This is the first in a series of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips and tricks for auto dealers. We will walk you through the process of how to optimize your website to perform the best it can on search engines with a new post about automotive SEO in the first week of each month. As you try some of these techniques and consult with us about your SEO, watch your exposure and sales increase.
Why domain names matter for SEO
Your domain name connects your customers to your dealership.
When you search something on Google, the keywords are bolded within the domain name and description of each listing on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The more a user’s searched words match your domain name, your description, and content on your website, the more likely your dealership website will show up high on SERPs.
People used to create domain names that matched exactly with keywords so that they would show up high on the list of SERPs. Since then, Google has updated their algorithm so that you actually get penalized for doing that sort of this. However, domain names still have a big impact on your automotive SEO and branding.
What makes up a domain name
Subdomain - The first part of the domain is known as the subdomain, and it’s optional. The most common subdomain is “www” at the beginning of a domain such as our website, www.autojini.com, but there are many other variations to describe a certain page like mail.autojini.com or calendar.autojini.com. You don’t need to have a subdomain; for example, our website could be just autojini.com. Moz suggests that you should use subfolders over multiple subdomains.
Domain name - The second part is the domain name itself also known as the IP address. This is the part that we will be talking about the most later on because it has a big impact on SEO efforts, and you have the freedom to be more creative with this part. This is the section where you’ll purchase your domain name from a website like Godaddy or Namecheap.
Top-Level Domain - The last part has many names including Top-Level Domain (TLD), extension, and domain suffix. The most common TLD is .com, but there are several other common ones such as .net, .edu, and .org.
If you already have a website for your auto dealership with a domain name that you are happy with, please skip to the section called “Benefits of a good domain name” towards the bottom to find valuable information. If you’re looking for the perfect domain name, keep reading.
How to choose the perfect domain name
Try to make your domain name the following things for the best automotive SEO results.
Make it easy - Ease is everything today. The easier your domain name is to read, say, spell, and remember, the better off your dealership will be. Your domain name should be memorable so that customers don’t forget about you. Google takes into account ease and keywords in your domain name when ranking it, so make sure that it’s optimized for customers to easily use and remember. Having a processing fluency that is quick and simple for your domain name benefits your dealership in many ways.
Make it concise - Short domain names perform better and are easier to remember. They make processing fluency easier and can make your domain name more recognizable. According to one study, the 50 most popular websites have an average of just 6 characters in their domain name. Think about Google, Amazon, and YouTube. As a rule, you should try not to exceed 15 characters.
Make it relevant - Make sure that your domain name is relevant to your website. As an auto dealership, your domain name should include something about vehicles, your dealership, or its location. Your customers should know that they’re on a website for your auto dealership based on your domain name. People should intuitively be able to tell what your website is about based on your domain name. Make sure that you’re sending the right message to your online car shoppers.
Make it brand friendly - Don’t just pick your domain name based on SEO. SEO definitely has a big impact on your rankings and your performance, but you also need to think about branding. Your domain name should match your brand name so that customers can find you easily. Your brand should be consistently portrayed on your website, in marketing materials, at your dealership, and in your domain name. Mentioning your domain name in different places throughout your website can help your branding effectiveness.
Make it a .com - About 75% of domain names have a TLD of .com; it’s the most popular and most recognized. However, if that isn’t available, you can go with one of the other popular TLDs mentioned above or use a ccTLD. A ccTLD is a country code Top Level Domain. Some common ones include .us (United States), .au (Australia), and .uk (United Kingdom). You could also make your TLD location or industry specific. You might think that a TLD with relevant keywords would help your dealership website perform better online, but Google doesn’t take into account keywords in your TLD. You’re better off just sticking with a popular Top Level Domain like .com or .net.
Make it keyword friendly - Your domain name should be unique, catchy, and relevant to your brand. If your website is www.wesellcars.com, that’s not very unique. While it is relevant to what you do, no one will associate that domain name with your dealership because it’s too generic and not brandable. Instead, include at least one generic keyword that’s applicable to your dealership. Generic keywords perform better in domain names since they have a broader reach. Don’t stuff your domain name with keywords in the hopes that it will rank higher on SERPs because that’s not how it works. You shouldn’t focus on specific keywords in your domain name because Google will punish you for matching to keywords exactly. If this happens, you have to have the most effective automotive SEO and the best content to make up for it. Instead, go for generic keywords that will allow you to pop up on many peoples’ SERPs.
Make it straightforward - Avoid hyphens and numbers if you can. You can use up to one hyphen if you need it, but don’t confuse your online shoppers with symbols and numbers they can’t make sense of. You might even prevent them from clicking a link to your website if they think it looks like spam.
Make it thorough - Some experts suggest that you should purchase domain names with slightly different spellings than yours. This will direct people to your site even if they happen to spell your domain name wrong. Some also advise that you buy the same domain name with different extensions to capture more of the market and avoid other dealerships from using a domain that is very similar to yours.
Make it legal - Make sure to check for trademarks before you decide on a domain name. You don’t want to pay for a domain name and then find out that someone else has a similar one. Avoid getting sued by not risking trademark infringement. It’s better to be safe than stuck with outrageous legal fees.
Benefits of a good domain name
- More credibility – Your customers are more likely to trust your website and your dealership.
- Higher rankings on SERPs – Google pays attention to domain names…let this work in your favor.
- More website traffic – Watch how domain names impact SEO when you see your traffic increase.
- Higher Click Through Rates (CTRs) – Domain names relevant to website content receive more clicks.
- More potential for branding – Adding more positive things that relate to your brand has a big impact.
- Higher sales – People are more likely to be interested in your dealership and your vehicles if they’re taken to a website that is what they were expecting. Watch how a good domain name increases conversion rates and sales.
Stay tuned next month to find out the next step in the process to getting your entire website Search Engine Optimized. Watch how this advice and these tips can help improve your online performance.
If you need help finding a domain name, AutoJini can help. Consult with us about your automotive SEO needs, and let us lend our expertise to help your dealership succeed. Call us at (515) 232-2024 today!