News Trader Talk

Trader Talk: Web search optimisation cannot be seen as a luxury

Time 8:20 am, November 4, 2013

Anthony RobinsonTRADERS are paying for campaigns that do not deliver as they should – more than half of dealers are failing to recognise the importance of search engine optimisation for their business, according to a recent industry survey.

When asked whether they allocated any budget to SEO, 57 per cent said ‘no’. The survey followed the publication of a report which showed that almost three out of four businesses (71 per cent) plan to increase digital marketing spend this year, with SEO a popular area for investment. However, the survey results suggest this trend is not reflected in the automotive retail industry.

Many dealer websites still struggle to incorporate a strategy to maximise SEO potential. With nine out of 10 buyers turning to search engines as their first port of call when it comes to finding their next used car, it’s vital that dealers target the right people in their SEO and pay-per-click strategy to deliver quality traffic to their websites. The reality, though, is often very different.

It’s not uncommon for us to discover dealers targeting keywords which are not relevant or do not reflect the way car buyers are searching. It means that dealers are not only failing to attract the right people to their websites but they are also paying for search campaigns that are not delivering as well as they should.

Dealers should focus on Google because it is by far the most popular search engine in the UK — accounting for more than 90 per cent of all UK searches. In most cases, if a website ranks well on Google it will also rank well on all other search engines. There are two elements to the search engine optimisation process: ‘onpage’ or ‘onsite’ optimisation and ‘offpage’ or ‘offsite’ optimisation.

Onpage optimisation presents web pages to search engines in a language that they can read easily. Just as many English-speakers couldn’t read a French novel, there are some websites where search engines find the code difficult to read. Offpage optimisation looks at the amount and quality of websites that link to your website.

Links from other websites are vital for SEO performance. Getting the right number and right quality of links to your website is one of the main ranking factors that search engines use to determine who ranks top. It’s a very tricky balance and the main reason why dealers should look to use a specialist SEO agency.

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Unless the balance is exactly right, performance on search engines can suffer.

There are a number of ways to measure success but the main thing to measure should be the number and quality of sales leads that a campaign generates. Ideally, conversion of leads to actual sales should also be monitored to measure the success of the campaign based on return on investment.

The importance of SEO should not be underestimated. It is not an optional ‘like to do’, it is an essential ‘need to do’ that will raise a dealer’s profile and deliver quality leads.




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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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