Want to increase your dealership’s online presence, but think link building is too scary or complicated? You might reconsider after you learn a few things you can do offline to earn local links.
Building local links for car dealerships requires a different mindset than most other businesses, but that’s a good thing. Car dealers have a unique knowledge set that can be useful to multiple link sources. Also, many car dealers are already involved with local groups, sporting events, car meetups, etc…
I’ve outlined a few basic link building tactics that any local business owner can use to earn local links.
Identify Link Opportunities
First and foremost, don’t fly blind if you can help it. If you’re willing to spend a few dollars, there are some excellent backlink tools you can use to identify which sites are linking to you, your competitors, and other local businesses. I lean towards Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs for checking and exporting links, but there are plenty of great tools out there.
Go to Open Site Explorer and export a .CSV of the backlinks for your competitors or similar local businesses. Feel free to use whatever method you prefer for sorting the links, but here’s a quick way:
Open up an Excel workbook; dump all of your links into one sheet – and your competitors’ links into separate sheets on the same workbook. If you’re a small or mid-sized dealer, you probably don’t have a ton of links to comb through. If you have a ton of links, just add Conditional Formatting to show the unique values between the data on sheets you’re comparing.
Now that you have a list of links, use these exports to identify places where your competitors are getting links that you aren’t. Obviously, getting links from all of your competitors’ linking sites isn’t realistic, but there might be some great opportunities you’ve been missing.
I Found Link Opportunities; Now What?
After analyzing your competitors’ links, you probably found a few link opportunities, so now’s the time to come up with an effective link acquisition game plan. If the links you’re missing are Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau links, contact those organizations directly to find out the next steps for getting your business listed. The BBB charges annually and your site will have to be reviewed, but it is a fairly straightforward process.
For links that aren’t related to CoC or BBB, identify how your local business can provide something beneficial to the organization you want a link from without directly paying for a link. You might have to get creative, but there’s numerous ways for car dealers to impact their local community, gain some supporters, and grab a link at the same time.
Adjust these methods to the links you find in your .CSV exports, but here’s a few examples of tactics dealers can use to grab links from local clubs, guilds, or even high-authority national sites:
Get Involved in a Local Meetup
Almost every city has a group of classic car collectors, and it narrows down by vehicle type (Mustangs, Corvettes, etc…). These communities usually meet up once or twice per month to show off their rides and enjoy some coffee and donuts. Most of them have local websites, too.
You should get involved, but a full-blown sponsorship isn’t what you want to do with these groups. Show up and try to learn more about their car community and see what your dealership can do to truly help the group. Once you identify what it is they need, provide it for them without the expectation of a link. What you provide could be as simple as a new spot to meet up when their current lot expires or a large donation of shammies. It could be anything, but the key is to provide legit value without just paying for the link in the form of a recurring sponsorship. Help them out and they’ll probably link to your site.
Throw a Random Profession Appreciation Day
Everyone knows about appreciation days for teachers and administrative professionals, but your car dealership can provide appreciation days for professions that might go overlooked and have a web presence. You don’t have to treat this like a giant event; it can be something simple like refreshments or a drive-in movie night that shows a new superhero film.
The key here is to speak to professions who could respond well and try to gain some support from their online and offline community (as small as that may be). It might not translate into insane sales, but a gesture that identifies you as appreciative of engineers, web developers, or programmers could get you a few links; and members of those groups might remember your dealership the next time they go to buy a car.
Provide or Organize Relief
Quick note: This section is not about ambulance chasing, it’s about helping your community without the expectation of a link for each instance of providing help.
When disaster hits, providing relief is an impactful way to help the affected community. In one of my favorite stories, Bob Tomes Ford in McKinney, TX organized a large can drive following a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma – and not only got a ton of local links from Dallas to Moore, they also got a few links from major national sites like thechive.com
Organizing relief was a win for the car dealership and the affected community of Moore. The key here is to help people in need – and the links will come. Don’t expect them every time, but this is a great way to impact a community and grab some juicy links with offline efforts.