (Cars from private sellers and auto brokers can’t use this feature.)
But, how do you add these markups?
Usually, these markups are created by adding code to your website’s backend. But you can also use tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to create the code.
Alternatively, some content management systems, like WordPress, have SEO plugins (like Yoast) that help you create the markup while uploading the page.
Here’s a look at what Yoast SEO’s schema feature looks like:
So far, we’ve talked a lot about creating content.
But there’s one form of content that’s super useful and already ready to go!
We’re talking about reviews:
Customer Reviews: An Automotive SEO Must-Have
Positive customer reviews are essentially recommendations. The more you have, the better!
They serve as social proof, driving conversions by showing a potential customer that others experienced good, reliable service with you. Plus, businesses with many reviews are more likely to be recommended on Google Maps or other GPS apps.
Check out the reviews on Hackney Service Centre Ltd’s Google Business Profile.
Moreover a ReviewTrackers survey shows 67.1% of consumers determine whether they’ll use a new auto repair service based on reviews.
However, only 40% of consumers consider giving a review, so it’s important to ask!
You need to encourage customers to leave reviews, specifically positive reviews. And the best way to do that is by providing good customer experiences or incentives for leaving reviews via discount coupons or a referral program.
And remember, customer reviews work well when placed on your website too.
But where should you place them?
Business reviews encourage visitors to take the next steps to become customers. That’s why you need to include them extensively on conversion-centric pages, like landing, product, and pricing pages.
They help decrease the friction that prevents visitors from converting into customers by emphasizing the great service previous customers received.
Take a look at how Service My Car in the UK adds reviews at the bottom of their oil change page.
Now that you’ve explored how to attract visitors to your website, let’s see what you can do to make it simpler to use.
Design Your Website Well
Once visitors land on your website, your next step is guiding them along a journey that converts them into customers. 💰
That’s why you need to design and structure your website to facilitate easier navigation and conversions.
After all, what’s the use of all that exceptional content if it’s inaccessible?
Plus, the better your site is structured, the easier it’s for search engines to crawl it — facilitating higher page rankings.
So, how do you structure your website well?
Well, there’s a LOT that goes into it.
For one, you can use a pyramid silo site structure — where the main page is at the topmost level. It’s followed by pages that explore more specific topics (think long tail keywords) the lower you go in the pyramid.
For example, imagine an auto dealer website:
|New Cars||Old Cars|
As you go further down the pyramid, you’d find more specific pages for vehicles. The bottommost level would have pages about specific car makes and models.
By following this pyramid structure, you can ensure that all of your pages are connected. And most importantly, there are no orphan pages (pages that aren’t linked to any other page or section).
On top of that, you should:
1. Add a Navigation Bar
A navigation bar on the top of the page should display the most important pages for your customers.
This can include links to pages like:
- Services/ Book a Service
- Car Models (for sale or reviews)
- Cost Estimates
- About Us
- Contact/ Find a Store
Take a look at what AutoNation includes in its navigation bar. It includes everything a car buyer would need to know.
2. Include Call-to-Actions (CTAs)
Call-to-actions help guide visitors to the next step they can take in their customer journey. They remove any friction in taking leads down the sales funnel.
Check out how RepairSmith takes visitors closer to hiring a mechanic:
3. Use Category Pages
Category pages serve as a hub for connecting related pages, making it easier for visitors to navigate across topics that may be of interest.
For example, car repairs can be categorized into clusters based on different parts. A brake category page could contain different brake repair pages.
You could also include a troubleshooting page to help visitors determine what repairs they need based on symptoms their car shows. For dealerships, you could create a page to determine how much a used car is worth or how to pick a new car.
4. Add a Search Bar
Search bars help visitors find what they want faster, which also means they stay on your site for longer.
And if you can look into what visitors search for, you can discover opportunities for new content or products.
5. Optimize for Mobile
Per Statista, there were over 5 billion unique mobile internet users in 2022 — that’s more than half the world population. Plus, mobile internet users comprise over 58% of global online traffic!
But why look elsewhere when you can check your own data?
Check your Tech Overview report in the User section of Google Analytics (GA4). You’ll see the distribution of users across different devices. And more often than not, you’ll find that most visitors come from mobile devices.
That’s why it’s crucial to optimize your website for mobile users.
This can include using custom CSS to make your website responsive, boosting core web vitals, improving load speed, etc.
You can even use a page speed analyzer to determine what you need to improve for optimal mobile browsing.
Here you can see that Big Motoring World’s mobile speed index is alright but could use a bit of improvement:
You can also check the mobile-friendliness of every new page you publish using Google Search Console using the URL inspection feature. It’ll tell you if your page is usable on mobile devices.
6. Place Social Plugins
Social plugins are an easy way to boost engagement on your website and increase your social media followers.
It also makes it easier for potential customers to find out more about you and your online presence.
The best place to keep these plugins is at the top of your website or at least above the top fold so that readers can easily access them.
7. Add Your Business Address and Contact Information
Customers need to know how to contact you or reach your business.
That’s why you need to add your address, contact, and even location on your web pages. The best place to keep this information available for online visitors is in the footer of each page since it’s typically used for navigational and informational purposes.
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all of this, don’t worry.
We’re almost done!
The only thing that’s left to take care of is technical SEO:
Implement Technical SEO Best Practices
Technical SEO is the behind-the-scenes action that helps improve your search engine ranking.
Some technical SEO tips and best practices include:
- Using the Right CMS: A good content management system (CMS) is highly beneficial for managing technical SEO requirements. WordPress is one the best and is practically built for SEO. Plus, it’s easily customizable and has various plugins to manage SEO objectives.
- Setting Up Your SSL Certificate Correctly: Once you obtain an SSL certificate from a provider, you need to set it up and verify it. You can even use a checker like sslchecker.com, certlogik.com, or SSL Labs, to ensure it’s installed correctly.
- Implementing Secure HTTPS Protocol: Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a ranking factor, making it necessary if you want to rank high on search engines.
It enhances your site’s security and credibility since it protects sensitive information by encrypting the transfer of data between a website and a user’s device. Moreover, it also helps improve your site’s load speed.
- Setting Up a CDN (Content Delivery Network): A CDN can be really beneficial for sites that have a lot of traffic or which use a lot of bandwidth.
CDNs help decrease web traffic to the web server, reduce bandwidth consumption, and improve the user experience. This, in turn, helps improve the speed and efficiency of your website.
- Utilize a Robots.txt File to Control Search Engine Crawling: Your robots.txt file tells search engines which URLs they should crawl. This helps prevent overloading your site with crawl requests.
Following these best practices help improve your website’s technical health, increasing the likelihood that search engines will rank it higher.
But remember, technical SEO is mainly there for good housekeeping — it won’t move the needle by a lot. You should keep your focus on creating great, user-friendly content to truly rank higher on search engines.
Stay Ahead of the Competition with Automotive SEO
Automotive SEO offers a way for businesses to ensure customers can find them easily on search engines. And the right tactics can boost traffic and improve your customer experience.
But remember, SEO requires consistent effort, which can take time to create results.
How do you ensure you’re taking the right steps?
Get in touch with an SEO expert at Startup Voyager!
We have extensive experience working with auto companies like RepairSmith and skyrocketing their traffic without relying on backlinks!🧾