Car dealers know that the level of competition is really heating up online. Without going above and beyond what your competition is doing, you’ll blend in with the crowd. As marketers, we have to look at a lot of data to determine where our client stands against the competition, and what it will take to rise above. It is crucial, then, to make sure that the tools we use are efficient in gathering and reporting that data. I wanted to put together a list of five tools that really help automotive websites with SEO. Hope you enjoy!
This is a “duh” at this point, but that means I have to include it in this list, right? Google Analytics, while it gives me its fair share of gripes, is an essential tool to help measure the effectiveness of what we do for clients. All of the data Analytics provides is worthless if we don’t use it in an efficient manner. We need to make sure that we are keeping an eye on metrics that give us the most insight into the effectiveness of our campaigns.
One of the obvious metrics that we want to keep an eye on is organic traffic. This is another “duh” moment because obviously if we are continually losing organic traffic, that is most likely an indicator of a problem. Another important tool within Google Analytics is the “Goals” section of reporting. We want to make sure that goals are set up correctly to measure leads to the client. We also don’t want to set up trashy goals, like counting a visit to the client’s Maps and Directions page as a lead or conversion.
Form submissions are usually a really solid place to start when setting up goals in GA. Ultimately, if we have a campaign that is trying to drive organic website visitors to schedule a service for their vehicle, we know our campaign is succeeding when more people hit the “thank you” page for that online form.
One more thing to keep an eye on using Google Analytics is, of course, mobile data. Because of the way phone browsers pass referrer data, GA data can be somewhat sketchy when it comes to reporting mobile numbers, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Make sure that mobile visits from users are landing on the pages you want them to – and just as important, make sure they are landing on the pages THEY want to. If a mobile user searches for something, lands on your website, isn’t happy or doesn’t find what they are looking for, they will bounce right back to the search engine results page.
Xenu’s Link Sleuth
This gem of a tool is basically your free own web crawler. You can enter your website’s URL and the tool takes off from there, discovering pages as they are linked on your site. The tool will check for redirects and broken links, and let you gain some insight into the internal structure of your website.
The advantage of this tool is obvious since it will tell you where broken links are. Eliminating broken links, both internal and external, will both help your users and help Google’s crawler navigate your site.
Google Webmaster Tools
Yet another free tool from Google is their Webmaster Tools portal. There are so many applications for the information you can glean here. GWT is a good way to check the pulse of your website’s SEO efforts. One of the benefits of Google Webmaster Tools is that you can see if Google is having trouble with your site. The system will let you know in a message if it detects common problems like crawl errors, malware, etc.
Another feature of GWT is that it will let you keep tabs on what search queries your website is ranking for, and even some click through rate data. This is a good way to make sure that your site is ranking for search terms you want it to rank for. Additionally, you can make sure that people are clicking through to your site. If you have a lot of impressions, but the clicks are low, you may want to try changing the meta description and/or page title to entice more users to click.
Bonus: Bing also has its own version of Webmaster Tools, and it is handy too! Open Site Explorer (moz.com/researchtools/ose/)
This is a really helpful tool as a free service, but extremely powerful if you subscribe to a Moz Pro membership (moz.com/pro). As a free user, you can look at the “Domain Authority” and “Page Authority” to get a feel for how much Google may trust your site. As you know, if Google trusts your site, and regard your site as an authority on a given topic, you’re more likely to rank higher for search terms relevant to that topic.
The other benefit of this tool is using it to see how many links you have to your site, and if they are malicious. For example, sometimes competitors will purchase spammy links to your site in order to make you look suspicious from a search engine’s perspective. Again, if a search engine doesn’t trust your site, you’re not likely to rank well in search results.
Yet another free tool from our overlords at Google! This is a really fun and useful tool that will show you search trends for given keywords over a period of time. You can filter the data by locations – down to the city. This can help you get specific, locally relevant data about what people are searching for in your market.
The uses here really span the spectrum. From keyword research to predicting future trends and knowing when people search for a product or service the most, this tool is so powerful for SEOs in any business vertical.
Written by John Morgan