We talk to dealers all the time who call us wondering why their site isn’t showing up higher in Google. Most people assume that if they have a website, that website will just show up in search results – but they don’t think about how other dealers are fighting for the same spots on page one. To help demonstrate why great content and proper SEO are now absolutely necessary, we share some quick back-of-the-napkin math to help illustrate how competitive the automotive niche is. I wrote an article in Search Engine Land recently that covers the same process, and I wanted to share it here in this week’s video.
Welcome to another Tuesday Tip Video Clip. Like Sam Jackson said in Jurassic Park: “hold on to your butts” – ‘cause this week’s video is going to freak some of you out, and we’ll be doing some math.
Are you holding on? Because here’s the truth: you’re not going to be successful with just having a website. You’re going to have to put in more time and effort than you used to. It’s simply a fact of today’s market.
Back in the day, when dealers were just starting to get websites, you’d be fine with just having a website. Customers still found you in the phone book, or print ads, or because they drove by… These days customers are going to find you online before they call you or visit your dealership.
Notice – I just said they’d “find” you online. If you’re not on the first or sometimes second page of Google searches, you’re not going to get much traffic – if any at all. We talk to dealers all the time who wonder why they don’t show up in searches in their local area, and they just don’t understand how Google really works.
You won’t just show up in Google because you have a website. You’ve got to optimize that site, and you’ve got to optimize your off-site signals too. Besides making sure you’ve got content optimized for your local area, you’ve got to have links pointed to your site, and you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got all the citations that you should have. Citations are mentions of your dealership’s name, address, and phone number on other websites.
If you’re in a rural area, you’re probably OK, since there’s not really much competition. But let’s look at a dealer who’s in a suburb of a bigger metro area. Here’s where the math I warned you about comes in.
Let’s say that there are 20 used car dealers in your city and 2 franchise dealers. 22 total car dealers fighting for the page one spots in Google searches. Let’s also assume that for your city, Google shows the “map pack” of 7 local results with address, phone numbers, reviews, and map pins. That would give you a total of 17 spots on page one of Google, but after the recent Pigeon update, at least 3 or 4 of the organic results will go to large directory sites. That gives us 13 possible slots for 22 dealers – so 9 guys are going to get bumped to page 2 results.
But – we’re talking about a metro area, and you’d really rather show up in that metro area and get more traffic. Let’s say that there are 8 smaller suburb cities in your metro area. So now we’re talking 8 times 22, which is 176 car dealers fighting for page one. But wait – there are more dealers actually located in the main city, and since it’s a big city, there will be a lot more dealers. For the sake of the example, we’ll lowball the number and say that there are 3 times as many dealers in town. So now, we’re talking 11 times 22, which is 242 dealerships in the metro area fighting for the 17 spots available on page one of Google results.
The recent Pigeon update reduced the search radius for local searches, so it’s nearly impossible to show up for searches in a city unless you’re actually in that city. So if you’re in a suburb, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll show up for searches in the main city. But even if you could, it would be flat out impossible to beat the other 225 dealers that you’d need to beat to show up on page one if you aren’t doing any SEO.
These were just basic numbers – if you’re in a bigger metro area, it’s likely that there are a lot more than 240 dealership in your area. Even if you’re in a smaller metro and you’re only fighting against 100 dealers, you still have to beat out 82 other dealerships to be on page one.
Google is really just a very advanced and complicated mathematical formula that compares hundreds of factors to determine which sites are more relevant. Google expects that certain factors will be true for businesses in a local area, so if you’re not doing SEO, you’re not going to send the best signals to Google – and you’re not going to beat your competitors and show up on page one.
Virtual high five – you just learned something new. As always, if you have any questions or comments, leave them down below. Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you again next week.