These days, most digital marketers will tell you that search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial in creating an effective digital marketing strategy for your retail business. From backlinks, to new website content, to social media engagement and beyond, pretty much all of your dealership’s online activity contributes to its SEO. Of these, one of the most important aspects driving search engine favorability is consistent local citations.
A citation, which can be found in databases and directories, is a listing that includes a business name, address, phone number and website, as well as an occasional email address. Also called NAPs (for name, address, and phone number), these listings are scanned by search engines like Google, and the more consistent and informative they are, the higher the search engine optimization is for that business.
Google My Business, Bing Places, Apple Maps, YP (formerly Yellow Pages), Yelp, Citysearch, Better Business Bureau, and variety of larger database aggregators are just a few of the sites search engines scan when ranking businesses in search results. Consumers also use a wide variety of these directory sites when researching information on a business, and will often use smaller local listing sites as well as Facebook. There are also numerous dealership locator services available for car shoppers, such as AutoTrader and Edmunds.
Having inconsistent citations on these sites is perhaps the most common issue negatively affecting SEO. A recent study, 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, found that three of the top 10 factors that contribute to a business’ SEO are related to citation count, consistency and quality. When information about a business, such as the stylization of a name or the hours of operation, vary from directory to directory, search engine favorability declines. If your dealership’s contact information differs across the web, search engines such as Google have difficulty understanding that information is related to your dealership, causing your search ranking to decline.
In addition, inconsistent citations may lead car shoppers and potential clients to receive inaccurate information, such as an incorrect phone number or store hours. This may turn them away from contacting your dealership, and is the equivalent of closing your doors during prime sales time. For these reasons, it is critical that every listing of your dealership is claimed and correct. The data speaks for itself: according to an InsideLocal survey, 76 percent of digital marketing respondents said that optimizing your Google listing delivers good or excellent return on investment (ROI).
However, with so many business databases, map listings and dealership directories available to car shoppers, finding, claiming and maintaining citations is a foreboding task. Contact our automotive digital marketing agency to receive a complimentary local citation audit, and begin taking a proactive role in your dealership’s SEO.