10 Free SEO Tools Dealers Should Use Right Now
Hopefully after my last post, Everything Car Dealers Know About SEO is Wrong, dealers have a much better idea of what’s really going on with SEO as it pertains to them.
But my post didn’t really give dealers a whole lot of positive things they could do to improve their SEO.
So, let’s get to it.
Here are ten tools dealers should be using right now to improve and manage their SEO:
1. Google Analytics
Why should dealers use Google Analytics for SEO?
Because they need to know everything about what’s going on with their websites, their SEO efforts, their target audiences and the people visiting their sites.
Google Analytics gives dealers a tool to manage their SEO and any vendors doing SEO work for them. It also lets dealers track conversions like Phone Calls, Chats, Texts, and Lead Forms as well as the quality of the traffic that is coming from their Organic search channel.
I hope by now dealers are seeing a pattern.
Google Analytics is the single most import thing they can do to manage all of their marketing. It’s the foundation for making rock-solid decisions.
2. Google My Business
Wait a minute, Google My Business isn’t a SEO tool!
Or is it?
Go look up the name of your dealership in Google. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
What you should see in the right-hand side of the search results page is your Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you don’t see a GMB for your dealership stop reading and call me immediately, you have serious problems.
What most dealers don’t realize is that up to 50% or more of their organic traffic is actually coming from people clicking through to their website from their GMB listing.
That’s a pretty significant portion of what for most dealers is their highest quality source of traffic. Getting more of it for free by optimizing your GMB listing is a good thing.
I’ll be doing a complete in-depth post on just GMB pretty quickly, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, dealers should know that GMB provides insights into how visitors found them, and those insights can be SEO gold.
And it’s really easy to track the traffic from GMB. Just add a custom UTM link to your dealership’s website link, like this:
3. Google Search Console
The pattern should really be getting clearer now. Since Google accounts for over 90% of the average dealer’s organic traffic, and Google makes the rules, it stands to reason dealers should be using every tool Google offers them.
Google Search Console (GSC), yes, I’ll be doing an in-depth on GSC too, should be connected to a dealer’s Google Analytics account.
GSC provides a wealth of information about a site’s health and how well they rank.
For example, in addition to Search Analytics, it will tell you about Links to your site, Internal Links, Manual Actions, and Mobile Usability.
GSC will also give you the search queries (Keywords/Phrases), that visitors are using to find your site. Don’t be surprised when the largest query is (other) or (not provided). Google doesn’t provide keyword search information anymore.
Google says this is because they want to protect their user’s privacy. Uh yeah, sure Google. The reality is that Google makes over $100 billion a year on paid search, so they are not going to make SEO easy.
Regardless, the search query information they do provide is valuable and when used in conjunction with some of the other tools on this list provides dealers with a means of backing into keywords and phrases they want to rank well for.
4. Google Keyword Planner
Wait a minute, this is an AdWords tool…
Yes, it is, but it’s also a good guide for getting ideas for keywords and phrases for your SEO.
But be careful, as experienced marketers know, this tool is not perfect and the numbers it provides are not absolutes, but references.
Type in your search terms, and Google Keyword Planner will give you an estimate of the number of monthly searches and how competitive it is to bid on them, which is an indicator as to how competitive they are to rank highly for with SEO.
Again, use caution. Just because a keyword or phrase ranks highly in terms of number of searches and competitiveness, does not mean you should try to rank for it.
Remember, you want conversions, and you are probably going to be better off focusing on longer tailed search terms that convert well that you can rank highly for.
5. Google Page Speed Insights
If you’ve been following developments in Internet Marketing, Website Development, and SEO, you’ve probably heard Google preach over and over that speed matters.
First, study after study has proven that the longer a site takes to load, the more likely visitors are to bail without ever looking at a page, let alone actually convert.
Many studies have reached similar conclusions, for every second longer than three seconds it takes a site to load, conversion drops by 20%.
The reason this matters so much to Google is that they don’t get paid if somebody clicks on an ad but bail before a site loads. Remember, Google makes $100 billion a year from paid search, so they don’t want slow sites.
What’s more, Google has already included site speed as a ranking factor. And with Google’s Mobile indexing and their long running July 2018 deadline, the importance of site speed will in all probability increase.
Besides, this is really a common-sense usability issue. Nobody likes slow sites.
6. SEO Site Checkup
By now you’re probably thinking SEO is complicated. And it is. But this tool will help to clarify a lot of what the previous tools tell you.
Just type in the URL of your website and it will give you an analysis of any SEO issues, SEO monitoring of your site and your competition’s, and give you the ability to create SEO reports.
Invariably there will be issues, so click on the how to fix button to see what you need to do to correct them.
This tool is not perfect. No SEO tool is. The truth is most SEO pros I know use a combination of tools like SEMRush, Moz, and AHREF.
Because Google does not make SEO easy, you need to look at a number of different tools for ideas to optimize your pages and monitoring your competitors.
Every one of these tools has their strengths and weaknesses. Some work better at identifying a lot of possible terms, some work better at narrowing down your list. I’ve found that by looking for commonalities among all of these tools I tend to find the sweet spot.
Just the name is really cool. SpyFu. And as its name suggests, this tool is for spying on your competitors.
Want to know how many organic keywords your competitors rank for? The number of estimated monthly SEO clicks? Estimated value of their monthly SEO traffic? Percentage and number of Organic vs. Paid inbound clicks? What paid keywords they’re using? Their estimated monthly PPC spend?
It’s not perfect, but SpyFu will tell you all of this and more.
Every wonder how vendors get all the information on your competitors?
Now you know.
8. Similar Web
Similar Web is another great tool for monitoring your competitors and seeing how their performance stacks up against your site.
Not only will Similar Web give you valuable SEO insights, it will tell you how your competitor’s site ranks nationally and within what category.
It will give you benchmark data for total visits, average visit duration, pages per visit and bounce rate in addition to traffic sources.
Are your competitors using AutoTrader, Cars.com, CarGurus? How much traffic are they getting from them?
Similar Web can tell you.
How much traffic is your competitor getting from Social? Are they getting it from Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? YouTube?
Yeah, Similar Web.
There’s a lot more information Similar Web will tell you about your competitors too. Go through all of it with a fine-toothed comb for ideas on who to target and how to target them.
9. Moz Local
While technically a tool more suited for Local SEO, I have always considered Local SEO as part of my overall SEO/Organic traffic marketing optimization strategy.
Your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) information on your website should be consistent across the web on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Citysearch, Insiderpages and Google My Business is a SEO fundamental.
If you don’t believe it, just wait until your site stops appearing when people search for your dealership’s name because somebody messed this up and confused Google.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to dealers that are in shear panic because their organic traffic has fallen off the face of the earth.
This is one of the first places I check.
Nine times out of ten somebody changed these records or created duplicates.
Let this be a word of warning, don’t let anybody touch these records.
Especially your cousin bobo, any helpful OEM vendor that wants to sign you up for a new social media program that other dealers are killing it with that is 100% coop approved or that kid you just promoted to Internet Marketing Manager because they sold a few cars on Facebook.
10. Social Mention
Social Media’s effect on dealership SEO performance is muddy at best. Nobody really knows the importance of Social Signals as they relate to Google’s ranking algorithm.
But, there’s no doubt that a sound social media strategy can yield huge dividends for dealers.
That’s why Social Mention can help not only your SEO, but your overall traffic as well.
Use Social Mention to discover keywords and topics that car shoppers really care about and to keep tabs on your competitors.
Hopefully dealers will take the time to use these tools. At a bare minimum they should all be using Google Analytics, Google My Business and Google Search Console.
Even just checking out their sites and some of their competitors on the free versions will better equip dealers to manage their SEO, whether it’s done in-house or through a vendor.
At the very least, dealers should now know to throw out anybody who claims to have “a proprietary SEO system, secret knowledge of Google’s ranking algorithm because they have ex Googlers working for them” or who offers “information on their competitors that dealers can’t get anyplace else.”
I also hope dealers can see that SEO isn’t a stand-alone part of their marketing strategy. SEO, Organic, Paid Search, Local, AdWords, PPC, SEM, Social Media, Video Marketing, Content Marketing, all of these are, or should be, integrated because they all affect one another.
So, what does the future hold for SEO?
Nobody really knows.
Each year Google rolls out 500 to 600 changes to its ranking algorithm. Most of these are minor tweaks. But some are major and have huge consequences.
That’s why dealers need to constantly monitor their analytics and have alerts so that if something happens that affects them adversely, they are automatically notified.
Voice search is also looming large on the horizon…
One Last Thing
For those dealers that have made it this far that have been thinking in the back of their minds, “hey, wait a minute, if I didn’t know any better it sure looks like this article was written for SEO purposes,” you’re right.
As a business owner with a new website, I have to follow the same rules that I preach.
This article is close to 2,000 words, which is exactly what I need for long form SEO.
Let’s see how high I can get it to rank.
And as always, if you have any questions or comments, please reach out, I’m here to help.