As a car dealership, automotive SEO, to include link building for your car dealership should be a main focus of your businesses marketing plan. Inbound marketing tactics are unique as they allow you to connect with people actively searching for a new car.
Whether the search is broad such as “affordable used cars” or specific like “used Toyota Four Runner” , a good SEO strategy will give you an inside look at both how your potential customers are searching and which searches are going to be most lucrative for your dealership.
Automotive SEO can essentially be broken down into a couple of “prongs”. On-page SEO, Google Maps SEO, and Link Building being the main three. Within these main prongs you will also have several subsets.
For example, link building can be broken down into citations, PR outreach, and standard link building tactics such as blogger outreach, broken link building, or local resource page link building.
Hitting all three prongs is going to yield the best results, but in many cases auto dealership websites are built by one of the main few companies, leaving little control to the dealer when it comes to site speed, technical SEO, and similar on page optimization practices.
Fortunately, link building is one area that you are not limited by your website provider, except for their attempt to keep your funds with them instead of with a link building agency of course.
As one of the top ranking factors year after year, there is no denying the importance of link building for car dealers, so today, we are going to talk about what a good car dealer link building program should look like and how you can get started.
What Types of Links Should Car Dealerships Look to Acquire?
The overall link building plan is the strategy. The individual types of links used during any campaigns are tactics. Competitive research will help you build a strategy and select the most effective tactics. Here are some common tactics that may be used:
- Resource Page Link Building
- Geo-Targeted Link Building
- Broken Link Building
- PR Syndication & Targeted PR Outreach
- Citation Building
- Blogger Outreach
Once you analyze your competitors, the most effective tactics for your particular case will start to emerge from the data collected.
Below, we are going to discuss some of these tactics.
Is There a Difference in Locally Themed Links and Niche Themed Links?
There are several types of links that can positively impact your rankings and help you generate more traffic and VDP views. The main two categories of links used will be niche specific links and Geo-relevant links.
Niche Relevant Link Building
A niche specific link is one on an automotive website or other website that has an audience that may be interested in what you have to offer. This could include auto repair, budget themed sites talking about the real cost of vehicle ownership, or even a forum relating to a specific type of vehicle. While these links are not specific to your location, they are natural, relevant, and highly effective. In some cases, niche relevant links are even cheaper to acquire than Geo-relevant links as you have a bigger pool to work from.
Geo-Relevant Link Building
A Geo-relevant link is one that comes from a site in the same city or nearby cities. While niche specific links are focused on finding relevancy, Geo link building is focused on creating local signals.
For example, if your car dealership were to sponsor a sports team in your city and get a link from their website, it would be relevant geographically, but sports and cars are certainly not in the same niche, barring motorsports.
This type of link is still very effective though, as it demonstrates to Google that you have a real presence in the location you claim to do business in. This type of link can help with both your Google map rankings and your organic rankings too, just like niche specific links. The downside of this approach can be cost, as there are fewer sites to contact in many cities, meaning fewer links for the same spend.
Ideally, a good link building program will include both niche and Geo-relevant links to balance benefits and cost for your car dealership.
How Do PR Outreach and Citations Fit Into the Auto Dealer Link Building Plan?
PR outreach can have two different meanings. The first being a simple press release, syndicating one piece of content across a couple hundred websites. This practice is used to boost Google map rankings, but does little to help with organic rankings, as it is an outdated tactic on that front.
Targeted PR Outreach for Car Dealerships
The other type of PR outreach is more about reaching out to a select group of publications and working to get mentions and links. For example, if you live in Nashville, TN you might reach out to the top 5 news sites and try to get a mention or even better, some form of featured coverage.
This is great for SEO, but it can also lead to direct referral traffic, making it a win-win tactic. However, due to the time consuming and detailed effort that goes into this type of PR, don’t be surprised to pay extra for this type of service. PR companies often charge 3 to 5 times more than link building agencies for this service.
Citations are a type of link building, but they don’t have much in common with the items discussed above. Citations are simply directories like Yelp that list your business name, address, and phone number. These may or may not include a link to your website, but that won’t make them less effective.
Citation building is done primarily to improve your Google maps ranking. This type of link is pretty inexpensive, so it does make a good starting point. You can expect to pay about $5 per citation built or you can use a service to push them out for you in exchange for a fixed monthly cost.
The best route is to manually build a few hundred and move on. This will keep the recurring cost down and give you budget to utilize elsewhere.
How Can You Determine a Budget and Strategy for Your Link Outreach Program?
The industry wide average to work with a reputable link building agency is about $5000 per month. There are so many factors that can move this number up or down though, so to get a good price estimate, a good link building agency will start with a questionnaire, followed by some research into your competition to arrive at a price.
The same is true for strategy. Link building is a competitive sport, meaning that what your competitors are doing could directly impact what you should be doing as well. As part of the initial cost estimate, a brief look should be given to your competition, so that you have a realistic idea of cost and timelines before getting started.
Once a link program is underway, the first few weeks should be spent doing even deeper research. Once that is done, the data collected should be what guides your strategy.
Should You Work with a Link Building Agency or an Automotive SEO Service?
An automotive SEO company is going to be a jack of all trades. Most provide website design, content, paid ads, review programs, and many other related services for car dealers. While the bundled package may sound more convenient, it comes at a cost.
In many large automotive SEO companies, most of the work is being performed by entry level staff, with a limited knowledge of SEO. In my firsthand encounters with such companies, it was clear that they could follow a set plan, but struggled to deviate from it and solve new problems.
A link building agency on the other hand specializes in links. Their company exists only to build high quality links. Their team has a narrow focus, allowing them to become far more proficient than their counterparts that have to learn a multitude of marketing tactics. Even so, some link building agencies are pretty bad.
The real key here is to speak with agencies and see how they interact with you. How are their reviews, do they seem to be exceptionally knowledgeable in the field? When outsourcing your link building, you need to ask questions and let the experts rise to the top.
At Stellar SEO, we are literally known for the quality of the links we build and we are experts in the field. Here is just one of the many third-party rankings that agree:
Getting Your Link Building Program Started & Measuring the Results
The right research will lead you to the right strategy. Strategy will dictate tactics and knowledge will dictate the quality of the finished product.
Going into your link building plan, you should already have an idea of where you are headed. This may be a fixed number of links you need to acquire to be competitive in your area. It could be ranking some specific landing pages on your website, or it could even be an increase in referral traffic.
The exact methods used to measure your results will vary based upon what KPIs are important to your dealership. Regardless of what, it is important to measure and track everything you can when it comes to marketing. This will allow you to save money where it is less effective and move those funds to channels and tactics that are producing a good ROI.
That being said, it is also very important to go into link building with a realistic expectation. Your competition, your current link profile, and your budget will all impact how long it takes to see results and just how big the results are. This is why the preliminary research mentioned above is such an important step. A great plan and a great backlink can lead to some impressive traffic gains!