Stand out from the crowd

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crowdI was recently invited to spend some time at Google Canada. From a search and content perspective, you couldn’t ask for a better source.  I mean, Google gobbles up words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

During our time there, we discussed “organic search.” The one thing that resonated was the need for better website content — and lots of it.

And not just your typical keywords stuffed somewhere where the bots can read it. I’m talking about relevant information that will engage your customers and help answer their search queries.

Great original content is what sets your dealership website apart from competitors. Your ability to deliver the right message through real and relevant content that entertains, educates, persuades and converts should be your organization’s first priority.

Certainly you can pay for website traffic with Google AdWords. But at the end of the day, if the content on your site isn’t engaging or worse, actually creates a negative customer experience, customers will bounce and just search elsewhere — maybe even your competitor’s website.

All successful dealer websites have one thing in common — they have clear, relevant and keyword-rich content that delivers the right message with power and conviction. The content on your website should aim to do three things: target your audience, engage them, and then persuade them to take action.

Writing great content can be a challenging undertaking. It takes time and planning, research and opinion, testing and revision. But trust me — the ROI will be worth it.

The objective for content writing is clear: in order to boost Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings and gain traffic and/or e-leads, you need to have great content on your website that answers the questions your customers are asking. Here are five key elements that make great website content:

Create original content

If you write original content, search engines will help your site get more exposure. Original content means your dealership took the time to write and publish new ideas from scratch versus copying content from other dealer or OEM sites.

Google has made it clear that it will actually penalize websites that have duplicate content. But the search engine will reward high-quality dealer websites that contain original content and provide a great customer experience.

The goal of original content is to answer questions shoppers are asking. What better way to find out what those questions are than by talking to your front-line staff?

Walk around your dealership and ask your sales team, “What’s the first thing your last prospect asked you when they walked through our door?” Ask your Service Advisors, “What do our customers come back asking questions about?” I bet you’ll get 30 different content ideas in a matter of minutes.

I would also encourage you to have multiple content writers for your website so that writing styles are unique and points of view stay fresh. Empower your sales team and Service Advisors to write content that answers what customers are asking about.

Some dealers even start an “Ask an Advisor” blog series in which customers are encouraged to tweet your dealership their service questions and the blog content is derived from those questions and the answers provided by your team.  Customers appreciate dealers working hard to provide value and earn their business.

Write the headline last

In my role I create a lot of presentations. One thing I learned very early on was to write the content on each slide first, then write the headline to summarize that content.

That way if someone only skims the headlines, they get the gist of my message. I recommend the same approach for website headlines.

A good headline stimulates interest and invites readers in. According to a study by Copyblogger, 80 per cent of people will read your headlines but only 20 per cent of those people will read the rest of your content.

So how can you write the best headline? Research shows that shoppers prefer three types of headlines:

  • Those with numbers, for example, “5 reasons you should buy the all-new Ford F-150;”
  • Those that address the reader’s needs, like, “The all-new Volt goes further on a tank of gas;” and
  • Those that provide answers to questions, like, “How do I sync
    my smartphone with the Jeep
    Grand Cherokee?”

The key is to test which headlines drive the most engagement and the highest time-on-site for your dealership.

Make Your content actionable

Your content needs to inspire action. With the typical destinations on a dealership website being inventory and special offer pages, you should focus your attention on making those pages informative in order to drive action, such as a call, form submission or a visit to the dealership.

Inventory pages should be your first priority when you’re developing original content. Since most pre-owned inquiries will be focused on specific inventory, make sure you are promoting it properly.

Don’t rely on VIN burst tools to generate content for your vehicle detail pages. Write a personalized story about each vehicle. Make sure to talk about the features that can’t be shown in pictures such as safety and technology.

Additionally, ensure that you always include a call to action on the page. Whether it’s a lead form directly on the page or a link to another page, the user should understand the natural next step once they’re done reading.

Remember, with voice-to-text on mobile phones, people search differently today. Your content should answer the questions being asked about your dealership, brand and inventory. Google has made updates recently based on data that shows the vast difference between typing a query and speaking a search phrase.

For example, someone may type “Chrysler 200” while searching on their desktop, but when speaking their search into a mobile device might say, “What cars compare to the Chrysler 200?”

Be certain the content on your website answers questions based on how someone might type as well as those now being asked through search on a mobile device.

Communicate better with images and video

We all absorb information differently. Some prefer reading while others learn better by listening. What’s important when designing your content strategy is that you include various media including text, pictures and videos. Additionally, pictures and video have proven to create an emotional attachment and prompt immediate action.

Online vehicle merchandising should be a main focus for all dealers. Today, the customer expectation is that all inventory, both new and used, are live on your website with accompanying quality content, including photos and video.

Video walkarounds of used inventory describing features and benefits will yield more engagement. Shoppers expect an engaging experience and want more than just pictures; they want to feel connected and be able to virtually sit in the driver’s seat and envision what it will feel like to drive that car.

Remember to keep your videos short. You should be able to produce a quality walkaround in under two minutes.

Update continuously

Website maintenance and content creation isn’t a one-time task — it’s a commitment. Research shows sites that post more frequently have a surprisingly stronger influx of visitors through organic traffic.

There isn’t a golden number of how often you should post new content, but I’d recommend starting with a blog post every one or two weeks and trying to reduce that spread overtime. Eventually, you’ll get so good you’ll have a new post every couple of days.

In the words of Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Shoppers are looking for and actually
demanding engaging content actually on your website.

Optimize your inventory pages with personalized descriptions, beautiful pictures and walkaround videos, and create original blog content that answers the questions your customers are asking. That is a winning strategy that will see results!

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