The Ultimate Guide to Automotive Organic Search Marketing and SEO

How to optimize and win with this free and high-converting marketing channel

How does a Search Engine Work

- and how to make it work for you

Think of a search engine as a collection of Robots, commonly called Spiders. They attempt to index and catalog different web pages on the internet by following links between them.

The search engine then uses algorithms to assign relevance and importance for different pages, matched to keywords that search engine users might enter.

Remember: Search engines like Google, Bing, and others are not thinking about you, your dealership, or automotive dealers at all. They are trying to deliver the best results to people searching on their platform. They know that if they deliver good results then people will come back and use their search engine again. This is what they ultimately care about!

Search Relevance for Dealerships = Keywords 

  • You get this with content that has keywords in it that match popular search terms

Search Importance for Dealerships = Popularity & Authority

  • You get this with reputable links from third parties - Backlinks
  • Social Indicators - Shares, mentions, and links from social media sources
  • Page Rank - Popular pages (high traffic) for certain keywords and overall popularity of your domain

How do people use search engines to find automotive dealerships

Since search engines care only about giving people good search results, lets look at how people search on the internet, as it relates to automotive dealerships 

1. Do - Action queries


ford dealership near me
toyota dealership CITYNAME
bmw service center open now

These are people using a search engine to connect them with a place in the physical world. They are looking for businesses to address a need. Most of your benefit for these types of queries can come from having an up to date Google Business Profile . Making sure that you are listed with the correct name, address, and phone number is absolutely critical. Beyond a correct business profile, having on site ranking factors optimized will help with these searches (more on that in a minute).

Keep this in mind

Your entire goal in organic search is to make it easy for search engines to answer questions for people entering keywords related to automotive dealerships

2. Know - Searching for Information


suv with third row seats
safest cars for 2021
f150 towing capacity

These are people using a search engine to help them learn about a particular topic. Often times, in the automotive digital space, these search results are dominated by Tier 1, and national news and information websites. However having quality content around these types of searches can increase your overall authority for other terms.

Having informative and well designed product listing pages, or vehicle detail pages, can go a long way towards ranking for some of these terms.

3. Go - Searching for a specific destination


acme toyota
hometown ford

These are people searching for your name. They already know who you are and are just trying to find your website. This again comes back to your Google Business Profile. 

Car Dealer On Page Optimization - Content SEO

This is often referred to as "Technical SEO", a good deal of it is baked into most automotive website platforms already. But spending some time here can be a "tie-breaker" signal between you and a competitor.

Page Title & Headings

Use meaningful page titles with matching page headers that tie back to search engine keywords

Meta Descriptions

Give the search engine some preview text to show searchers and structure the preview text so that it entices clicks. Click here to find out... 

Link Structure

Help search engines learn how topics linked on your website are connected.

Click here to learn about F-150 

is not as good as

Click here to learn about F-150

Don't be Sketchy

Spamming a ton of links or keywords into web pages is no longer helpful. Search engines are too smart for this. 

Tactics like this might actually hurt your reputation.

How do search engines crawl dealership websites

Content Discovery

Search engines begin by discovering the content on your website and then following the links on the pages to discover the content behind each link. During this process the search engine is checking the link text against the content for the page that link points to. You can help this process out by maintaining an up to date XML sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console. Most automotive website platforms will take care of those things for you.

Content Ranking

Search engines will then look to see how many incoming links different pages have to them. They assume more links mean more relevance. 

Your search results page is probably linked from lots of places but your vehicle detail page for a specific car is probably only linked from a few places. Therefore the search engine will (correctly) assume that your search results page is more important than your vehicle detail page.

Quality is Key

Today, search engines are remarkably good at finding good and relevant content on websites and indexing it above junk content like keyword stuffing or link spamming. The good news here is that if you are doing the right thing to have a useful and easy to navigate website for your customers, you are probably doing the right things to win at organic search. 

SEO & Organic Search Glossary of Terms


An algorithm from Google that calculates the relative importance of a website

Meta Description

An HTML tag that contains information describing the content of an HTML document - note search engines are increasingly using the actual content in the document instead of this as a ranking signal. But this is still important for showing preview text in search results.

Inbound Link

A hyperlink from a third party website to your website

Domain Authority

A metric that quantifies a website's potential to rank in search engines


an XML document that outlines the pages on a website for which you would like to rank. It also includes information about when the pages were last updated.

Title Tag

An HTML tag that contains the name of a page. This tag is what sets the names you see In the links in search results and also in the tabs within your web browser.

Anchor Text

The text used within a hyperlink to give the link its title


A document that provides directives for crawlers about how they should interact with the content on your website


We hope that you found the Automotive Digital Marketing Email Guide to be helpful. 

Advertising is likely one of your biggest expenses at the dealership level and you have to figure out how best to allocate your monthly spend so that you can hit your advertising cost per vehicle. There’s an infinite number of choices out there and it’s your job to best allocate that advertising spend. Here are a few tactics or techniques that you can use.

Here’s a list of digital marketing tactics (or techniques) that is by no means exhaustive. Seems like there are new tactics entering the marketplace every day. But these are the individual tactics that should support your overall marketing strategy. If the tactic is linked then it will send you to our Guide for that linked tactic. Let us know if you would like to see a Guide written for one of the tactics that isn't linked. We'd be happy to write one for you. 

Check out our Complete Guide to Automotive Digital Marketing

We've worked for hundreds of hours to document our teams years of experience in one spot, and its all available to you for free.