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Automotive SEO Checklist: Back to Basics

With recent changes to the Google formula and other search engines quietly adopting similar habits, it’s a good time to run an Automotive SEO Inspection Checklist on your own internet marketing procedures at your dealership. If you’re hitting all of these points, you’ll be able to set aside worries your team is doing at least the most basic of search engine optimization work.

Where to Start – Revisit the Automotive SEO Basics

1. Research & Direction

Not knowing what your target audience is searching for, and the keyword phrases that are most typed into a search, can lead you down the wrong road.

The question to ask: What are our major and minor keyword targets?

Use free tools like Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Google Insights to determine what people are searched for, and if it is worth your team’s time and effort to target such a keyword. Using the keyword tool, test any keyword phrase you can think of, its free information that will shape your goals.

2. Benchmark Your Starting Point

Comparing month to month traffic is not always the best indicator of a successful SEO campaign. Seasonality affects many dealerships and unfortunately in this case, numbers can lie.

The question to ask: How are we measuring our success?

For the most part, traffic increases should occur at a gradual pace a few weeks and months into the start of an SEO campaign provided the number of people searching for any given keyword you show up for doesn’t drop off. Benchmark the number of unique visitors to a website during the month. If possible compare it to year over year statistics, not just month to month.

3. Analyze Past Performance & Spend

Know the amount of time, money and energy your company’s previous attempts have spent on Pay Per Click (PPC) in order to evaluate your future performance in SEO. Don’t just throw more money in the budget without making educated changes, find out where your PPC spend went before and understand what the results were.

The question to ask: What is our conversion rate on our Pay Per Click campaign for our major keywords?

Find the words that are converting best, or you are paying the most for, and try to show up for those keywords organically. Conversion rate is a goal for any campaign, but why am I talking about PPC when this is an SEO checklist? The importance is their relationship to one another by looking at your Internet Marketing campaigns as a blended function. If you cannot achieve a goal with organic search results, one may have to rely on PPC. Once you are receiving a sufficient amount of traffic from multiple listings in page one’s organic SEO listings, then you could start testing your PPC budget, and by testing, I mean reducing. Gradually. Gauge the effect it has on your numbers and find the right blend of SEO and PPC.

4. Enhancing Community Relationships for Links

If you’re part of the community that surrounds the dealership, you know which organizations your company sponsors or donates it’s time to. Ask for a link back to the dealership, it’s a valuable ranking factor!

The question to ask: How many links do we have pointing back to the dealership?

Look to increase this number as time goes on. Find new resources in both your local and regional community. If you’re donating time and resources to a local charity, they usually do not have an issue with listing you as a sponsor of their events, and linking back to your website. Make sure these links are of good quality, not just “Bob’s Superstore” but a description of the dealership, with the important keywords being the clickable text like “Chicago used car dealer”. Other resources include local bloggers on a variety of topics, little leagues, question and answer forums, religious communities and local car enthusiast sites.

5. Update your Title & Description Tags with Google Rules in Mind

Don’t just blindly start hacking apart the content, page titles and descriptions on your website, approach them from an educated analysis, taking into account the target keywords and how much room you can fill.

The question to ask: What does a “site:” search on our website say about us as a company?

Go to Google and type in “” and see what it knows about your site. Your title tags and description tags are what populate the actual search results when your website shows up in a search. Is there a good call to action to click thru to your website? They’re also an important ranking factor, and without the right words in a Title Tag, you might as well not be listed in the results at all. Use Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to help you with their standards.

I hope this checklist is helpful to those looking to be successful in internet marketing, and keep in mind, the items above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a complete immersion in digital marketing for automotive seo. You’ll want to look at SEO, PPC, IRM, Mobile & Social Media, to name a few of the major topics that make up your entire internet marketing strategy.

About the Author:
is a fanatic of Search Engine Optimization techniques, having spent the last 12 years specializing in internet marketing and website development. When he’s not fixing meta tags and training dealerships on better SEO practices, he’s doing research and development on the latest Google releases and updates from their webmasters blog and testing white-hat strategies. Matthew is the Senior SEO Strategist at PCG Digital Marketing in New Jersey and loves answering your challenging questions, you can contact him form more information at or 732-450-8200 x3.