Automotive SEO Best Practices
Our Expert Guide to SEO for Automotive Brands
Digital marketing is important for every type of business. However, it’s particularly critical for automotive brands operating in a competitive industry to have an effective digital strategy in place. Increasing your brand’s online visibility allows you to generate leads and boost revenue, which is why search engine optimization (SEO) is such an essential element of a successful digital marketing strategy.
In this SEO guide for the automotive industry, we’ll cover everything you need to know about optimizing your site for top rankings, including:
- The importance of SEO for automotive brands
- Keyword research for automotive brands
- On-page SEO for automotive brands
- Off-page SEO for automotive brands
- Technical SEO for automotive brands
- Local SEO for automotive brands
Do you need help with your SEO? Then book a discovery call with one of our experts!
The Importance of SEO
Whether you’re an automotive manufacturer, a car dealer, or a car parts retailer, an effective SEO strategy will help you to drive targeted traffic to your website – in other words, visitors that you will have a good chance of converting into customers. Especially if your website’s user experience (UX) has been optimized.
SEO works to ensure that your website ranks highly for the keywords your target audience is searching for most frequently. By doing so, you’ll increase your rankings for these key terms on search engine results pages (SERPs) and enhance your brand’s online visibility.
Remember – 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine, so boosting your SEO rankings should be a top priority if you want to engage your target audience and outperform your competitors.
If an automotive SEO strategy is the foundation of your digital marketing strategy, then think of keyword research as the foundation of your search engine optimization. Improving your rankings will only be beneficial if you increase your rankings for the right keywords, so don’t overlook the importance of conducting detailed keyword research.
It’s easy to assume that you know what your target audience is searching for online, but a little keyword research can uncover interesting trends and hidden search terms that reap profitable results.
If your automotive business specializes in selling Toyota car parts, for example, ranking in the top spot for the following search terms may deliver tons of traffic to your site:
- Car parts
- Cheap car parts
- Best car parts
But think ahead and consider how much of the traffic generated by these keywords will equate to sales. After all, ranking highly for ‘car parts’ and ‘cheap car parts’ means you’ll be generating website traffic that consists of users who are looking for car parts to fit other vehicles.
In addition to this, broad keywords such as those above tend to have a lot of competition, which means it will take longer for your website to increase its rankings and significantly more investment.
In contrast, a strategic approach to your keyword research in your marketing efforts will help you to create a more tailored list of target search terms, such as:
- Toyota car parts
- Toyota Corolla car spares
- Toyota Supra suspension arm replacement
- Toyota Yaris parts nearside headlight
While these keywords may not have such a high search volume, they are highly targeted and, as a result, they’ll generate targeted traffic that consists of users who have a higher purchasing intent. Furthermore, these long-tail keywords are typically easier to rank for, which may accelerate your SEO strategy.
Remember – SEO isn’t just about generating website traffic: it’s about generating website traffic that’s likely to convert into sales. By creating a list of target keywords that consists of both broad and long-tail keywords, you can increase your brand’s online visibility and drive ‘ready-to-convert’ leads directly to your web pages.
Now you’ve got a list of keywords you want to target, it’s time to start optimizing your web pages to improve your rankings and on-page SEO is the first step. This element of SEO essentially refers to everything on your web pages (or entire website) that helps you achieve high rankings for your target keywords.
However, there are a lot of components that go into on-page SEO, including:
- Title Tag and Meta Description
- Header Tags
- URL Structure
- Image Optimization
- Internal Links
- External Links
First and foremost, you need to publish top-quality content if you want to rank highly, engage your target audience, and boost conversions. While it’s important to incorporate your target keyword into a web page, avoid keyword stuffing and focus on drafting compelling copy that users will find genuinely interesting or useful.
Writing blogs that answer commonly asked questions surrounding your services or products is a great way to generate website traffic. For instance, if you sell spare car parts, you could write a blog titled ‘how to buy car parts online’. If you rank well for this search query, you will consistently be placing your services in front of people looking to bar car parts online.
Search engines, like Google, are becoming more advanced all of the time and they’re now capable of identifying a user’s search intent from the keywords they use. In response, Google wants to direct the user to web pages that will resolve the user’s query – not just web pages that contain the same search terms.
So, prioritize quality when you’re drafting your digital content and publish a regular flow of content in various formats to keep your target audience engaged and active.
A meta title tag appears as a header when your web page is shown on SERPs, which means it has a huge impact on the keywords you rank for and whether a user clicks through to your website. Use target keywords in your title tags to increase your rankings, but keep titles short, catchy, and action-oriented to entice users.
While meta descriptions don’t directly impact your rankings, they are shown on SERPs so they do have an impact on click-through rates. Here, you have around 140-160 characters to encourage users to click on your web page. Again, use calls to action and differentiate your brand from the competition to drive traffic to your site.
Within your web page content, you’ll want to use different headers to break up the content, grab the user’s attention, and signpost important elements of the page. You may use an h1 heading as the main page heading before using h2, h3, and h4 sub-headings, for example.
Incorporating target keywords into these headings is a good way of telling Google what the page is about, so be sure to optimize these headings for optimal rankings.
URLs tell search engines and users what a web page is about but a good URL structure also signifies that your site is well laid out and easy to navigate (which Google likes too!). Ideally, you’ll keep URLs relatively short, systematic, and break them up with hyphens. For example:
is clearer and more appealing than:
Media content, such as images and video, is a great way to present information in different ways. As well as enhancing the design of your automotive web pages, media assets will help to keep your target audience interested and engaged.
However, it’s important to optimize images and videos so that they are displayed effectively across all devices and have a positive impact on your SEO rankings. By keeping image sizes below 100kb, adding informative alt text to media assets, and using image and video titles, for example, you can ensure they are successfully optimized.
Media optimization is a particular concern for automotive websites because high-quality images are extremely important. Customers will want to see a visual representation of their investment, especially if it is a significant one. Therefore, it’s crucial that you balance image quality with file size on your website.
As well as featuring an easy-to-use menu, be sure to include internal links on your web pages so that users find it easy to navigate around your website. If you’re operating an automotive dealership website, for example, you may want users to go from browsing vehicles to your financing web page before heading to your contact page.
Placing relevant internal links on the right web pages shapes the customer’s journey and propels them through the search funnel. It also improves crawlability the ability of a search engine to access your web pages and crawl their content) and reassures search engines that your site is relevant to the user’s query.
Internal links help users navigate your website, so why risk interrupting their user journey by sending them to an external site? Well, search engines view websites with high-quality external links as trustworthy, which can help to improve your SEO performance.
To avoid losing customers, be strategic about which external links you feature. For example, you won’t want to link to a competitor but, if your target audience consists of car buyers, they may find links to Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority website particularly useful.
As the name suggests, off-page SEO encompasses everything you do ‘off’ your website to support your automotive SEO strategy. Backlinks (a link from another website to yours) are one of the most important aspects of off-page SEO, but always try to focus on quality over quantity.
High-quality backlinks show search engines that other reputable websites trust your content. In turn, this makes search engines view your site more favorably, which can increase your rankings.
Securing backlinks from sites with high domain authorities can be tricky but there are many ways to do this. Publishing guest articles on well-known websites, securing editorials in online publications, and adding your company to online business listings can be effective ways to secure powerful backlinks.
Even relatively small actions, such as completing your Google Business Profile, can be a valuable way of boosting your SEO performance and achieving higher rankings for your target keywords. We will cover this in more detail under “Local SEO” later in this blog.
Many people assume that search engine performance and organic rankings are based solely on the quality of your website’s content, but this simply isn’t the case. While high-quality content will certainly help secure high rankings, you’ll need to ensure that the technical aspects of your site and your content meet search engines’ expectations too.
To optimize your technical SEO, you’ll need to work on a variety of elements, including:
- Site Structure
- Indexed Pages
- Canonical Tags
- Structured Data
- Site Security
- Page Speeds
- Mobile Friendliness
Both users and search engines need to be able to navigate your website easily, which means the structure is integral to your online success. A simple mind map can be a useful way to figure out how your site should be structured.
Move from your homepage to main menu pages (e.g. Products, Blog, About Us, Contact) before splitting into sections, such as product categories, before moving on to individual pages, like product pages.
Search engines will only show indexed web pages on their SERPs, so it’s essential to make sure that every web page you want to appear in search results can be crawled and indexed. A file known as robots.txt will tell the search engine which pages can be crawled and which ones can’t, so pay attention to the information it provides and adjust technical settings to ensure the pages you want to be visible on SERPs are crawled and indexed.
In general, search engines don’t like duplicate content (or content they assume is duplicated). For many automotive websites, this can be difficult to overcome but canonical tags provide a viable solution.
Let’s go back to the Toyota Car Parts website as an example. You may have different product pages for items that are very similar, such as:
- Toyota Corolla Mk 12 Brake Pads – Front
- Toyota Corolla Mk 12 Brake Pads – Rear
- Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4 17” Alloy Wheels
- Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4 18” Alloy Wheels
As well as being similarly named, it’s likely that the content on these pages will be fairly similar, which is why it’s easy for search engines to assume it’s duplicated.
A canonical tag is a small piece of HTML code that tells search engines which page is the ‘main’ page when multiple pages contain duplicate or near-duplicate content. This ensures only the page with canonical tag is indexable and, in turn, prevents your rankings from being negatively impacted by content that search engines perceive as duplicated.
If you have 15 product pages with different types of alloy wheels for a Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4, you may want to make a main page entitled ‘Toyota Land Cruiser Mk 4 Alloy Wheels’ and use canonical tags to make sure this is the only page indexed and visible when users search for related content. From this page, internal links will make it easy for users to find the specific product they’re looking for, thus enhancing the UX and improving your SEO performance.
Publishing product information in a recognizable, structured format makes it easier for search engines to interpret and can, therefore, improve your rankings. There are various structured data methods, but Schema is particularly relevant for eCommerce sites and is widely used throughout the automotive industry.
You can use FAQ Schema to increase your chances of ranking within Google’s FAQs on relevant SERPs. For example, ItemList Schema can tell search engines what’s on your category and subcategory pages and Product Schema allows search engines to access more information about your inventory.
Optimal site security will increase your website’s trustworthiness, which can enhance SEO rankings, but it will also reassure potential customers that they’re dealing with a reputable and reliable company.
If you’re still using HTTP, for example, it’s certainly time to switch to HTTPS. As well as positively impacting your rankings, your site visitors will have increased confidence that you’re processing their data safely and securely.
Page loading times have a direct impact on SEO rankings and user behavior. Recent studies showed that the highest eCommerce conversion rates occur on websites with page loading speeds between 0 – 2 seconds. The longer your web pages take to load, the higher your bounce rate will be, so make speeding up your website a top priority if you want to increase your rankings and optimize the UX.
Mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of all web traffic and Google’s transition to ‘mobile-first indexing’ means it’s increasingly important for your website to deliver a fantastic mobile user experience.
Despite this, many companies still assume that a desktop website will perform well on mobile devices without the need for any changes. In fact, screen sizes and internet speeds can drastically impact how effectively content is displayed on mobile devices, so don’t overlook the importance of increasing your site’s mobile-friendliness.
With responsive web design, for example, you can ensure that your site delivers an optimal UX across a wide range of devices and fulfill Google’s mobile-first indexing requirements.
With local SEO, you can attract website traffic that consists of users from a particular geographical location and increase brand awareness within a specific region. If you want to attract car buyers in Dubai, for example, there is little point in ranking highly for searches made in New York or London!
Even if you’re running a brick-and-mortar business, local SEO can increase footfall and allow you to attract potential customers to your premises. After all, 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else.
When users search for local businesses, such as ‘car dealerships in Dubai’ or ‘car repair shop near me’, Google’s SERPs show both regular organic links and its ‘map pack’. By increasing your local SEO rankings for relevant areas, you can ensure your website ranks highly for both organic links and features on the map pack.
To do this, simply select the geographical locations you most want to target and incorporate these into your keyword research and subsequent content creation. As well as targeting ‘Toyota dealership’, for example, you may want to target ‘Toyota dealership Dubai’ or ‘Buy Toyota Deira’.
Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google’s search engine and maps. By creating a well-optimized and regularly updated Google My Business profile, automotive companies can increase their visibility on Google’s search results, attract more local customers, and ultimately boost their sales.
Additionally, Google My Business provides valuable information such as the company’s address, phone number, website, reviews, and hours of operation, making it easier for potential customers to find and connect with the business.
Executing the Right Automotive SEO Strategy
SEO for the automotive industry can be complex but, when it’s done well, it can reap great rewards. While implementing and maintaining an effective strategy can be time-consuming, working with an SEO agency or SEO consultant can enhance your online visibility, accelerate results, and boost your rankings.
To find out more, book a free SEO discovery call with our in-house experts today and supercharge your automotive SEO strategy.