Long gone are the days where consumers pass through the doors of multiple dealerships to find their dream car.

It is unsurprising that consumer shopping habits have evolved across many industries, including automotive, with a greater emphasis on the digital landscape to research, experience and in some cases even purchase a new vehicle.

In fact, for a majority of consumers, Google is where the consumer journey commences, with studies suggesting that consumers who are considering a car purchase spend roughly 12 hours scrolling through the search engine and visit 10 different dealership websites to begin their initial research. Furthermore, additional research shows that worldwide, automotive dealerships and brands attract over 60 million monthly online searches, with approximately 90% of consumers only clicking the links that appear on the first page of results.

Evidently, the abundance of information online has created a competitive atmosphere for automotive brands. There is an increased importance for automotive brands to ensure optimum rankings on search engines to remain front of mind for consumers at the key consideration phase of the consumer journey.

Therefore, search engine optimisation (SEO) has become a crucial digital marketing and advertising service for car dealers to significantly increase the chance that they’re dealership website is found by potential customers. More importantly, an SEO strategy should be locally optimised to ensure high-quality traffic and drive more customers to your location.

Before you can implement a successful SEO strategy, it helps to have an understanding of what search engine optimisation is and how search engines like Google work, in order to inform any SEO services that you wish to apply. In simple terms, search engines work by gathering a relevant list of responses to a users search term or question. In order to show this list, search engines use automated robots to decipher the context of a website, which is known as crawling. This lengthy and frequent process is also followed by advanced algorithms which consider numerous factors to determine relevancy and importance in relation to the consumer’s request.

One factor that helps determine relevancy to is a consumer is location. If you think about it, consumers are unlikely to travel lengthy distances to dealerships when there is one in their local area offering the same products and services. Furthermore, if there are 100 car dealers in your area or surrounds, only 10 of these will show up on the first page of Google. By crawling and applying the advanced mathematical algorithms, Google determines the 10 car dealers to rank first, which will receive a majority of the consumer traffic. To help Google favour your brand amongst competitors, the process of search engine optimisation is applied. Here are a few local SEO tips to help boost your automotive website to a prime position in Google’s search engine.

Keyword Research

First and foremost, many SEO strategies begin with keyword research which is the process of determining the phrases you wish to rank for. Many brands use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner which provides information on estimated search volume for particular keywords to help inform whether it is a viable target. It is also essential to analyse competitor’s keywords which can be tracked through SEO software such as SEMrush. Some of your keywords should also be location specific to enhance the likelihood of higher rankings. For example, if your dealership sells used cars, the keyword “used cars” is quite broad and highly competitive. Rather targeting the keyword “used cars” with your suburb, narrows down the potential results and increases the relevancy for local consumers.

Some brands are also beginning to optimise their website for long tail keyword phrases. This is due to Google’s recent algorithm update, which allows their robots to be able to contextualise voice search queries, which have been increasing as a result of voice command applications and personal assistants. As a result, search queries are becoming more conversational and phrase heavy in comparison to keywords. Thus, having a mix of keywords and long tail phrases could yield better organic traffic and higher search rankings. 


The dealer website also plays a significant role in SEO. After all, the process of search engine optimisation is aiming to drive traffic to the site, in hopes the consumer will find what they’re after and head in store later in their consumer journey. Website design and speed, along with back-end features such as meta titles, descriptions and alt tags are all factors in Google’s ranking algorithm and can, therefore, have an impact on where your automotive dealer page appears to consumers.

In fact, site speed can have a negative impact on SEO, as it limits the ability for consumers to quickly find what they are looking for. The design of a website can also have an impact on search engine rankings, as Google favours sites that are user-friendly and purposefully designed with the consumer in mind. In addition, ensuring the keywords you wish to rank for are dispersed throughout the content on the website, including in the meta title and meta descriptions are also advised. While meta descriptions don’t directly impact rankings, it helps advise consumers on the context of the site or web page they’re about to visit, which helps determines relevancy. Alt tags also need to be optimised as search engines are unable to determine the context of images on your site.

In relation to having a user-friendly website, it is also imperative to ensure that your dealership website is mobile optimised. Yearly, consumers make 30 billion searches via their mobile and smartphone devices. Furthermore, 12 billion of these searches have a local intent. More specific to the automotive industry, 7/10 smartphone users search for new vehicles via their mobile device. An unresponsive website can negatively impact SEO rankings due to potentially duplicate content and awkward user experience.

Content Marketing

Dealer websites need to have a wealth of information that facilitates what the consumer may be searching for. In fact, some studies have determined that there is a lack of content on automotive web pages that will facilitate the consideration phase in the buyer’s journey. As aforementioned, many consumers begin their car purchasing journey online, and a lack of content that will help them progress through the various phases results in a lost opportunity for business. Rich and relevant content that pertains to the consumer’s intent needs to be produced. For example, content that discusses pricing, fuel efficiency, models, comparisons and more will help facilitate consumers research and consideration, thus being relevant.

Content should also be optimised to help rank for particular keywords or promote local business. Although, it should be made aware that stuffing content with repetitive keywords and phrases will actually be penalised by Google. Therefore, aim to create high-quality content t
hat actually benefits site visitors. For example, if your business is aiming to rank for “used cars” in your local area, content surrounding upcoming deals in relation to these vehicles may be beneficial, as again it provides the consumers near your dealership who may be looking to purchase a used car with the utmost relevance.

Google My Business

According to Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey for 2017, the ‘Google My Business (GMB) feature remains to be a heavily important factor for local SEO success. It is a search engine feature that lists your business and important information about it within the Google search results page. It also works on three of Google’s ranking factors, relevance, distance and prominence. For example, if a consumer searches for “car dealerships near me”, your dealership may appear along with your location, phone number, knowledge graph, reviews, opening times, photos and more. In fact, Google’s own research suggests that local businesses that provide detailed and complete online business listings are twice more likely to be perceived as a reputable organisation by consumers. A Google My Business listing is easy to set up and can assist in driving traffic to your dealership website, assist in promoting phone calls and potentially result in physical store visits.

For consumers, the internet remains to be the preferred method to research a potential new car purchase. However, as a highly competitive industry, automotive brands need to implement search engine optimisation strategies to better their chances for search engine visibility and drive traffic to their site at key phases of the consumer journey. By implementing various on page, off page and local SEO services, automotive brands can increase their relevancy toward the consumer and be favoured in search engine results pages.

RGC is an award winning digital marketing agency based in Sydney and SEO Agency in Sydney, with experience in a variety of digital marketing and advertising services including search engine optimisation, web design and content marketing. To learn more about how SEO can benefit your automotive brand, please contact Richard on (02) 8883 2988 or email richard@rgcadvertising.com.au