Dealerships are facing an uphill battle in the fight to reclaim search rankings from third-party listings, as well as the attempt to win customers through social media. For both automotive SEO and social media marketing, however, content is the single most important factor for overall success.
You can optimize your dealership’s site to compete for certain keywords, but that’s only going to get you so far with Google. In order to truly impact rankings, you need to acquire links to your site. The absolute best way to do that is to produce content worth linking to in the first place. That is the essence of content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the art of creating high-quality content for the purpose of building awareness about a product, service, brand, or company. This is typically accomplished without employing sales tactics or openly pushing an agenda, unlike other forms of advertisement.
The idea is to create content that your target audience will find valuable–whether it be entertaining, informative, or both at the same time. This content wants to be shared. It’s so good that every person that sees it wants everyone they know to see it.
How content marketing works for car dealers
Step 1. Create great content.
Step 2. Share/promote content.
Step 3. Users enjoy, share, and link to your content.
Step 4. Google accounts for the activity around your content and increases your rankings.
Step 5. Local car buyers are better able to find your site to research vehicles and submit leads.
Is your content worth linking to?
Imagine you’re looking for information on a car your dealership happens to sell. Is your site providing that information or is another site doing a better job? Your site needs to be the resource that goes above and beyond what’s expected and provides real answers that are presented in an easily-digestible, entertaining fashion.
How Do Dealerships Create Great Content?
- Understand your customer — What gets the most views on your site right now? What questions are customers asking when they visit your dealership? What are your most popular vehicles? Are customers more interested in new or used cars? Do you get a lot of bad credit customers? The more you understand your customers, the better you can tailor content for the keywords you’re looking to target.
- Discover what works — As a dealership, you’d probably look to other dealerships to see what works and what doesn’t in terms of content. But your average dealership is not creating original content as part of their SEO strategy. Instead, look to automotive-related publications for insight into what people want to read and view online.
- Experiment with different content — In order to get an idea of what people will share or link to from your dealership’s site, create at least three different types of content. One might be a vehicle comparison of one of your popular models vs. a competitor, another might be an infographic about the evolution of a particular model, and another may be a list of tips for new car owners. Make sure each piece of content has the same chance for success, but see which one comes out on top and follow the feedback from users to tailor your next batch.
Basic Content Promotion
After the creative process is complete and your content is live, how do you go about promoting it so users can discover it?
Utilize social media sites, along with the amplifying powers of paid promotion, to target users based upon interest. The ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your content to increase social signals through shares, as well as links from other sites.
You start this process by using Facebook’s Promoted Posts and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets to target local users. Facebook has a sophisticated ads platform that allows you to target users by every parameter associated with a Facebook profile, making it a great place to start.
Twitter’s Promoted Tweets platform is new to most businesses, but a great start in going beyond local users. The reason Twitter is important in that regard is site publishers, writers, and editors tend to be active on the site, looking for news and content to share. Targeting an audience with an interest in cars or the automotive industry is a great strategy for building links.
Advanced Content Promotion
If your dealership wants to take its content marketing to the next level, give Reddit and StumbleUpon a try. These two sites require content that is both high quality and targeted. This means you need to understand what the users on these sites are after before you simply drop in to promote your existing content. Because both sites’ users will bounce faster than any other type of user on the web if they’re not interested.
Content Marketing on Reddit
Reddit users are very particular about the types of advertising that appears on the site. This social news site is made up of mostly young males who are very passionate about the community. If your ads are not highly-targeted and entertaining, it’s not likely to perform and may even receive negative attention or none at all since Reddit does not guarantee views. However, Reddit users love to see advertisers who understand that if you’re going to advertise, you might as well add value to the end user as well.
To accomplish this, the content you market toward Reddit users must be created with the community in mind. Take a look at the top-ranked content on subreddits (niche communities within Reddit) like Cars, CarTalk, and Autos for examples of what Reddit’s car-loving members wants to see.
The infographic idea I previously mentioned–that details the evolution of a particular model–is a timeless idea that would work well if the ad copy was written in a unique, fun fashion.
Paid Discovery on StumbleUpon
Unlike Reddit, StumbleUpon actually guarantees the views you pay for with its advertising platform Paid Discovery. The service also puts your content on an even playing field with user-submitted content and allows it to receive additional free views if it is shared by StumbleUpon users.
In fact, if you create content that users really respond to, you could receive just as much traffic from user shares as you did from Paid Discovery. This incentivizes businesses to create exceptional content for the StumbleUpon community.
Like Reddit, though, StumbleUpon’s users expect high-quality content and will skip over pages that do not immediately stand out from the pack. There’s no room for error or half-completed work when it comes to social media success.
When your ultimate content marketing goal is to boost SEO efforts, it takes a few months to see the fruits of your labor. In the meantime, the easiest way to measure success before you see changes in your search rankings is overall traffic to your content, as well as social shares. No matter what you’re paying for, if your audience is responding to the content, you should see a good jump in traffic.
Content marketing is not a race, and relies solely on the effort you and your team put into the end product. The best approach is to always focus on making your target audience happy. Results will follow from there.