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BEST SEO for Car Dealerships Having 99 Problems but Auto Dealer SEO Ain’t One

Small 99 Problems Local SEO for Auto Dealers Ain’t One

This is the third episode of our “99 Problems” series where each episode will explore local SEO strategies and tactics for a specific industry.

SEO for auto dealers is the process of optimizing a car dealership’s website and online presence to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. This can include your GBP listings (including your services in the GBP), and onsite optimizations. In this episode, we’ll dive into local SEO for auto dealers. Ready to sell more cars? Let’s do this!

How many Google Business Profiles listings can a car dealer have?

Auto dealers are unique in the sense that they can have multiple Google Business Profiles (GBP) listings to cover the different aspects of their business.

Car dealers can have GBP listings for their sales and parts departments

These listings are allowed if they qualify under the rules for departments.  To qualify, they would generally need a separate entrance, different categories, and sometimes different hours.  So using this example, this dealer could have a listing for their parts department as they already have here. Sometimes Google automatically creates listings for parts & services departments and in my experience, GBP support will not remove these unless you can prove they don’t exist. To learn more about having multiple listings click here.

Car dealers are allowed a Google Business Profile listing for each brand they are authorized to sell for

In 2020, this tweet got a lot of attention from the Local SEO community because it implied that car dealerships were allowed listings for each brand.

As of today, the help center doc has been updated to include:

“New car dealerships are eligible for multiple listings. You can have one listing for your dealership and one listing for each brand you sell of new cars.”

I wanted to get clarification on what exactly this means so I spoke to Google about it and will highlight some specifics below.

I’m going to use an example to help illustrate this.  This dealer sells for Ford, Lincoln, and Toyota.  They would be allowed to have 3 listings for this – one per brand.  It does not matter if they have separate entrances or staff. The main goal here is likely to have the brands have more control over their listings at a corporate level.  If Ford wanted to keep track and organize the listings for all their dealers, they can do so. An example of one of these listings is here.

This rule currently only applies to new car dealers.  Used-car dealerships can’t have profiles per brand of cars sold because their brands can change frequently.

Onsite Optimization Tips on Local SEO for Car Dealerships

Have you ever wondered if adding photos to the auto dealer’s website can have any value on SEO for car dealers or influence ranking? Well, it can. And in a pretty neat way. We recently published an article titled Does Adding Photos in Google My Business Increase Ranking? In this case study, we added photos of the various tire brands that the auto dealer sold to the website and tracked ranking for tire-related keywords for a month.

We thought the auto dealer was a great test subject for this because they literally had no mention of “tires” anywhere on their site. We added several photos of tires to the page on the website that their GBP listing was linking to.

A few days later, we saw that they actually did start ranking for 3 of the different tire keywords that we were tracking. It wasn’t a massive improvement, but this grid from Places Scout showing their ranking for one of the “tires” keywords used to be all red (no ranking):

places scout ranking report

Here’s where it gets really interesting…

We also noticed that the search results now showed a website justification that mentioned “tires”:

GBP justification

The only place that these words were mentioned on the website was in the alt text of the photos we added.  We repeated this test on another site and observed the same thing. We concluded that, based on this observation, alt text has a minor impact on ranking in the local results.

Other ways to succeed with SEO for auto dealers

For the same dealer mentioned above, we did some work on their Nissan recall check tool. Here are some of the things that we did:

  1. Wrote an extensive FAQ section and included FAQPage schema markup
  2. Optimized the title tag:
    1. Old: Check Vehicle for Recalls
    2. New: Nissan Recall Check by VIN (Check Nissan for Recalls) Nissan Recall Lookup by VIN in USA (Northern Virginia & Washington DC)
  3. Optimized meta description:
    1. Old: Check Vehicle for Recalls
    2. New: Check your Nissan vehicle for open recalls using your VIN. ✓ FREE Nissan USA recall check tool. ✓ Find out if your Nissan has a recall.
  4. Minor changes:
    1. Added alt tag to banner image and another image on the page.
    2. Added checkmarks to the list under “Why Remedy Your Recall with Us?”
    3. Added click-to-call link to the phone number

All of this led to some pretty decent performance increases for that page.

onsite optimization results

That wraps up part three of the 99 Problems series. Stay tuned for the next episode.

Contact Sterling Sky Inc.

If you’re a local business that needs help with your Google My Business listing, review strategy, or online presence on Google and other search engines, at Sterling Sky we can help. We offer SEO auditsconsulting, or monthly local SEO services. Contact our office today for more information.

Check Out What Others Are Saying About Our Local SEO Services for Auto Dealers Near You

I’ve been in and around marketing my entire business career. I value great marketers. Joy and her team at Sterling Sky are AMAZING at their job. I think what I love most about them is they’re genuine honest approach on marketing. So many marketing companies are great at the sales process but once they get you, the results aren’t nearly the level the expectations were set. I value Sterling Sky because they are honest, hard working, and they actually care. The passion they have for marketing is one I share with them and these are the type of people you want to help your business grow. Thank you Joy for your time and energy helping me and so many others!

Ryan Lucia on Google


Check out our other amazing reviews on Google! We have 4.9 rating across over 60 reviews!

Want more local SEO tips?
Check out our LocalU Event in NYC in September!.

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Colan Nielsen

Colan started in the local SEO world back in 2010 and is also deemed a product expert by Google as a Top Contributor on the Google My Business Forum. He is a contributor to Moz’s famous Local Search Ranking Factors survey and is a former Google MapMaker Regional Lead. Read Colan's full bio here.

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