Perhaps your dealership has received an email that begins something like this:Currently, your dealership has a LOW SEO score based on the same parameters that Google uses to rank your dealership’s search listing. Our preliminary SEO scan has identified well over 5,000 crawl errors on your website. Our full-scope level analysis may reveal even more.
What is this?
This is a sales pitch from a company that provides website SEO auditing as a tool to scare you into utilizing their services. Using alarming language and esoteric search engine terminology, these third-party SEO graders are trying to win your dealership’s business by scoring very specific elements of your website without the necessary context of your goals, keyword rankings, traffic, conversions, etc., that’s needed to truly understand how your site is performing. Companies like MOZ, Pushfire, and Motofuze generate templated reports using web crawling technology, which later informs their strategy to remove errors and increase your website’s score within their grader.
If you feel that your dealership’s digital presence could benefit from this kind of service – and your business can afford the extra expense – go ahead and sign up. You should understand, however, that these SEO services should be used cautiously, only accompanying a professional and automotive-dedicated search engine marketing strategy. This is because typical SEO auditing companies rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to SEO that’s more focused on checking boxes (e.g. number of characters in your page titles) than measuring and impacting the metrics that matter through thoughtful and strategic optimization.
Accordingly, here are the three most important things a dealer should know about SEO audits:
- SEO audits aren’t dealer-focused, and don’t account for the factors that are truly relevant to your sales – SEO audits are third-party services that provide an outside perspective of your website. They don’t operate within the specific context of automotive retail, and do not address the most important ranking factors of dealership websites, including the quality of both your content and backlinks.
- SEO audits can’t tell how your site is actually performing – SEO audits often use alarming terminology to get your attention, but because they’re mechanical and automated they have no idea how your site is actually performing.
- SEO audits cannot replace an automotive-specific SEO strategy – Because SEO audits are, by definition, non-strategic, it’s essential to work with a partner who is. Credible automotive SEO partners will calibrate your site for your specific strategy, and capture auto-specific key performance indicators: leads, traffic, and relevant keyword rankings. These are the metrics that actually help you sell cars.
SEO is critical to any successful digital strategy, so dealers are wise to consider all the resources at their disposal when evaluating their SEO program. If an SEO audit helps you take a closer look at your SEO performance, that can only be a good thing. But, if they are to actually help advance your strategy, and help you sell cars, SEO audits must be considered in the right context and complemented by a strategic SEO program that only an experienced, automotive-specific partner can provide.
Daniel Durick is the Search Operations Manager at Dealer.com