SEO is one of the most powerful sales tools in automotive SEO when used correctly. While brick-and-mortar dealerships, OEMs and retailers are all active more than ever before in the online world, SEO is often the pivotal link between online and offline car sales that can really transform the efficiency of a marketing strategy.
Largely, the importance of SEO for offline car sales is in the fact that it helps sellers to stay in the mind of the buyer at all times. From researching products and brands to looking for their nearest showrooms, SEO means you can be there from start to finish.
For dealerships in particular, local SEO is often at the heart of online marketing. By optimising things like Google Business profiles and websites or branches within a larger website (even on an OEM level), local search becomes one of the most powerful tools a car seller can use.
By optimising in this way, sellers can quickly become a local port of call for people who are just starting or even just ending their car buying journey and are looking to take things into a more physical route, likely where they will convert into a sale.
An example of this in practice would be someone looking for a Ford dealership in Manchester. Maybe Ford has a list of retailers and their locations on their site, and they appear for this search. This then allows Ford to send customers to their local dealerships, or to even convert the customer online by placing a deposit, booking a test drive, or even completing the purchase online if they have the ability on their site. They’ll share part of their journey online and part of it online, ultimately making the journey much more likely and much harder for a competitor to interfere with.
General SEO connects offline and online car sales in more ways than people may well think. Instead of looking for a specific car dealer in a specific place that they then want to visit, likely as a list of others, generic SEO can actually mean better rankings even on a national level, which may well attract visitors from around the rest of the country.
Again, of course, there’s also the possibility for dealerships and OEMs to counteract this with Local SEO, but generic SEO especially for larger networks can still have a massive impact and even give rankings and traffic due to the vehicles stocked and not just the brand stocking it.
An example of this one in a real-world setting could be an OEM deciding to create a series of optimised landing pages with specific products using specific variations, such as a black BMW 320d. If BMW were to create a landing page dedicated to black BMW 320d vehicles, they would likely rank for this because of their clear authority and relevance. They could then show the locations of retailers or showrooms that have this car available, and send the person there instead of a competitor like Motors.co.uk ranking and taking the search to their network of dealers.
Brand SEO is yet another way in which SEO connects online and offline sales in more ways than people realise. The initial reaction to brand SEO in the automotive industry is to question why it really matters. If someone is searching for a particular brand in a particular location, then they’re already looking to get there, right?
The thing is, with online customer journeys and the way that the search results impact users in this day and age, that’s not always enough. For example, the impression that you make online when someone is looking for you in itself can be just as good as it is bad. If you have a dealership or even a branch that has no local presence, terrible reviews and a bad photograph on s Google Business Page, you’re very likely to deter a customer from turning up.
In addition to brand SEO done well helping to attract customers and trust in your brand or reputation, you also have to consider that other sellers may also be using Google Ads to target your audience too, on top of which, there are other brands like Autotrader that may be ranking for your brand name too, either with their own landing page if not a dealership page for your precise location, both of which give ample opportunity for users to search elsewhere just as easily as it would have been searching more generic terms.
Content is an aspect of SEO that many sellers trying to sell offline can miss completely, but in reality, it can actually be a huge tool to get customers through the door. Website content is usually the start of that and the easiest route to go down, like writing about products and dealers if acting as an OEM, but there are other routes, too.
One huge benefit that offline car sellers can use in the online world is the access to vehicles in their possession. Making videos and reviews as a prime example of content SEO can bring in numbers of people again from across the whole country all with a premade idea of the retailer they’re looking to work with.
Whether it’s a blog comparing popular products, reviewing the latest news about a brand or model range, or even simply a video detailing the latest stock available that someone might like to use to save them a trip across the country in case the car they want is gone, it can all go a long way toward helping get customers actually into your premises and buying with you.
All in all, SEO is not something to be scared of in automotive retail. In fact, whether you’re an independent seller or an OEM looking to increase your revenue, SEO can help it be done at scales never before imaginable.
It is SEO that allows products and brands to rank, helps your audience to find you when they are looking for you (and even when they aren’t), and above all else, makes them happy to decide that they’ll spend their time to visit you in person and give you the opportunity your dealership needs to seal the deal, and with over 60% of all online experiences starting in a search engine, that is more important than ever before.