Most dealers prefer to hire a third party to optimize their websites for search engines. While this is usually the best way to optimize the website, this does not mean the dealer should forego tracking his website's performance. After all, no one knows more about the dealership than you and your staff.
The following three tools are free, easy to use, and are recommended for anyone who wants to assess how well a site is doing in the search engine rankings. Whether you are an SEO expert or a first-timer, take a few minutes to log onto these sites and get established… you'll find the data helpful when planning and implementing SEO for your dealership.
1 - Website Grader http://www.websitegrader.com
Powered by HubSpot, Website Grader is the simplest of the three SEO tools discussed here today. Enter your website's URL (example: www.yourcompany.com) on websitegrader.com and press the "Generate Report" button. While this tool gives your site a grade (HubSpot uses its own criteria to evaluate your website), the value-added service here is the detailed analysis provided in the report.
The easy-to-read report breaks down the analysis by the quality and quantity of items such as content, inbound links, social media, forms and tags. Website Grader provides a powerful snapshot of your dealership website’s SEO performance, both on-page and off-site optimization, giving you insight into which SEO techniques you are utilizing well and where you still need to improve.
2 - Google Analytics https://www.google.com/analytics
Google Analytics is one of the best tools available for analyzing a dealership’s website traffic. Remember, if you cannot measure your site's performance, you cannot improve it!
Google Analytics allow you to review four important metrics:
- Website Visitors
- Traffic Sources
- Keyword Referrals
- Performance of Goals (goals that you set up)
To review the data, create an account on Google Analytics (go to the above link, click on the “Sign Up Now” box, then use your email to set up the account). Next, if your SEO specialist has already added Google Analytics to your dealership’s website, ask him/her to add your email account (this will allow you to see the same report and data that he/she sees). If your SEO specialist has not already added Google Analytics to your dealership’s website, ask him/her to do so.
Review your website data every Monday for the previous week’s performance. Similarly, on the first day of every month, print the previous month’s report. Set up an appointment with your SEO specialist to review the report together. You will be amazed at how much you will learn about the activity on your site in just a few months.
3 - Google Webmaster Tools
Website indexing by Search Engines is a crucial part of SEO. Google Webmaster Tools allows webmasters to check their sites’ indexing and thereby optimize their sites’ visibility/accessibility to the search engines. The most basic, and perhaps important, of all the webmaster tools provided by Google is allowing webmasters to submit their site maps to ensure that all the site’s pages are getting indexed by the search engines.
To sign up with Google Webmaster Tools, use can use your Google Analytics account. After logging in, select the option to add a site. Google will give you a code, also called a Meta Tag. Ask your SEO specialist to insert the Meta Tag on your website, to allow Google to verify that you are the owner of the website. If your SEO specialist already has an account with Google Webmaster Tools, ask him/her to share the login and password with you so you can review how Google is indexing the site.
Once you log in, you can review:
- Crawl Errors (you can see the details of the pages Google couldn’t access on your site)
- Top Search Queries in which your website showed up (and the number of clicks your site received)
- The List of External Pages Linking to your site (The more external pages linking to your site, the better)
- How Fast Your Site Loads
This simple tool offers a wealth of data that is often not available in one location. Review your website’s indexing status using Google Webmaster Tools to gain valuable insight into just how well-optimized your website is for the search engines.
While dozens of websites promise to give you the ultimate tool and strategy for search engine optimization, together, these three tools provide a good starting point for anyone analyzing a website’s SEO 'health'. They are free, easy-to-use, and will allow you to focus on key areas of website analytics when making SEO decisions for your dealership.
About the Author: Syed Azam is the president of AutoJini.com, a leading provider of website solutions for auto dealers. He can be reached at syed@AutoJini.com or 515-232-2024.