Proactively building reviews is a huge part of local search and with Internet Sales 20 Group Dallas right around the corner and reputation management front and center, I'm rolling out the most important indicators that get you more visible in local search.
When you look closer at the Non-Google local search engines such as Yelp, YP.com, etc. you will find a significant amount of highly-qualified consumer search traffic. The question is: do you know which data about your dealership will influence how you rank in local search engines?
Each and everyone of the indicators below are the arteries to the heart, that if ignored could form a clot and kill your hopes of dominating on local searches.
There are four categories:
- Relevancy Indicators
- Popularity Indicators
- Distance Indicators
- Advertiser Value
These are indicators that tend to be directly related to the phrases input into a search interface. These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised (or not) how many dealerships get these wrong:
- Dealership Name: Dealership names are vital for potential buyers who search for your specific dealership or search for a keyword that is also in your dealer name. Certainly, categories will always be king. You might think it’s a no brainer, but never let potential customers find your dealership name spelled incorrectly. Happens more frequently than you might think.
- Dealership Category: Categorization is important because search engines categorize and map keywords. Therefore, it is worthwhile to run some test queries on your keywords. Be aware of how to target the more granular (aka long tail) categories to enable you to have more chances to show up for these qualified queries. Generally you’re allowed up to five categories. Be clear though. The specialty models of the cars you sell may not be available as a direct category. Therefore, the best practice is to include the brands in your title on your listing (up to two brands), as you may be in danger of spamming your listing directory.
- Dealership Description & Keywords: The right keywords can help increase your visibility for queries. When typing in a query your prospects often see presumptive suggestions of longer tail keywords in the search box. If searching for service repair, search engines will offer suggestions that get quite granular; for example, “factory trained technicians”. Those types of keywords included in your dealership description will make your dealership more findable. Make sure the relevant suggestions are included in your dealership descriptions.
- Enhanced Content is the key to dominating local searches. Images, logos, videos, (what we call enhanced content) will lift your CTR by 2.5 times or 250% more traffic. One major missed opportunity to improve CTR’s is a Featured Message. Yext is a great tool to provide real time updates of your content to your dealership listings.
For example, use fresh content in your featured message (a 50 character highlighted featured message syndicated from your Yext dashboard) Dealers are using this space to promote a sale or even get more LIKES on Facebook. Perhaps you share a fact about the dealership and build credibility with a link to the dealer site.
- Dealership Services: Services are another form of categorization. I like to think of services as informal categories, kind of like a tag. So, [Auto Dealer] would be a category and [Value Your Trade], [New Vehicles], [Service Repair], etc., would be services. Make sure you understand the most popular services that you offer and include them in your listing.
- Association With a National or Regional Chain: If your dealership is part of a chain, it’s important that local search engines understand this. Chain store dealership listings often contain inconsistent data that cannot be easily normalized. For example, a site may have three listings with the names [Auto Center], [Auto Center, The], [The Auto Center #234]. They all refer to the same chain. But, if you did a pure dealership name match on [Auto Center], you would get a less than optimal sort order; so, understanding that these listings are associated with a chain helps the search engine consolidate these listings into a single entry.
- Click Thru Rates: A listing’s performance, when it appears in results, is an indicator of its potential to satisfy the query. Most sophisticated local search engines reward listings with high CTRs with better rankings. There are plenty of things a dealership can do to improve CTR on a directory, starting with making sure the above Relevancy Indicators are as up-to-date and targeted as possible. Presenting offers along with high-quality images and videos can also increase CTR.
- Ratings & Reviews: Get them and get them often. Five stars helps. And, Google and Yelp are not the only places where reviews count. At this point, every major local search engine has a review system.
The location of your dealership combined with the location of the searcher is critical to the display of results. Often, the importance of these indicators can vary based on what the user is searching for and what kind of device they are using. I advise you to look for the option of a service area field that allows you to plug in your surrounding zip codes.
- Dealership Proximity: How close a dealership is to the searched location. Depending on the category of the query and dealership density, proximity will matter more or less.
- Dealership Service Area: While physical location typically trumps most other location indicators, for dealership categories with wide service areas, proximity is not as important. For example, dealers in less populated rural areas often have large service areas. So when someone is looking for one, it’s not critical to only show dealerships that are nearby. In the case of queries that map to large service areas, it’s likely that popularity indicators will help determine if dealerships that are farther away from the searched city show up high.
- Web & Mobile Search Radius Customization: Queries from mobile devices typically return results with tighter radii. If your strategy is to rank for mobile queries, you will need to figure out how to improve other data indicators such as reviews, service area, etc., to compensate for the limited range of the results.
- Dealership Density: As mentioned above, if there are fewer dealerships in your area competing for a category, you are more likely to show up better, but you will likely be competing against dealerships in a larger service area. Conversely, if there are more dealerships, the competition nearby will be stronger.
- Searched Geo: When a user specifies a specific location in their query, it’s usually a indicators that they are prioritizing location; so it’s more likely that the search engine will favor dealerships located in the searched geo in its results. If your potential customers tend to search this way, then you may consider opening locations in multiple cities to account for this.
Of course, we’re all in this to make money, so understanding how the advertiser display system on a search engine works, either in your favor or against you, can be helpful.
- Advertiser Levels: Typically, sites have different tiers of advertisers, which can affect which queries display the ad and what gets displayed (e.g., logo, like, tagline, video, bold, etc.)
- Advertiser Keywords: In cases where advertisers get to pick the keywords to target, it is important for them to understand if these are the right keywords to target. Often times, local search engines can have relatively weak keyword-mapping. If so, your dealership may show up for keywords that you are not targeting (and you get charged for the privilege). Therefore, understanding how the search engine maps keywords can be critical to saving you from wasting ad dollars.
- Advertiser Boost: Many search engines offer an organic rankings boost to advertisers as an incentive.
- Deals & Coupons: Consumers love coupons. Local search engines love advertisers who offer them.
- Listing Quality: This basically gets to the completeness of a listing. If you can outdo your competitors with filling out your listings, you will likely tend to outrank them in the local search engines. This is one of the biggest areas of opportunity. There are millions of listings out there that still have not been claimed and updated. One big yellow pages site told me that only about 10% of their millions of listings had been claimed. So, go out and claim them if you haven’t already, and you could put yourself ahead of the pack.
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