How SEO for Automotive Websites is Unique

SEO, or search engine optimization, is an absolutely essential tool for car dealerships and automotive companies in the internet age. But when it comes to the auto industry, you can’t always apply general SEO principles and hope they’ll get the job done.

Nancy Rothman

You need an effective SEO strategy that’s customized to your industry, company, and audience. That’s why it’s essential to know how SEO for auto companies and car dealerships is different from general SEO practices.

What is SEO?

But first, what exactly do we mean when we talk about SEO? Search engine optimization is the art and science of giving your website and business a better chance of showing up in relevant search results from potential customers.

Basically, it’s how you make sure your ideal customers can find you online. You do this several ways—

  • Placing relevant keywords throughout your website, telling search engine algorithms that it’s relevant to your target audience. (For example, if your website features the phrase ‘car dealership in northern Virginia’ multiple times, your site is more likely to appear when people search for ‘car dealership in Virginia”
  • Ensuring that your website and business are properly listed and catalogued everywhere customers might find them, from search results to Google My Business listings and even review sites like Yelp.
  • Ensuring that your website provides visitors with real value, and the content/features they expect to find when they get there. Google penalizes websites that visitors quickly leave, suggesting they didn’t find what they were looking for there.

SEO Challenges for Automotive Websites

For car dealerships and automotive websites, there can be some unique challenges to confront with your SEO strategy. Here are some of the biggest areas of concern.

Multiple Locations

Many dealerships or companies have multiple locations across multiple cities, which can make localized SEO difficult. You need your search engine optimization net to include multiple markets, cities, and sometimes even states.

Multiple Business Types

Many car dealerships aren’t just one kind of business— they’re three. They sell new cars, buy and sell pre-owned vehicles, and also have an onsite body and repair shop. Targeting users who qualify for each of these three categories can be a challenge when it comes to your SEO strategy.

Intense Competition

You don’t need us to tell you just how intense competition can be between local car dealerships. If you’re trying to boost your SEO, you can bet that your competitor is right behind you, or already a step ahead.

The more competition there is for certain search terms,

Key Factors for Great Auto Dealer SEO

Here are some of the most important factors for successful and effective car dealership SEO.

Localized Success

When you try to optimize your site for specific keywords or key phrases, you’re competing with literally every other business or individual in the world using that phrase. If you’re trying to become the #1 search result when someone searches ‘car dealership,’ you’re facing an uphill struggle.

But if you’re a car dealership in Gary, Indiana, you don’t need to get visibility from customers in Miami, Florida. You don’t have to put yourself in competition with the entire industry when you only need to beat out the locals.

That means rather than going for broad, general keywords, you should go for localized ones. ‘Car dealerships in X City,’ for example. Or ‘Chevrolet dealers in X state.’

The more you narrow your audience, the less competition you’ll face—and the more likely that each lead who sees your website is likely to find what they’re looking for there.

The Power of the Long-Tail

Another way you can avoid heavy competition is by targeting more specific, niche keywords. Yes, while these will have less search volume, they’ll also have fewer competitors targeting them. These can include specific year/make/model combinations that you carry paired with common queries, such as “2020 Chevy Equinox towing capacity.”

Google My Business

Google’s business pages are one of the most trusted sources of discovery and reviews around. Think about how often you investigate a local business on it’s Google My Business page before shopping— you check its ratings, maybe read some reviews, etc.

Your business should be well-represented on this page— great reviews, professional images, a clear description, and essential info like your website, phone number, and business hours.

Image Optimization

Every year, the amount of people searching for ‘pictures of [car brand]’ goes up by nearly 40%. Did you know that you can apply SEO to your images? Every image on your website has what’s called metadata, which is text that’s not seen by users but which tells search engines what the image is about. Every image you upload should come with specific metadata that also features the location— for example, “picture of [CAR BRAND] interior for sale in [CITY].


Reviews are absolutely essential for car dealerships, more than nearly any other business. If you don’t have many reviews, find a way to gather them. If you have negative reviews, reach out to the reviewers immediately and warmly. See what you can do to address their concerns and turn a negative review into a positive one.

Not only will lots of positive reviews and ratings help search engines rank you more highly, but it will also help your leads turn into site visitors more often.

Ready to optimize your dealership’s website to be found? Contact us today.

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