Chrome and Code – Selling Cars Online
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Rankings vs Leads and Conversions for Car Dealerships

Not to rail on ranking reports, but when it comes to bringing in business there’s more to building a website with SEO than just ranking for keywords.  If you start out with the goal of ranking on a specific keyword, say “custom truck accessories,” that’s fine and dandy – but the question you need to ask yourself is how your web traffic will transform into leads and conversions.  When ranking reports become your only evaluation for success, you can lose sight of your real goal of getting people to walk into your dealership and buy a car.

There are a number of factors that can skew ranking reports:

Google Account Login

  • Personalized results (results based on things like user behavior)
  • If you are signed into your Google account at the time of search
  • Your IP address (Which location you are searching from)
  • Local results, video and images
  • All the possible variations on keywords
  • If you have visited a certain website in the past

Ranking reports ignore searches based on personalized results and don’t take into account how previous user behavior can change the results for a search based on websites. They also miss results for searches that include local results and other media types like images and videos that can still bring users to your website.

With fluctuating ranking results and constantly evolving search engines, it’s nearly impossible to have a consistent metric to report on. It’s unfortunate that many agencies use ranking reports as the primary metric to define their success because this leaves the doors open for unethical and short-term strategies to improve ranking results while leaving long-term, devastating consequences for a website.

A better strategy is to examine what keywords are bringing you traffic and if they are converting to leads. These can give you a deeper insight into how people are actually reaching your website, and can help you change your strategies to capitalize on it. Even if you’re not successful in ranking for your target keywords because they are highly competitive, you can still focus on what you already do well and build on it. This gives you the opportunity to change your strategy to target how people are actually finding your website.

You can’t rank for everything. Sometimes people get greedy and try to rank for every search term that’s even somewhat related to their business. It’s more effective to research the top 10 – 20 keywords you want to rank for and focus on those. It’s better to be at the top on 10-20 keywords rather than just rank “OK” on everything. And if you change your SEO tactics in attempt to rank on everything, you can lose the top coveted spots that you already rank well on. Once you have chosen your top keywords, it’s time to focus on conversion rate optimization.

Conversion rate optimization

The bottom line is converting your web visitors to customers, and this is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in. Ultimately, the way you should be judging the success of your website is bottom-line revenue, and increasing your conversion rate by even a few percent can have dramatic benefits in dollars and sales.

One of the top methods of CRO is improving overall website design and ensuring you have relevant content that effectively delivers your business proposition up-front. Taking advantage of long tail key phrases based on what you learn from Google Analytics traffic reports is also an essential method of bringing in paying customers. Someone searching the phrase “Buy used 2003 Nissan Sentra Alberta” practically has their wallet out, while someone searching for “used cars” is likely just browsing the market. And keep in mind that the high-competition keywords “used cars” would rarely be searched on their own, and in most cases will be part of another long-tail search phrase.

top tips

  • Set up goals for each action you want your users to perform on your website. Some examples are:
  • View Contact Us page
  • Fill out Contact Us form
  • Sign up for newsletter
  • Sign up for RSS Feed of blog post
  • Other tips include:
  • Have relevant ad copy.
  • Ensure the main heading (H1) closely resembles your chosen key phrase. Searchers need to find the info they initially searched for on the page they land on.
  • Use relevant, quick-loading images and captions.
  • Prioritize key features and benefits in the body content.
  • Have visible calls to action & clean design with lots of white space.
  • Conversion rates often increase when calls-to-action are placed on the right sidebar.
  • Keep your message on-point and consistent; avoid off-topic content and distracting images.
  • Include relevant and reputable testimonials.
  • Phone-track those who call you from your website.
  • Getting your dealer receptionist to ask customers who come into the dealership where they heard about you.
  • Keeping a spreadsheet & analyzing the data on a monthly basis.

The next time you look at a ranking report, ask yourself “how does this impact my conversion rate?” If you’re not ranking for your desired keyword but still have more customers visiting and buying your products due to a successful web solution, don’t worry about it! There is much that can be learned from traffic trends and natural search results. If you keep an open mind, you will find ways to improve your online business that you never thought possible.

Michael Fisher & Samantha Goettel

Written by Michael Fisher

Digital Content Strategist

With a passion for everything automotive and an interest in online media & blogging, Michael Fisher has applied his love for the written word with a rewarding job researching and writing about cars. When he isn't fixing punctuation or tinkering with an obstinate sentence, Michael enjoys photography, art and backyard mechanics.

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