SEO for Car Dealers: A 12-Step Guide for Automotive Dealers

by Outranking
Updated On: August 17, 2023
SEO for Car Dealers: A 12-Step Guide for Automotive Dealers

95% of vehicle buyers use the internet to research vehicles before they make a purchase. So you should seriously consider giving yourself an automotive dealers’ website. But how can you ensure vehicle buyers can find out about your website and services?  You should consider implementing SEO best practices. Car dealers can improve their SEO game by devising an impeccable SEO content strategy.

But apart from content strategy, what other SEO aspects should you implement? For car and other automotive dealers, we’ve compiled a list of SEO tips that can help you reach the top positions in SERPs.

Why Is SEO Important for Car Dealers?

Car dealers don’t have an easy time attracting and retaining customers. After all, consumers can have a hard time identifying what distinguishes your dealership from others. 

That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play! In this digital marketing age, SEO is key for you to improve your dealership’s online visibility and increase traffic to your website. 

When you optimize your website and content with SEO best practices, you can rank higher on SERPs, and this can be good news for your car dealership for the following reasons: 

1. Improved Online Visibility

With the majority of car buyers starting their search online, having a strong online presence is critical for car dealers. SEO helps car dealers to improve their online visibility by ranking higher in SERPs when potential customers search for relevant keywords. By appearing at the top of search results, car dealers can increase their chances of being seen by potential customers, which can lead to more conversion rates and an improved bottom line. 

2. Increased Organic Traffic

SEO can help car dealers to increase their organic traffic. Organic traffic refers to the traffic that comes to your website from search engines, without paid advertising. By optimizing your website and online content for relevant keywords, you can attract more organic traffic to your website. This can lead to increased brand awareness, more leads, and ultimately more sales.

3. Cost-Effective Strategy

SEO is a cost-effective strategy for car dealers. Unlike paid advertising, which can be expensive, SEO is a long-term strategy that can provide sustainable results. By investing in SEO, car dealers can improve their sales revenue without spending a tonne of money on ads. 

4. Better User Experience

SEO isn’t just about optimizing your website for search engines. It’s also about improving the user experience. By optimizing your website for speed, mobile-friendliness, and usability, you can provide a better user experience for your website visitors. This can lead to increased engagement, more time spent on your website, and ultimately more conversions.

5. Competitive Advantage

In a highly competitive industry like the automotive industry, having a strong online presence can give car dealers a competitive advantage. By investing in SEO, car dealers can improve their online visibility and attract more potential customers. This can help them to stand out from their competitors and ultimately increase their market share.

How to Implement SEO for Automotive Dealership Websites

Step 1: Define Your Core Service Areas To Create Website Architecture

The first step to implementing better SEO for your car dealership is to understand your business’s core areas. When you do that, you can target the right keywords and topics most relevant to your business.

First, you’ll have to identify the main services you provide. Those will be the core offerings on your website architecture. This will also help search engine crawlers and bots to index your website effectively. 

Next, you’ll have to identify the sub-areas or sub-services, you provide with each main service. Note that not all car dealerships will have those same sub-areas. So you should do thorough research to understand what works best with your location, clientele, etc. This will be your starting point for creating a content plan that aligns with your goals and objectives.

Here’s an example table that lists the core service areas and an extended list of sub-areas for a car dealership:

Core Service AreasExtended List of Sub-Areas
New Car SalesSedans, SUVs, Trucks, Luxury Cars, Hybrid and Electric Cars
Used Car SalesCertified Pre-Owned Cars, Budget Cars, High-End Used Cars, Trade-Ins
Car FinancingAuto Loans, Lease Options, Credit Applications, Payment Calculators
Car Maintenance and RepairOil Changes, Brake Services, Engine Repairs, Transmission Repairs, Tire Services
Car RentalsDaily Rentals, Weekly Rentals, Monthly Rentals, Luxury Car Rentals
Infographic of the website architecture for a automotive dealership website.
Break your business down into chunks, so you can have a better idea of which content to create.

Step 2: Perform Keyword Research

Before you create any content for your core areas and their sub-areas, you should perform keyword research for each of these categories to see what you should target. Here are three key things to keep in mind for this step:

  1. Gather the list of keywords for each core area of your website
  2. Exclude outdated or irrelevant keywords to avoid spending time and money on unrelated things
  3. Use a keyword research tool that you’re comfortable with and that gives you the data you need

For your car dealership website, you can use Semrush or Outranking for the market keyword research. Here’s how: 

Method 1: Use Semrush

  1. Identify the core areas of your car dealership website, such as new cars, used cars, financing, and service.
  2. Plug in a keyword related to each core area into Semrush’s keyword research tool, such as “new cars for sale” or “car financing options”
Screenshot of Semrush's Keyword Research Tool for the keyword "car financing options".
You can see all the keywords in this black box.

3. Exclude outdated and irrelevant keywords using Semrush’s filters

Screenshot of the Semrush Keyword Research Tool with three keywords highlighted in a black box: Can, Dental, and Explained.
Can someone explain what dental has to do with car dealerships?

4. Download the CSV file with the list of keywords for each core area

5. Combine all CSV files into one for easier management

Image of a table with different keywords for sub-areas like Car Financing options, auto loans, and payment calculators.
Get everything into a single view so you know what to do with it!

6. Repeat steps 2-5 for each sub-group within each core service area, such as “sedans” or “SUVs

Method 2: Use Outranking

  1. Identify the core areas of your car dealership website, such as new cars, used cars, financing, and service
  2. Use Outranking’s available keyword generator to gather keywords related to each core area
  3. Use Outranking’s cluster analysis to refine and group the keywords
  4. Download the list of refined keywords for each core area
  5. Combine all keyword lists into one for easier management
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for each sub-group within each core service area, such as “oil changes” or “tire services”

Once you collect all keywords for each sub-group in your core service areas, you should analyze them to build an SEO content strategy.

Step 3: Perform Keyword Clustering Process

Keyword clustering is key for your car dealership website’s SEO strategy. Keyword clustering is the process of grouping similar keywords together based on their semantic terms and intent groups. 

By clustering keywords, you can create a more refined and targeted keyword list, which can help you rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

For example, if you have a list of automotive dealer keywords, you can cluster them into groups such as “new car sales,” “used car sales,” “car financing,” “car maintenance,” and so on. This will help you create a more targeted content strategy and improve your chances of ranking higher for specific search queries.

Image of keywords clustered into 3 groups.
New car keywords go together and used cars go together.

To pick the primary keyword for each group of clusters, you need to consider several factors such as:

  • The difficulty of ranking for a particular keyword
  • The number of backlinks your competitors have
  • Your topical authority

Note that it’s a good idea to get an in-house SEO/marketing team for your car dealership. But Outranking can also help you with keyword clustering because it analyzes your keyword list and groups them into semantic terms and intent groups. This way, your content can be more targeted, so you’ll improve your chance of ranking higher in SERPs.

Step 4: Create a Content Calendar

To prioritize keywords for creating and optimizing content for a car dealership website, first, create a list of primary keywords and groups related to the dealership. Once you have your list, use Outranking’s keyword “strategy topics and planner” page to map out a plan and schedule for your content.

Outranking also allows you to set priorities for your keywords from high to low. Prioritizing your keywords can set your content on the right path and ensure that you are targeting the most important and relevant keywords for your dealership.

To prioritize keywords for your car dealership website, use the following table:

PriorityKeywords ContainingWhy
HighNew cars, car models, car features, car financingThese keywords can define your dealership as a thought leader and support important pages for the flow of information
MediumUsed cars, car dealerships near me, car reviewsThese keywords can place your dealership among many competitors and attract potential customers searching for specific car models or reviews
LowCar maintenance, car care tips, car insuranceThese keywords can define your dealership as a thought leader and support important pages for the flow of information, but they may not be as high of a priority as the other keywords

By setting priorities for the whole list of keywords in this clustering project, you can ensure you’re targeting the most important and relevant keywords for your car dealership. With a complete list of keywords, you can execute and plan a year’s worth of content with ease.

Step 5: Make a Content Production Process

As a dealership owner looking to implement SEO on your website, you really need to have a process and create detailed SOPs or content briefs to ensure the success of your plan. 

Here are two tips to help you note down a thorough content creation and optimization process:

Screenshot of Outranking's on-page local SEO widget.
What will your plan look like?

1. Create Solid Content Briefs

You can’t create a solid content plan if you don’t know your target audience, their pain points, and the keywords they use to search for your products and services. That’s where an SEO content brief comes in! It helps you define your content’s goals, target audience, keywords, and type. This way, you can achieve your automotive SEO marketing objectives. 

2. Set up a Workflow for the Tasks

Setting up an optimal workflow for the tasks involved in your content production process will help you stay organized. It’ll also help everyone involved in the process be aware of their responsibilities. With a good workflow, you can also identify bottlenecks and areas where you need to improve efficiency to ensure your plan is executed successfully.
Outranking’s content planner can help you achieve all three of these expert tips. Outranking has predefined workflow status you can customize to fit your needs. Additionally, Outranking’s Kanban view allows you to see what stage your documents are in at a glance, and you can easily access any of your documents in a click.

Screenshot of Outranking's Kanban board.
Look at this organization!

If you don’t have an in-house team to help you with your SEO plan, it may be beneficial to hire an expert agency or Outranking to help you make this plan come to fruition for your dealership. 

Step 6: Create SEO-Optimized Content

Creating SEO-optimized content for each service page and blog is crucial for making sure your car dealership is spending money on content that will yield results. By optimizing your content, you can improve your website’s search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic. 

This means that potential customers are more likely to find your dealership when searching for relevant keywords on search engines like Google.

Screenshot of Outranking's on-page SEO optimizer.
Looks like we’re good to go.

Outranking’s SEO content optimization and writing platform can help busy car dealers who have limited time to write and optimize their service pages and blog posts. With its advanced features and real-time optimization capabilities, Outranking can provide suggestions for on-page SEO optimization on how to improve your content’s title tags and meta descriptions, outlines, word count, common NLP terms, unique entities, list and tables, statistics, media and alt text, internal and external links, and even featured snippets. 

Outranking can help car dealerships’ web teams to create content that ranks each and every time, ensuring the highest possible organic exposure. This can save car dealerships time and money, making it a great alternative to hiring an agency, consultant, or freelancer.

Step 7: Optimize Internal Linking

Optimizing existing pages with better internal linking can help improve your website’s overall traffic. How? Basically, you borrow authority from pages that are already well, and you transfer it to the ones that aren’t. 

Outranking can connect to Google Search Console by linking the accounts and importing the data. Once connected, Outranking can identify the pages on the website that are ranking between 1 and 14 for specific keywords and show internal linking opportunities. 

This can help you make informed decisions on which pages to optimize for better internal linking and ultimately, improve your website’s ranking and traffic.

Step 8: Acquire Backlinks and Local Citations

Acquiring local citations and backlinks is crucial for the local SEO of your car dealership website. Local citations help search engines verify the existence, legitimacy, relevance, and trustworthiness of a business.

If the same details appear across many relevant and trusted websites, then search engine algorithms are likely to have increased confidence that your business exists, is operational, and that what you say about it is true. After all, citations are the fifth most important ranking signal for local queries.

Screenshot of a Yelp page for Shine Autos.
It’s currently closed but you can go tomorrow at 10!

The more local citations your dealership has, the more people can discover it online. People often go to sites like Yelp, Yellow pPages, and specialist directories to find local businesses. So if you’re listed on these sites, it’s a great opportunity for you! 

But you should know citations come in two types: structured and unstructured. Structured citations list the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of your business. Directory listings and social media profiles are good examples of these. Unstructured citations are contextual mentions of a business. They usually show up in blog posts, forum posts, or as a result of press mentions.

We’ve gathered four top tips to help you build citations for your car dealership:

  1. Get listed with the ‘big three’ data aggregators: Acxiom, Data Axle, and Neustar Localeze
  2. Submit to platform core sites like Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo Local
  3. Submit to popular industry and local sites like Edmunds,, DealerRater, and Autotrader
  4. Go after unstructured citations. Talk to journalists to mention your dealership in the local news articles or blog posts, or partner with influencers or other public figures

The table below lists the data aggregators and the websites car dealers should get citations from.

Data AggregatorWebsites to Get Citations From
AxiomYelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook
InfogroupGoogle My Business, Bing Places, Yahoo Local
Neustar LocalezeFoursquare, CitySearch, SuperPages
Screenshot of a Yellow Pages profile for Gyro Mazda.
This is a strong profile for a car dealership, and yours can be too!

Step 9: Optimize Page Speed and Website Experience

Page speed is a crucial aspect of rankings in 2023. So you should seek to optimize your car dealership’s page speed and UX, which will increase engagement and ultimately drive more sales. 

To quickly optimize page speed and website experience, you can use better and lighter themes such as automotive dealer themes on CodeCanyon and NitroPack-like WordPress plugins. Here are some other tips: 

  • Compress images with ImageOptim, JPEGmini, or Kraken
  • Use HTML responsive images <secret> and <size> attributes to adjust image size based on user display properties
  • Consider using Virtual Private Servers (VPS) hosting or a dedicated server for faster website speed and performance
  • Check all installed plugins and delete unnecessary ones. Run performance tests to identify which plugins are slowing down the website
  • Optimize your dealership site both for mobile and desktop

Step 10: Track Rankings Using Google Search Console

For a car dealership, connecting to Google Search Console and tracking the website ranking is crucial as it can help increase organic traffic and improve SEO strategies. 

Car dealers should also use business analytics tools such as Google Analytics for getting detailed insights about their websites and mobile apps. By using the ranking data, you can uncover many things about your dealership website: which pages need better linking, where you can add fresh content, and which pages are underperforming. 

To interpret the website ranking data, use the following table:

GoalRanking DataAction
Improve internal linkingPages that rank between 4-14 for specific keywordsFind pages with keywords in the top 4-14 positions
Build topical authorityPages with no ranking keywords in the top 20 positions that don’t align with the user’s search intentFind new opportunities to create fresh content
Improve underperforming pagesPages with no ranking keywords in the top 20 positions that don’t align with the user’s search intentImprove or redirect pages

By analyzing the ranking data and taking appropriate actions, you can enhance your car dealership’s SEO strategy, attract more potential customers, and increase sales.

Step 11: Optimize Your Automotive Dealership’s Local Google My Business Account

Google My Business is a free service that allows businesses to provide more information about their business when it appears in searches, including photos, videos, business hours, and links to reservation services. To optimize their listing for local search, follow these practical steps:

  1. Claim and verify your Google My Business listings. Include only accurate and up-to-date information, including your business name, address, and phone number
  2. Add high-quality photos and videos of your dealership. Showcase your showroom, service center, and inventory, or even post videos of your teams at work
  3. Provide detailed descriptions of your services and products., Highlight the brands you work with, and the models you have, and mention your financing options, trade-in values, car listings, and warranty programs
  4. Respond to customer reviews and feedback promptly and professionally. Always reply respectfully, thank satisfied customers, and offer solutions to dissatisfied customers
  5. Use relevant keywords and phrases in your business description. Use keywords such as “new cars,” “used cars,” “auto financing,” and “car maintenance” to attract potential customers searching for those terms
  6. Keep your business information up to date. Update your working hours on holidays and special events, or promote seasonal sales and new model launches 

Utilize Google My Business insights. This way you can track your performance and adjust your strategy accordingly

Screenshot of three car dealerships in Boston, from their Google My Business listing.
They’re all closed, but are you open?

To ensure that their Google My Business listing is fully optimized, a car dealership may want to consider hiring a digital marketing agency that specializes in local search optimization. An agency can provide expert guidance and support, as well as ongoing monitoring and maintenance of their listing.

Step 12: Focus on the Ultimate Goal — Leads and Sales

Most websites focus on organic traffic because it’s a cost-effective way to attract potential clients to their websites. But organic traffic isn’t always good. 

For example, a short-tailed keyword like “cars” may bring in a lot of traffic, but most of it may not be relevant to a car dealership. On the other hand, a more specific keyword like “used car dealership in [city name]” may bring in fewer visitors, but they are more likely to be interested in the dealership’s services.

So always focus on your leads and sales versus just boosting traffic. Ultimately, your end goal isn’t just to show your website to people — you want them to become paying customers. So always target specific keywords, and provide relevant, useful content. This will help your website visitors make a decision about your business, leading to more conversions. 

How to Evaluate an Agency to Help with the SEO of Your Car Dealership

Expertise, Reviews, and Results

When evaluating an agency to help with the SEO of your car dealership’s website, it is important to consider their expertise, reviews, and results. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Look for an agency with expertise in the automotive industry. They’ll have a better understanding of your competitive landscape. They’ll also be more creative and innovative in their strategic design
  2. Check the agency’s reviews. Look online for people who have worked with the agency before: what do they have to say about it? Approach the agency and ask them for case studies to assess their success
  3. Assess whether their proven results match your vision. Did they help other customers achieve what you want to achieve? Ensure the agency can personalize its approach so you can get the results you want, not cookie-cutter ideas and templates 

SEO Services Offered

When evaluating an agency to help with SEO for your car dealership’s website, consider some key factors:

  1. Evaluate their process. A good SEO service provider will have a proven process for website audits and search engine optimization. They should be able to explain their process to you in detail and show you how it will be customized to meet your dealership’s needs
  2. Look for real-world automotive SEO experience. SEO might be easy in theory, but that’s not enough. Look for an agency with at least 10 years of real-life experience, and see how they’ve evolved over the years. This will help you ensure you get a customized approach to your dealership’s SEO strategy
  3. Ask insightful questions to see how they operate. For example, suppose you’re a car dealership in Los Angeles. You can ask things like:
    1. Do you provide car dealers with SEO services?
    2. How would you approach SEO for a dealership that specializes in electric cars?
    3. Can you explain your process for conducting a website audit and developing an SEO strategy? How would that process be customized for our dealership?
    4. What kind of results have you achieved for other automotive clients? Can you share any statistics on increased website traffic or leads generated?

By asking these kinds of questions, you can evaluate potential SEO agencies and find the one that is best suited to help your car dealership succeed online.

Contract Duration and Flexibility

Look for an agency that offers flexible contract durations. A good agency should be willing to work with you on a contract that fits your needs, whether that’s a short-term engagement or a long-term partnership. Additionally, make sure the agency is willing to adjust its strategy as needed based on your dealership’s changing needs and goals.

Also, communication is key when working with an SEO agency. Look for an agency that is responsive and communicative, and that provides regular updates on their progress and results. A good agency should be transparent about its strategies and tactics and should be willing to answer any questions you have along the way.

Need an SEO Strategist to Set up the Plan and Answer All the Pressing Questions?

If you’re looking to increase your small business website rankings, you need a solid SEO plan. However, if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of SEO, it can be a daunting task to take on alone. 

That’s where an SEO consultant comes in. By hiring an SEO consultant like Outranking’s SEO consultant and strategist, you can get the guidance and expertise you need to ensure that your SEO plan is solid and effective.

Outrankings can provide you with a comprehensive analysis of your website, identify areas for improvement, and develop a customized SEO plan that meets your specific needs. With our help, you can improve your website’s ranking, increase organic traffic, and build brand trust and credibility.

Outranking’s SEO consultant and strategist has extensive experience in the field of SEO and has worked with numerous car dealerships and dealers to help them achieve their online marketing goals. 

We offer a full range of services, including competitive analysis, technical SEO audits, and fixes, optimization of web content, creation of new web content, local search optimization, and backlink building.

Contact Outranking today to get started on your SEO journey!