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How Local SEO Helps You Outsmart the Competition

How Local SEO Helps You Outsmart the Competition

SEO really does matter for auto dealers because today’s buyers think with Google

How can you help your dealership’s website appear at the top of search engine results? Can you change its site listing in Google? Are links back to your site important?

Also, why should your website traffic be encrypted? How do you create SEO-boosting content for your dealership, and how do you track all this? Does local SEO really matter for auto dealers?

The answers to these questions can throw any dealer for a loop, particularly with the vast range of content and advice available to help business owners decipher the secret code that is SEO.

Buyers think with Google

Google is a critical part of the decision-making process for many auto buyers. Though these buyers will all arrive at your dealership with different intent, if their search turns up no information or incorrect information, their intent to purchase becomes null.

According to Google/Oxera, twice as many consumers believe a business is reputable when the business has verified its Google My Business listing versus businesses that do not. Fortunately, you have the power to edit your business listing in Google.

The first step is claiming your business listing on Google My Business. From there, it’s simple to edit, add photos, choose your categories, and even post rebates and sales your dealership offers.

Link building

Concerned about your dealership website’s organic search engine rankings? Your research will quickly lead you to the word backlinks. Backlinks are simply links back to your dealership’s website.

There is nothing simple about backlinking, however. Search engine optimization (SEO) experts have long offered backlinking as a foundational technique. Unfortunately, effective backlinking is complex to orchestrate.

Tips for backlinking:

  • Avoid getting backlinks from questionable web sites.

  • Gauge the relevancy of a website by comparing its content to your offerings.

  • Choose websites that have high authority.

  • Write blog posts that get published on other relevant websites.

  • Get your dealership’s website listed in relevant directories, with a backlink.

  • Widely circulate links to your dealership’s blog posts on social media.

Backlink-checking tools are available on,, and Run a tool frequently to check your progress.


You have known for years to look for a little lock symbol at the top of the browser during checkout when shopping online to ensure security.

But Google now gives higher organic search engine rankings to websites that have a sitewide Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). More and more websites are now using SSL throughout their entire site, not just when collecting personal and financial information from customers.

How does SSL work, and should your dealership’s site have it? SSL is a standard security protocol. The data is encrypted using a public key and a private key.

If you haven’t already, talk to your webmaster about getting SSL on your dealership’s website.

Organic search strategies

One of the main goals in organic search is to rank highly for certain keywords. Developing a keyword strategy for your dealership is not simple, but it’s critical for organic search. Keywords are also important for backlinks and paid search advertising like Google AdWords.

Start by writing down your keywords and keyword strategy. Check,, or to see which keywords you are ranking on now.

Check out your local competitors and their keywords. Perform a keyword analysis. Choosing the keywords is fairly involved, so you may need to hire a consultant.

Next, add the keywords to your website naturally. Naturally means that the wording makes sense to readers.

The keywords also need to appear in invisible places: the meta title, the meta description, and the alt image text. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask your webmaster to handle it.

“Well, that’s easy,” you might think, after typing one of your keywords or phrases into Google, then seeing your site pop up first. False. The search engines already know you and your location.

When you are logged into Google, the tool remembers search terms you have entered, websites you have visited, and more. Even if you’re logged out, Google places an anonymous cookie called Google Personalized Search on your computer that tracks 180 days of history. The idea is benign: to provide personalized and relevant results.

Though the feature is wonderful for the user, it’s problematic for the website owner. You will need to pay an SEO consultant, or subscribe to,, or to find out objectively where your website ranks on keywords.

Blogging is also crucial to most organic search strategies, so your dealership should consider adding a blog to its website if you aren’t already utilizing one. Google rewards blogs with posts that are original, relevant, and regular.

Use your identified keywords in the blog post title, first paragraph, and throughout the text. An SEO tool such as Yoast SEO ensures you use the keyword the right number of times.

Best strategies for tracking organic search rankings

So, you have chosen your keywords, written a keyword strategy plan, and implemented it. Now you need to track your organic search rankings and review them monthly to create a feedback loop. Is your strategy working? How can you tweak it?

Careful analysis of your SEO report will reveal domain authority, search visibility, organic traffic, and more. This information will shape and improve your dealership website’s SEO over time.

SEO for auto dealers is a deep ocean. Having dipped your toe in the water, do you feel ready to dive in?

Go ahead, but if you need more help, consult an ethical SEO specialist with experience getting auto dealers local SEO results.

Dustin Pearce is an account manager at Makeshark. At Makeshark, we build stunning SEO-optimized custom websites and user-friendly e-commerce stores. Contact us at for a free consultation.

Article also posted on Dealer Marketing Magazine.


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