Digital marketing columnist
As a dealer, you’ve likely realized the importance of having a strong online presence in order to remain competitive.
Increasing brand awareness, acquiring new customers and closing more sales are all benefits that come with effective digital marketing. In particular, landing your dealership high in the search engine results pages (SERP) can significantly improve brand visibility, increase website traffic, and lead to more prospective car buyers looking at what you have to offer. When this is supplemented with targeted and effective pay-per-click campaigns, the gains can be huge.
Improving how you rank on search engines, as well as building great pay-per-click campaigns, begins with one often overlooked strategy: keyword research. It’s likely you’ve heard about keyword research before, but the importance of conducting it – and doing so properly – cannot be stressed enough.
Whether you are building up your website to improve SEO, are considering running a pay-per-click advertising campaign (or a combination of both), it is essential you start with keyword research which will help you.
Determine the search volume, competition, and seasonality of particular search terms, which can be useful when choosing which keywords to target for your ad campaigns.
Keywords are important both for helping your website rank in SERP, but also for paid advertising options as well. Consequently, it’s prudent to treat keyword research as a fundamental part of the entire marketing process. Here are a number of tips to help you get started with your keyword research.
Start With Your Customer
Look at your existing customer base. What are their main challenges, objections and pain points? When you’ve sold a vehicle in the past, what kind of questions were you asked?
Understanding your customer and the kind of information they need in the buying process will help inform your keyword research so you generate a more robust list.
Create a Google adwords account. While it’s essentially a paid advertising platform, creating an account is free and gives you access to the keyword planning tool. You can use this tool separately from a paid campaign free of charge or as part of setting up a paid campaign.
For the former, click tools on the main navigation, then click keyword planner. Next, select search for new keyword and ad group ideas and enter your product or service.
Make sure you set the right geographical location. The screen that appears after you search will present you with two tabs: ad group ideas and keyword ideas. Click on the latter and you will automatically have a list of suggested keywords.
Where To Focus
Broad, higher-volume keywords relevant to your business are definitely important, but they will have more competition, prove more difficult to rank for, and will be more expensive to target in a pay-per-click campaign.
As such, you should also focus on aiming for longer-tail, less competitive keywords and phrases with at least two or three words in them. These typically are more specific, easier to rank for and less expensive to target in campaigns.
Often, long-tail queries are made by prospective buyers who are further along in the buying process meaning that if you target them you can connect with a more sales-ready audience.
Try inverting the list generated in the Google keyword planner tool by clicking the competition tab, then look at low and medium competition keywords.
You can also try Ubersuggest for a list of suggestions for longer-tail queries relevant to the topic or category you have entered.
Product, Category and Location Research
Research suggested terms to ensure that you target specific products, for example the Chrysler 300, categories such as SUV, as well as locations, as for example Calgary.
You can improve your chances of exposing your dealership to potential customers who are searching for specific makes and models of vehicle and are geographically close to your location.
Applying Your Keyword Research – Organic
Once you’ve compiled a list of keywords that are relevant to your industry and align with what your prospective customers are searching for, start putting the keyword into action.
Typically, for broader keywords with higher search volumes, you will want to build pages on your website that are optimized to target these keywords.
For lower volume, long-tail keywords, you can focus on targeting via blog posts or lower level pages on your website, sub-pages rather than main navigation pages
Since you’ve also researched location, product and category keywords, you can build out corresponding pages that are optimized for these terms as well.
Applying Your Keyword Research – Paid
Conducting research in the Google keyword planner allows you not only to compile a list of keywords you could potentially target in pay-per-click ads, but it also provides you with an indication of what it will cost.
You will notice that within the planner, there is a column titled suggested bid. This is an estimation of what it may cost you to target this keyword based on the costs-per-click that other advertisers are paying.
There are other tools that can help you drill down even further. The SEP PPC statistic tool can help you determine the cost-per-click of popular keywords in your industry on a regional, provincial and national scale. This can give you a solid indication of which keywords you can more effectively target for location-based campaigns.
Once you’ve determined which keywords are best suited to put budget behind, then you can focus on creating pay-per-click campaigns to test, optimize and improve.
In your Google AdWords account that you’ve created, choose the campaigns tab and follow the steps to set up your campaign, using the keywords you have selected.
Keyword research is a fundamental part of any digital marketing effort. Whether you want to optimize your website for search engines, build paid ad campaigns, or a combination of both, you need to conduct comprehensive keyword research based on how people are searching to find the products and services you offer. Only then can you take effective, actionable steps towards improving your online presence.
Jeff Quipp is the founder and CEO of Search Engine People Inc. SEP has been on the PROFIT 100 ranking of Canada's Fastest Growing Companies for the past five consecutive years and named one of PROFIT Magazine’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies in the Greater Toronto Area. You can follow him on Twitter and connect with him on Google+.