Boost online car sales with SEO tactics designed for Automotive

Automotive businesses that are looking to launch a new search engine optimization (SEO) strategy or want to revamp an existing approach to drive better performance don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, the best way to refine your process is to learn from examples of best practices within the industry and adapt them to your specific needs and objectives.

There are a number of potential options to choose from, but we think that three in particular showcase distinct strategies that offer guidance for a diverse set of circumstances: Cazoo, Cinch, and Autotrader. Each of these companies approaches automotive SEO in a unique manner that can be examined and adapted to fit your business.

So, rather than trying to start from scratch and hoping that you’re able to create an effective SEO strategy without having done it before, follow in the footsteps of those who have already proven their knack for success in this area. Learn from their examples before developing an approach that is specifically suited to your circumstances.

We’re thrilled to present our analysis to you in this webinar! If anything remains unclear or you simply would like more information, let us know!

Video transcript

We're right on time. So, without further ado, let's start. Thank you for joining the webinar. Today we will talk about boost online car sales with SEO tactics designed for automotive. Thank you all for joining.

I wanted to start with agenda, so we will start a few words about Reffine. I will talk about types of traffic. I will mention about organic traffic and how to impact it. I will also mention what can we learn from Cazoo, Cinch, and AutoTrader? What can we learn from other car manufacturers?

And I will end up with key takeaways. At any point if you have any questions, just - you can type in to Q and A and at the end I will answer all the questions that you want. So let's start. Reffine is a company that builds a DXP platform that helps to empower companies – mostly automated companies – with building websites across the globe. We have additional features like stock locator that can help you digitalize your cars, your showroom, and put it online.

So, it helps with only channel experience of your customers so they can browse all the cars that are currently available in stock online, and then they can either purchase them online, reserve them with eCommerce feature, or they can actually go to a certain showroom to check their car and actually touch it. So, to understand how it looks like and it helps with only channel experience. We work, for example, with Jaguar and Land Rover and with over 100 countries at the moment. I'm personally Tom Winter.

I'm the chief growth officer at Refine. I help our customers to get better performance, like sell more, and help them out with their digital experience. I have a lot of experience in SEO. For the last twelve years I was helping out companies to build better performance organic traffic and this is something that I feel really good with. So, about the trend: what's happening at the market right now?

So, Mercedes-Benz plans to hit 25% in online sales by 2025. And Betina Fitzer, BP of communication marketing at Mercedes-Benz, said, “We will move away from large showrooms, especially when we move to direct sales.” You can see there's a whole movement into direct sales and eCommerce experience, also in automotive. Automotive is joining the eCommerce trend a little bit late.

But it's because the size of the purchase, like how much money you have to actually spend on buying a car. But it doesn't mean when you're buying a car you don't have to pay full amount because you can just commit and reserve the car with just a couple of hundred of euro or maybe 1000 and then purchase the car. But to drive more sales, you have two levers that you can pull. One lever is: have more traffic on your website. The other one is: improve your conversion rate. So, you can get more conversions out of the same traffic that you're getting to your website.

And these are the two main levers that you can pull. So, looking at the types of traffic, you have four types of traffic. First one is direct, referral, paid, and organic. And I would like to go over every kind of, like, each one of these specifically. So, direct traffic is the traffic that people type in directly to your browser, like the name of the company and the website, and they go directly to you.

So, this is the type of traffic that people already know your brand and know your website, know how to get there. And this is direct traffic. So it's basically based how well-known is the brand of the car that you're selling. Regarding referral traffic, it's all the traffic that comes from links that refer to your page. So, it's all articles and backlinks coming from PR stunts that you do.
When you’re launching your new car, just remember to ask about getting a backlink to your website because that will drive referral traffic. It's all the actions in social media.If you're posting new posts on social media, that also drives referral traffic to your website. And also if you have email campaigns and you have links there, that's also referral traffic. So, every time that you put a link and the person comes to a link from somewhere else, that's referral traffic.

Paid traffic. Paid traffic is the traffic that you pay for. Mostly, for example, from SEM – so, search engine marketing. That means from ads in the search engine. So, if you pay for ads in Google, if you pay for ads, display ads somewhere across the web, if you pay for ads from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and every other social media platform, that's paid traffic. All remarketing campaigns and all traffic that you pay for, that's paid traffic. The good thing about the paid traffic is when you pay for it, the traffic starts flowing.

But the bad thing about it, when you stop paying for that, the traffic stops flowing. So, as long as you pay for this traffic, it's good. And there's the last type of traffic, which is organic traffic, which we call often the free type of traffic because search engines drive this traffic to your website, because your websites are relevant. Because Google owns over 90% of market share, I will focus here on Google because it's such a big search engine. And I would like to tell you more about the organic traffic.

So, Google has and always had one goal. Please remember that. Provide most relevant content that best answers the question of the user. And that was like that for last 20 years. They always wanted to bring best content that best answers the question of the user. The problem is that they got better and better with execution.

So, all the hacks – black hat SEO tactics – that worked a while back, they don't work anymore because Google is better with finding ways to catch these people that want to cheat Google. But they still want to provide the best relevant content that answers the question of the users. Even though that we call organic traffic the free type of traffic – because we don't pay for that – we actually do pay for that with the amount of work that we have to input to get this traffic. But because we do pay for paid traffic, we can estimate how much organic traffic is worth if we would try to get the same traffic by using paid traffic. So, for example, if I'm looking at Land Rover Poland website, this is Ahrefs report.

Ahrefs is a tool that everybody can use and everybody can check. So, I would use it like, within this presentation a couple of times. And here, the traffic value for Land Rover Poland, if you can see, it's 9.2K dollars per month. So basically, what they're getting from the search engine – from Google – is worth the traffic, organic traffic, the free one, is worth about 9.2K every month. If we're looking at Land Rover Germany website, the traffic value of Land Rover Germany is worth almost $43,000.

Probably the keywords that they use in Germany are worth more because the country is a little bit bigger and the traffic for these keywords is a little bit bigger. That's why the value of this organic traffic is a little bit bigger. And this is just an estimate. Like, it's not exactly the amount, but we try to estimate how much this traffic is worth. But if we look at Land Rover UK, the traffic that they're getting is worth over half a million dollars.

So, depending on the traffic that you're getting, like where you're based, in which country, and how good your SEO is, you can get a lot more of this free traffic that actually is worth a lot of money. But if we look at each keyword just to understand where these estimations come from. So, for example, this is another report from ahrefs. We can see that Jaguar F-PACE in UK has a volume – search volume – of 650 people that are searching every month for this specific keyword. And the value of this specific keyword to Jaguar UK is about $50,000 per month. And we can check the value for each and every keyword and website that we have.

So looking at this, like, if we type in Jaguar F-PACE into Ahrefs – this is also required from Ahrefs – we can see that cost per click, so something that you would pay for every click when you use paid ads, would be $0.80 for every click that you get. So, based on that, if you multiply it by the amount of traffic that you're getting, you can estimate the amount that actually how much is worth the traffic that you're getting from organic source. So, even many people that think that search engine optimization is magic, in my opinion, it's not. It's very logical and easy to understand.

So, first of all, you have to give more relevant content. Remember I said that Google wants to give the most relevant content that answers the question of the users. This is exactly this. It also has to be technically-optimized website so Google can understand what's on the website. So, Google does it so that people can understand better the text.

We also have to work on core web vitals – I will mention about that – and get more backlinks. So, let's start with more relevant content. It has to fully answer the questions that people are asking. Google wants to give the best answer to the people, so they will show the website the page that best answers the question.

They don't want the person to go back to Google and search again and again and again because Google wants to give the best answer, like, in the first round. It has to be structured and screenable. So, we don't want to see a bulk of text. We want to see headings. We want to see short paragraphs, something that is screenable. We want to see additional media that helps us to understand exactly how it looks like and what we're looking at.

First, people are starting to scroll through the article, so through the content that is answering their question, to actually see if it answers the question. So, technically-optimized web page, it's not that bad. I saw a report showing over 200 factors that Google is looking at, probably even more. But we don't have to look at the whole list. We have to figure out, like, the main ones.

So, in my opinion, for example, it's accessibility compliance because not everybody has a perfect site. So, if you have a website, make sure that the contrast on your websites are in the proper manner, like that the fonts are not too small for people to read, that everything is visible on your page, that CTAs are visible so people actually can click them and everything in context of site of people. Google has to understand the context. So, they use AI to understand what's on your page, not to literally go through it, but they use AI to understand what's on the page. I will go back to that later on. It's good to base your content on keywords that people actually search for.

So, if we only would think about keywords that we would search for, it might happen that we're the only people in the world that are searching for this thing, specific thing, in such a way. So, use a crest or semrush or other tools on the market that actually can tell you that other people are also searching for such a terms. And it's not only you, and the search volume is big enough, and people actually want to pay for these keywords to be ranked for high, so want to use paid ads for that. That's a good indicator of a good keyword. That the website is country- and language-specific because it's like very important.

If you're in Latin America, you should have your website in Spanish, Portuguese. It's very important to have country-, language-specific websites. And most important one: original source. So, you can't copy content from anybody else. It has to be original because Google otherwise will rank other website better. Cora web vitals, I will definitely make a separate webinar on that. But coral web vitals, if you have to think about it, it's something that is, like, really there's a lot of buzz for the last two years.

It's largest content paint, first input delay, cumulative layout shift. If I would have to define it, like, really, like, in couple of words, I would say your page has to load blazing fast. This is how people are engaging with your content. If your page loads fast, they can browse through the whole page. If they have to wait for your page to get loaded, then that's a problem for them.

They will just go somewhere else to find the answer. And Google hates it. Google doesn't like it because these people are coming back to Google and searching again for the same question because the page wasn't loading fast. So, if you have to think about four web vitals, it's about the speed of the page that is loading, mostly. More backlinks and internal links. Even though that Google often says that backlinks, they're not looking at backlinks, I haven't seen an actual report where it's proven that backlinks don't work.

They do work. But not the scammy ones. You have to have original backlinks that are looking like natural ones. If, for example, you’re PR agency when you're posting a new car, when you're launching a new car, and there's a lot of articles around the web about the new car, I would go to each of these websites and ask actually to get a backlink because your website is the original source of data about this specific car. It's the best source of the data of this car.

So, you're helping out actually the company to link to your website because you will show this car on your website. You have more photos, probably 360 views and so on. So, it's easy to get backlinks like that. So when you're doing guest posting, you're asking about, actively asking about backlinks from the articles that are already on the web. Just for your information, to pay for a backlink – which is forbidden, and it's blackhat SEO – it costs between 100 to several thousand dollars.

I wouldn't recommend it because that might cause some problems. If Google noticed that you're buying backlinks, which is not legal from their perspective, then that might cause some problems. But actually paying for backlinks costs between 100 and a couple of thousand even dollars from better sources. But just to show you some real life use cases: what we can learn from Cazoo, Cinch, and Autotrader. This is another report from ahrefs where we show Cazoo.
As you can see in top right corner, Cazoo every month brings traffic, organic traffic, which is estimated to be worth over $900,000. And how are they doing? They're focusing on certain keywords in a certain way that bring them traffic. So, for example, they use a keyword: “Mercedes A class.”

They rank pretty high for “Mercedes A Class for sale,” which has search volume 9000 searches per month. They have position one. And just for this specific keyword, it's estimated that this specific keyword brings them around $26,000 every month. Similar thing with “Range Rover Evoque for sale,” or “electric cars for sale.” So, you can see a pattern.

They have a brand name SEO – Mercedes A Class, Range Rover Evoque – and they add – they specifically try to rank for to add this for sale part in the keyword. People are actually looking for Mercedes A Class class, writing exactly this specific keyword. And the great thing about this keyword, that in this keyword you can see buying intent. People that are typing these specific keywords are likely to buy more often because they are looking for a Mercedes A class for sale.

So, that's a really neat way of finding traffic that is very relevant and they have a buying intent. They also rank good for, “second hand hybrid cars,” which has a surge volume 3100 users per month. It's position two, and you can see that the estimate is over $10,000. But I wanted to show you just how it looks like on their website, because how they do it is also really interesting.

What Cazoo does is they try to make a marketplace of cars. Because if you're typing in that you want to use this car, like, buy this car, Mercedes-Benz A Class, they optimize it for this specific keyword and they have a marketplace of cars that you can directly start talking about or you can buy. These are the cars that are currently available, and that's very good to make more conversions of these cars. So, as I told you in the beginning, to drive more sales, you can pull two levers. One is traffic, and the other one is conversion rate.

They're doing great things here for both of these things. They want to have more conversions. They want to actually sell cars online. So, they're using the method like a marketplace of cars. They digitalized their whole stock and put it online.

This is an evergreen content because they're adding the cars automatically. Every time that they get a new car, it's automatically added here. They also underneath write relevant content about these specific cars. And also they add FAQ in the bottom. So, these are the questions that people often ask in Google and Google wants to show a page that answers this question.

This is a very cool strategy that they have. But going next to Cinch. Cinch is a competitor of Cazoo. And as you can see in the top right corner, the value of the traffic is estimated to $132,000. It's a lot smaller than Cazoo, but still, they do a lot of things good.

They have a lot less backlinks and they have a lot less credibility than Cazoo, so they have to fight for their traffic. And what they do, they try to go into niche keywords. So, you can see that these keywords are niche keywords with a lot lower search volume. So, for example: “what cars can pull a horse trailer?”

They rank on position one. They don't get much traffic from that. But the good thing is this specific article is not optimized just for one keyword. It's optimized for probably 30, 40, or even 100 keywords. And they rank with this specific keyword probably for about as far as I checked, for over 140 keywords.

So, all this traffic together gives them a lot more traffic and a lot more value. Also, they found: “best small cars for motorway driving,” “longest range electric cars,” “affordable seven seater cars.” These questions are asked by their customers, and they try to rank as high as possible. How do they do it? So I can show you.

So, they don't use the marketplace. I think they could, but I will show you how Autotrader does it, like, how to combine these two things. But they write an article that actually answers these questions. So, “towing tips,” “best cars for towing horse trailers.”

They add different cars that can actually tow the horse trailer, and they link to cars in their stock. I think they could do a better job here. But still, they're trying to answer the question that the person asked, and they're doing it really with a cool strategy. So, coming back to our presentation, we have AutoTrader. And AutoTrader is the biggest one in the UK. Their traffic value is currently estimated for over $11 million per month.

They've been on the market for the last decade, and they're doing quite good. But currently Cazoo is trying to change the market and AutoTrader was there for a long time. So, the relevance of their website and the reliability is really high. So, what AutoTrader does, they go for really big, like, I would even say huge keywords. But they don't have like, sale intent. But these are the biggest keywords, the juiciest keywords that there are.

So, for example: “electric cars for sale.” The search volume of this specific keyword is over 19,000 searches per month. They rank at position one. And just this one keyword brings them over $120,000 worth of traffic per month, which is a lot. “Motorhomes for sale.”

“SUVs for sale.” “Static caravans for sale.” These are all the keywords that are bringing them a lot of traffic and a lot of value. So, if we go just to AutoTrader, just to show you how they build their website, they have their search on the top. This page is optimized for this specific keyword. They show different types of electric cars.

They add as a snippet the marketplace. The stock locator, actually something that can convert traffic to buying a specific car. They add also additional questions about the cars that people have. And this is evergreen. Every time when they add additional cars, this changes.

They always want to have new content on the website. And that's a combination of what Cazoo does in Cinch. So, they add content, plus they add the marketplace, the combination of these two, which is a brilliant way of doing it. So, moving on: what they are doing great. So, they're using pages as online marketplace.

It's kind of an evergreen website. So, if they optimize it once, it kind of automatically updates. It automatically updates and it keeps the content always relevant. They create relevant content using their inventory. So, if they have certain inventory, they use it on their website.

So, they try to digitalize their stock and put it online to help people find it. It's not only based on offline – finding cars offline, but it's mainly based on finding cars online. It helps also with only channel experience. They’re researching their keywords that they can focus on. I can say definitely it's not by accident. They know exactly what keywords they are focusing on.

You can see it from the website. They know the search volumes of each insert and keyword. They know what they want to focus on. If they're creating a content, they don't focus just on one keyword. They focus on many keywords because they know that the content that they create on a certain page can rank for many keywords at the same time.

It's like really, really good and hefty that to optimize it for more than one keyword. If we're talking about EV cars, there's multiple ways, multiple keywords that we can focus on and to help to rank it for. Their websites are clean and well-structured pages. They have great on-site SEO. That means it's optimized.

The pages are screenable, you have pictures, so it's media rich. It's easy to go through the page for the user. That means that they will spend more time on it, there will be more dwell time. And in Google's opinion, that answers the questions that the person has. So, their content is very relevant and their pages are optimized for accessibility.

They're easy to navigate. The contrast on the websites are really good. But what they can do better. So, think of Google like of a blind person, because Google doesn't have art like we do. If Google goes to our website, they try to understand the code of the website and they try to understand what the person actually sees. But if you look at images, they have to use AI to actually understand what's in the image.

They have to make a sense of all the text that you have and categorize it so they will understand what exactly is on the page, so to be sure that what they see on the page is actually what the person is looking for. So, how we can help Google with that? We can create structured data. For example, automotive: that means we can translate exactly what's on the page.

So, if you are, for example, on Jaguar XE car at the moment in your stock locator, we can translate what Google sees into language that Google better understands, the crawlers understand. So for example, this is structured data that users don't see, but it's in the code that translates all the specifications that you put in the stock locator of your car. So, when you're digitalizing your stock, that the type of the car is vehicle, that fuel type is diesel, for example, that the model is XE, that the color of the car is Narvik Black, that you have automatic transmission, that the production date of the car is 2022, and so on and so on. There's a lot of structured data that you can use. It doesn't mean that you can cheat Google and add to structured data more than you actually have on your website, because Google will check it.

But it's easier for Google to actually understand what's on the website. And if it's easier to understand what's on the website, that means they have a lower risk of showing something that is not relevant for the user. If we lower the risk for Google of showing the user the content that is not relevant, they are ranking us better, like higher. But that's not all, because when we add such structured data, we help Google to give users so-called non-click answers. So, when you see for example, somebody is asking Jaguar F-Pace has VR horsepower, what Google often likes to do is to show a snippet that answers this question, and they will show your website as a source of traffic.

It's very good if your website is the brand owner website, because you're the best source of truth about specific brand of cars. When you get such a snippet, you have more space in Google, probably there will be less answers on the page. It will not be ten, but maybe seven or eight. And it's more likely if you have more space that people will not only read the answer, they want to get more information. So, they would click your link and go to your website because you have more space, there was more relevance from their perspective.

Also looking at structured data, you can see additional information in search. So for example: stars, ratings. This is basically structured data, additional pages, information about the price of the car and so on and so on. There's like more and more structured data at the moment and it's growing really fast. But that's not all. What we can use it for is, for example, with Facebook ads.

Facebook ads had something like Facebook ads feed, where basically if you create your stock, digitalize your stock, you have this data and structured data. So, what you can do is you can export the data directly to Facebook so you can create relevant ads showing ads of your cars that you currently have in stock. And your digital agency that is working on that can create ads for the cars that you currently have in stock. And they can optimize the whole process, which makes that more relevant, and the conversion rate of these cars is much higher.

So, this is a way that you can use it. Google is currently also testing out in the United States similar thing. They are creating vehicle ads where once they will roll it out across the globe, it will be also possible to feed Google ads with such a feed that will help out to sell cars online directly in Google. But you can only do it if you have such a fee. So, if you have your stock online in the marketplace, then it's possible.

But what other car manufacturers are doing like BMW UK? So, looking at BMW UK, as you can see in the top right corner, the estimate of their traffic is about – over $500,000. I've done an audit of their website with using ahrefss – so a tool that you can access on your own and you can test out your page – and I saw that the health score of their website according to ahrefs is about 60 from 100.

So, you can see that they have some issues, technical issues, on their website. If I would help them out, I would actually go through each of these issues and I would try to fix them because that makes the experience worse if you have a lot of redirects like on your website, because when you're changing the URLs, because it makes people wait more if you have every redirect. You have some orphan pages and so on and so on, the list is long. I would recommend going to ahrefs or semrush or any other tool that can do an audit of your website and give you a health score of your website and help you define actually what you can do better on your page.

But if you have a brand website like BMW UK, most of your keywords will be directly connected with your brand or brand of your models that you're selling. So, for example, it's likely that you will rank for, “bmw x1” on a certain market, in a certain country, if you're an original BMW website. And you can get a lot of traffic. So, search volume for this specific keyword is around 12,000 users per month. They rank at position one.

And the worth of this traffic is about $27,000. “BMW Electric Cars.” This is a specific page about electric cars that they rank for, which is a great idea how they can rank for different keywords that are not directly connected to their models. But they can do a better search with, “2022 bmw 4 series convertible.” So, this is a page about exactly convertible model that is from a certain year.
But to show you how much value can you get in a specific country if you have a brand website – so you're actually a dealer, an importer of cars in certain countries – “used BMW Five Series.” They rank on position one. They get over $1,700 worth of traffic just for this one keyword. And let me show you the page, like, how it looks like.

Just remember we are looking for “used BMW five series.”

This specific page has no used BMW five series.

Let's wait till it's load. It loads really slow.

And on this page you can see series two, series one, series one. It's still loading, so you have to look at it. But there's no five series. So from Google's perspective, this is the best, most relevant answer to this specific question about BMW, US BMW five series.

So, if I was there competition, I would definitely take this keyword from them. I would create a page which is more relevant for this specific keyword with Google and I would outrank them for this specific keyword. But the strength of the car manufacturer website is so big that sometimes Google does such mistakes. So to finish it up, I wanted to give you key takeaways from this webinar. So, first of all, test your page in ahrefs or semrush.

Like, I'm not linked to any of these. These are my two favorite tools for testing out like pages. And there's probably a lot more tools that you can test your website with. But I would test a website, I would do an SEO audit using one of these tools, because then you will see how you're performing, what you can do better. And if you're working with an agency, then you can actually tell them like, look, this thing and this thing on our website needs to be fixed.

Make sure your page is fast. And it's not only about going to the agency and telling them, “Make the page work fast.” Work on core web vitals, because sometimes it's also on your side. The main issue that I found among customers that I worked with is Google Tag Manager. We had so many additional scripts to Google Tag Manager that it slows down the whole page.

Sometimes just the Google Tag Manager is responsible for half of the time that the page is loading, because somebody, for example, forgot to turn off recording of sessions of people. Because you have ten analytics codes that are loaded in Google Tag Manager. Just go to the Google Tag Manager if you're using it and just check which snippets, which code you can disable. Like sometimes there is a lot of code that somebody just turned on for some reason two years ago and it's left there. It's slowing your page down.

So I would clean up GTM and also work on speed of the page. So, I would work on core web titles with the digital agency that is helping out with your website. Make a list of the keywords you're focusing on. I mean, a big list. It's not ten keywords, it's not even 20.

Make a list of 200, 300, 500 keywords that you want to focus on. Some of the pages that you'll be creating will focus on ten, maybe 20 keywords and be optimized for this amount of keywords. If you're having a big list of keywords, it's easier to go with a strategy going with long tail keywords. So, kind of spray and pray. But optimize for these specific keywords to get traffic from all of them.

Unfortunately, organic traffic is built over time, so you never know in exactly with which keywords you will rank higher if you optimize. So, if you have a big list of keywords that you're optimizing your website for, there's a higher chance that you'll bring actually organic traffic. Don't focus just on one keyword that you want rank for. Don't focus even on one keyword that brings like has a search volume of 19,000 searches for per month like AutoTrader does, because it's really hard to rank for this specific keyword. AutoTrader worked on that for the last decade.

Plan out content that will cover your keywords. So, exactly what I said just a moment ago, when you have keywords, plan the content that will help you out to rank for these keywords. Create appealing content that best answers users questions. So, content that has a specific structure, that is easy-screenable, that is MediaRich and answers the questions that people are typing into Google. Digitalize your showroom and use it as an online marketplace.

So, basically, if you're digitalizing your showroom, as I mentioned before, you're helping out with only channel experience. So, people browse the cars online, go to your showroom offline and buy the car. It helps out people to choose the showroom where they can find actual car that is currently on stock. And it also makes the content more relevant because it's evergreen. The cars are changing, being changed on the website automatically.

And the last thing, if somebody writes about you ask for a back link, maybe they will not give it to you. But there is no shame in asking because if you have a website about specific brand, it's very likely that they will actually give you a backlink. So, thank you very much for listening. I hope you got, like, some action points that you can start working on tomorrow. And if you have any questions, just ping me on LinkedIn or write me an email. I'll be happy to answer and happy to help you and thank you for your time and have a great day.