Car Dealers need to better understand search engine optimization, expert says

Canadian auto dealers need to better understand search engine optimization to more effectively reach their customers — and should consider hiring an expert to help them — an industry expert says.

Mindy Weinstein, founder and CEO of Market MindShift, a digital marketing boutique in Scottsdale, Ariz., said dealers are likely making some fundamental errors in how they use SEO, and not just because they are failing to use specific words or phrases.

Weinstein, who spoke recently at the Kijiji Autos DealersTalk event in Toronto, said businesses in general are so fixated on the way their websites look, they are missing out on what search engines are actually identifying.

“It’s critical,” she said. “If you don’t have that foundation in place, it doesn’t matter how great your website is because people aren’t going to get there.”

She said dealers have to “tune up” their websites to ensure search engines find it. She added that search engines are equipped with software to get to the site and then index the pages. She said page speed is paramount because the longer it takes for the pages to load, the more it’s going to result in lost customers. She said there are software tools that can be used such as GT Metrix and Google Page Speed Insights to bring a website up to optimal speed.

“You want make sure all of your pages are loading quickly, especially your front page and top pages you spent so long setting up so that they convert people and will drive traffic to your store” she said.

She added dealers need to input more than just the basic information of a vehicle, which can be done with added information and specific search tools. And she said webpages must be set up to accommodate the expanded use of voice search and mobile devices, which are becoming more prevalent than desktop computers.

“It doesn’t matter what a beautiful car or a beautiful website you have because search engines aren’t going to be able to understand it and they are not going to send people your way,” she said.

“What [dealers] don’t understand is that just having a page with that car listed and those specs only [aren’t enough]. You have to have extra content. It could mean just a few extra sentences about the benefits of that kind of car.”

She said visuals need to be supplemented with specific words.

“Even though it’s only images, it’s the way you name your files,” she said. “The descriptions should be optimized so they are relevant to what the image is. You don’t just put up a video and not pay attention to what you are saying. Everything you do should be strategic.”

She recommended hiring an SEO expert.

“The thing with SEO is that it changes all the time,” she said. “It’s a moving target. Google, for example, changes their algorithms hundreds of times every single year. You want somebody who has a finger on the pulse of it and they are up to date on it and understand all aspects of it.

“The answer to everything isn’t just you need more content or more links. You need someone who understands the whole picture.

“From my experience it’s hard to be a jack of all trades when it comes to digital. You want someone that gets SEO.”