SEO for Automotive Industry: Everything You Need to Know

min read
SEO for Automotive Industry: Everything You Need to Know

SEO for automotive industry marketing is a must if you want to improve sales and raise brand awareness for your automotive business. The industry is poised to become even more hyper-competitive. In fact, the automotive industry in North America is expected to grow at a compound rate of more than 7% over the next few years despite a drop-off in vehicle sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this blog, we’ll cover the nuts and bolts of SEO for automotive industry businesses, including the key elements of an SEO strategy and how solid automotive SEO practices backed by the right technology can elevate your brand, attract new customers, improve revenue growth, and enhance existing customer loyalty and satisfaction — and even help boost your dealership CSI score.

The Basics of Automotive SEO

If you’re new to SEO, or search engine optimisation, here’s a quick definition: It’s the practice of using an array of strategies, from keywords to backlinks, to help “optimise” your automotive industry websites, webpages, and even your social pages so they’ll rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Is it important? You bet. There’s little point in your car dealership or auto parts store investing heavily in a website unless you commit to practicing good SEO to attract automotive industry customers. SEO can help improve your rankings in search results from organic searches (i.e., unpaid search results). 

It’s a good thing when consumers find you via an organic search. If your pages appear high in their organic search results, they’re likely to consider your business or content as highly relevant to their search. Organic searches are searches with specific intent. They can lead to your auto dealership connecting with a car buyer highly motivated to purchase a hybrid vehicle you have in stock — or help your auto parts store connect with a truck owner searching for a specific brand of radial tires you carry.

But these organic connections online aren’t likely to happen if a solid SEO strategy isn’t at work in the background. Foundational activities for developing an effective automotive SEO strategy include:

  • Researching and using keywords that are relevant to your business, and will help drive traffic
  • Creating meaningful, useful, high-quality content on your webpages and keeping it fresh
  • Enhancing your website with links to relevant content on third-party websites
  • Measuring the results of your efforts regularly and adapting tactics to take advantage of relevant trends and changing consumer needs and interests

Making the Business Case for Investing in SEO 

If you’re having difficulty convincing your team that automotive SEO is worth devoting resources to, try underscoring the top benefits of this approach for your business:

  • Improving your search rankings (so more consumers searching with intent will find you) 
  • Increasing traffic to your website
  • Boosting conversions, like generating more high-quality leads
  • Growing sales — and revenue

SEO can also complement other marketing efforts, like paid search, as explained in the next section.

The power of paid media and SEO working together

Paid search tactics for dealerships — typically, campaigns that use either display or pay-per-click (PPC) ads — are a core component of many automotive industry digital marketing strategies because they deliver quick results. With SEO, there’s more work involved to increase the visibility of your website and its content in organic search results.

However, a well-executed automotive SEO strategy combined with a paid search strategy can result in your car dealership or auto parts business dominating results pages in relevant searches. Waiting to see the return on your SEO efforts takes time. Paid search, where you can buy keywords instantly and put them into action right away, helps fill in the gaps while you wait for your organic search rankings to rise. 

Another benefit of using paid media and SEO together is that you can quickly test keywords in paid search ads. If they perform well, you can apply them to your website content to attract more potential customers organically over time. And whether those customers find your business via paid or organic search results, they’ll ultimately encounter content that is relevant to their search — increasing the likelihood that they will do business with you.

Key Elements of an SEO Strategy for Automotive

How can you create an effective SEO strategy for your automotive business? The following elements are all must-dos and must-haves:

Keyword research

We’ve mentioned a few times in this post that keywords are important for SEO. Let’s look at two types of keywords you can consider in your research:

  • Short-tail keywords: One- or two-word keywords that apply to a broad topic are often referred to as short-tail keywords. Example: hybrid cars. Short-tail keywords tend to be more generic, have higher search volume, and can attract more website visitors (although not necessarily the kind of traffic you’re aiming for). And because they produce a lot of results, it can be challenging to use these keywords to earn a high ranking on SERPs.

  • Long-tail keywords: These keywords are typically more specific phrases using more than three words. Long-tail keywords result in lower search volume, less competition, and a greater chance of a searcher clicking through to your webpage. Example: electric cars with stick shift.

The automotive industry is highly competitive, so using long-tail SEO is a more appropriate strategy for businesses like car dealerships or auto parts stores. Online tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, Semrush, and QuestionDB can help you research long-tail keywords that your potential customers might use when conducting internet searches as part of their car-buying journey.    

A well-structured website

You’ve done all the hard work researching the keywords likely to drive traffic to your website. Now, your goal is to keep those visitors with intent on your site, so your marketing and sales teams can guide them further along the customer journey and ideally, convince them to make a transaction.

A well-designed, highly functional website will help greatly in those efforts. To confirm your website fits that bill, consider the following questions:

  • Does the website look appealing? Is the color scheme complementary and your company’s branding prominent?
  • Is the site easy to navigate? For example, is there a navigation bar at the top of the page that clearly shows visitors how to find inventory, contact information, and FAQs?
  • Is there too much text and too few high-quality graphics? Dense sections of text often turn website visitors off and result in them leaving a site. (Don’t be afraid to use white space!)
  • Is your site very static? Static sites can be boring and struggle to retain visitors. Incorporate video, or consider adding interactive elements, like a survey, to engage visitors.
  • Is your site optimised for viewing on smartphones or other mobile devices?

High-quality, unique content

Another way to attract visitors to your website and keep them coming back is to present them with standout content — interesting, informative, and relevant content that people want to read, watch, or otherwise look at. This content might include blogs written by your staff with tips on how to buy a car, vlogs (video blog) in which you demo vehicles, high-quality images of new vehicles in stock, or even a tool for calculating car payments.

Local SEO

While most car buyers today conduct much of their research online, once they’ve settled on a make and model, many will still seek out a nearby dealership where they can see the actual vehicle and perhaps take a test drive. For this reason, it’s important that a car dealership website have strong and consistent local SEO signals for Google and other search engines.

What constitutes local SEO? Basically, it describes anything that will help our website show up in hyper-local searches, like highlighting physical addresses on a landing page, contact pages, or on a location page, perhaps with a map and photo of the dealership. Also consider including localised content throughout your site, such as information on events, local weather, and traffic reports.

Local SEO can also be achieved by making sure your car dealership or auto parts store is present and correctly identified in third-party business listings and online directories such as Google Business Profile. Many of these listings are free, and they’ll appear on Google Maps and other map sites when a customer conducts a search such as “Toyota dealers near me.” 

Maintain good technical site health

Technical SEO takes place behind the scenes but it’s also part of on-page SEO that helps improve aspects of your website to help raise your search rankings. It’s all about making sure your automotive website is easier for search engines to crawl — or find on the web — and understand your content. 

Optimising your website’s technical health also helps ensure that your pages will load fast enough for Google and other search engines to recommend in searches. (Yes, Google prefers webpages that load quickly, and it will push slower sites down the search rankings.)

Measuring Success With Data

As always, it’s essential to measure SEO success so the digital marketing team can make appropriate adjustments to your strategy. Here’s a quick look at some tools to help you capture key metrics. 

Tools everyone should have:

  • Google Analytics provides free tools to track and analyse website traffic, so you can answer questions like, “How long are users staying on a page?” and “What is the bounce rate?” It can be integrated with Google Ads and is the most widely used website analytics tool in use today.

  • Google Search Console offers a suite of tools that can help you optimise content through search analytics, understand how Google reads your website pages, and identify and fix issues.

Important SEO metrics

The most important metrics to track to optimise SEO on your site are:

  • Sessions/Users: Google Analytics defines “users” as unique visitors to your website and issues a cookie with a unique client identifier to the user’s web browser. If that user returns to your website, the user is recognised by this ID and treated as a returning user, not a unique visitor. Users who reject cookies, who regularly clean their browser cache, or use different web browsers will be treated as “users” each time they visit the site. “Sessions” are timed analytics recorded when a user visits a page on your website. Recording a session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity by the user but restarts as a new session if the user returns. 
  • Bounce Rate: A visitor to your site “bounces” if they leave after viewing only a single page. A high bounce rate is bad if you want visitors to spend time navigating the site, such as to view your inventory.
  • Conversion Rate: Shown as a percentage, a conversion rate tracks whatever you choose to define as a conversion against the total number of ad interactions. For a car dealership, a conversion might be a customer signing up for a test drive, putting down a deposit, or completing a sale.
  • Domain Rating: Measured from 1-100, this rating predicts how likely a website or individual webpage might rank in SERPs. It’s a measure of the strength of a website or page’s backlinks.
  • Backlinks: These are links from one website or page to another website or page. Search engines view backlinks as indicators of a page or website’s popularity, so having more backlinks typically leads to a site or page ranking higher in organic search results.

Key Elements of a Local SEO Strategy for Automotive

In addition to creating and optimising your Google Business profile, and making sure your business is accurately identified in business directories and includes a location page (all outlined above), you can also further optimise your localised SEO strategy in the following ways:

Ask for reviews

Customer reviews are one of the most powerful factors determining your dealership website’s search ranking. According to a ReviewTrackers survey, 67.1% of consumers are influenced by reviews when considering a local auto repair service. (However, only 40% of consumers consider giving a review, so it’s important to ask!)

Use schema markup

Created in collaboration between the major search engines and available from, Schema Markup is a tool which, when added to your webpages, structures data and standardises HTML tags so that search engines clearly understand what your content is saying. Schema helps search engine crawlers be more effective in delivering information to the SERP in the form of “rich results” or snippets that go beyond just the title and meta description. Providing more information via the schema may lead to better rankings on SERPs — and more clicks. 

Track phone calls driven by organic visits and optimise to drive more conversions

If you’re tracking how SEO is producing online conversions using Google Analytics or another tool, that’s great. But what about phone calls? Automotive marketing statistics show that while 95% of consumers do at least some of their car buying research online, 61% of new and used car buyers prefer to speak to a human after completing their search and will call the dealership.

It’s vital that dealerships track and understand how many inbound phone calls their organic search efforts are driving, the same way they track online conversions. Conversation intelligence software like Invoca’s automotive solution helps marketers gain that level of visibility. This way, you can understand which optimisation tactics are driving the most calls from organic search and double down on those strategies. You can also prove your conversions to your leadership team to get more buy-in from the organisation for search engine optimisation projects!

You can also use conversation intelligence to learn what callers are frequently talking about in phone conversations. Invoca allows you to globally search phone call transcriptions to easily locate trends — or you can let unstructured AI automatically identify the patterns for you! This can give your team a whole new batch of SEO keywords to target!

Sample searchable phone call transcription from Invoca

On-Page SEO Elements You Can Optimise Right Now

Don’t hesitate to optimise SEO on your dealership website to give your sales team the chance to generate more automotive leads and drive sales. Here are four elements you can optimise today:


Keep URLs for your webpages short and sweet. Include a relevant keyword but don’t overdo it — and be consistent in how you name URLs. (For helpful tips, see this post.)

Title tags (meta titles) and meta descriptions

A title tag is a piece of HTML code that specifies a webpage’s title. A meta description is an HTML tag summarising a webpage’s content. Be specific and write a unique and descriptive tag and meta description for each page of your website. (Less is more here, too. Try to keep title tags under 60 characters, and meta descriptions to 150-160 characters.) 


Headings or header tags provide structure for a webpage by breaking up blocks of text and introducing the content beneath them. You can optimise for SEO by including relevant keywords.

Internal linking

Links from one page of your website to another are often overlooked when considering SEO, but they can attract search engine crawlers and boost your site’s search results rankings. They’re also very easy to create and optimise. For detailed instructions on optimising internal links, check out this post.

Additional Reading

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you improve your automotive marketing strategy? Check out these resources:

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