How Dealers Are Blurring Google’s View
Mixed signals are dangerous in anything, and SEO is no exception. In 2023, most car-buying experiences begin with and develop from online search. If a dealership sends mixed signals to Google, the negative impact on the dealer’s bottom line could be monumental. But since there are countless ways to send mixed signals to Google, I’m going to focus on one misstep that you should be steering clear of.
Let me paint you a picture…
Bob has been a dealer for 15 years. He has a dealer site (BobsCDJR.com, offering new, used and certified vehicles as well as service & parts). To generate leads a few years back, he also created BobsRam.com, BestUsedJeeps.com and BobsBetterTrucks.com. Then came BobsBuyBack.com and JeepBuyBack.com, each with a strategic intention behind it, but here’s the problem…
If a prospective buyer hops on Google to search “SUV for sale” or “RAM dealer near me,” which of those sites that Bob is paying for will be recognized by Google and rewarded with the top spot? Chances are, none will. Why? Because those sites compete against one another, they send more mixed signals than drunk divorcees on New Year’s Eve. As a result, Google is now intoxicated, confused and seeing triple.
Aim for the Middle One
In automotive, your target is your primary dealer site. To get Google’s attention, you need to send clear, relevant signals to the algorithm through technical metadata, internal linking and unique, educational, long-form content relevant to the search topics you want to rank for. Duplicate sites work actively against that. Each one is another tequila shot fed into the Google machine.
And yes — while there are some legitimate reasons to have redundant marketing “microsites” — it’s easy for unnecessary competition to make Google feel like it’s the last call and it can’t remember the name of whoever they’re leaving the bar with. In other words, if you have redundant sites, don’t be mad if it’s not you.
Sober Google Up
Google claims its sole focus is to provide users with the most relevant search results. If Google didn’t, users would theoretically stop relying on it, and Google Ads revenue would crumble. So, whether altruistic or monetarily motivated, Google is invested in providing the best search results for any given search term, at any given time, in any given place. So, you need clear SEO signals. In other words, don’t take Google out and get it drunk. Take it out for a strong cup of coffee and stimulating conversation.
Here’s our playbook:
• Show Google you’re trustworthy. Is it easy to trust you if you have three (or four or five) different “names”? Duplicate or redundant websites are prone to inconsistencies since the resources needed to keep each site updated in real-time is more than most dealers account for. CTAs, pricing, hours, even inventory and images are likely to have varied appearances. Besides, syndication and digital retailing tools can increase costs for additional website implementations the dealer may not be able to support.
• Don’t dilute your expertise. Clarity in what you sell is crucial in showing you are an authority, and diluting those signals with multiple sites (especially with the same physical location) can make it unclear which site is the actual “expert,” regardless of how much content you push out. It’s also very difficult to maintain sufficient volumes of unique content across multiple websites, and duplicated information cancels itself out, bringing little to no value to the dealer.
• GBP is your wingman. Reviews and engagement with your Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business) listing will also reinforce both authority and trust, which is nearly impossible to do in any meaningful way with multiple URLs attached to multiple Google listings. Think of it as the marketing equivalent of your friends “talking you up” to Google.
You Don’t Have to Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here
You’re a “closer,” right? Well, stop sabotaging your chances for long-term success by failing to be open and direct. Stop trying to hedge your bets by casting a wider net.
Is having a single website the only key to stunning organic search success? Of course not. But when it’s closing time, remember that even the most unique, relevant and relatable content in the world gets diluted. Save yourself (and Google) the headache; pick your “partner” URL and stick to it.