Dealers who are looking to get a quick “health score” for their website’s compliance with Google SEO Guidelines should log into Google Webmaster Tools today. There are two specific areas of Webmaster Tools that provide instant insights to how Google is viewing your website platform.
Search Appearance – HTML Improvements
You will want to see that your website platform is compliant with Google’s recommendations for HTML page structure, title tags and meta descriptions. The reports shown above is for a live dealer’s website that I took today. For the record, I am not advising this dealer on their SEO strategy.
If you have more than 20 pages that have Duplicate Title Tags or Duplicate Meta descriptions, contact your website provider and come up with a plan to fix these errors. In most cases, you will be able to edit some pages to become unique, while other pages, like Vehicle Detail Pages, may have to be updated by your website provider.
In this example, the dealership website has 1,926 duplicate meta description tags and 477 duplicate title tags, so there is an urgent need to eliminate their sloppy HTML errors.
Google Index – Index Status
You will want to see how many pages Google is indexing on your website. Is Google seeing an increase or decrease in website pages to offer consumers in their search engine? The more pages Google indexes is directly related to how much organic traffic can be generated to your website, assuming that the content is relevant to the keywords associated with online car shoppers.
If you stock a fairly consistent number of vehicles each month, the overall number of cars that are listed on your website should be consistent. Any additional content that you add to your website should generate an increase in total pages available for online shoppers to see.
The report, shown above, shows that over the last year this dealer is trending downward in the number of pages indexed by Google. It looks like the dealership does not have a content marketing strategy in place for their own website. They may have a website platform that is not performing properly or fails to meet Google’s SEO guidelines.
A good onsite content publishing strategy should be yielding an increasing trend and not a flat or decreasing trend. If your Google Index report looks like the one shown above, you should invest in adding five to 10 new pages of content each month.
When original content is added to your website along with better tools for consumers to shop for cars is added, you can see an increase in indexed pages in Webmaster Tools.
A high number of indexed URLs, more than you know exist on your website, could mean that your site has problems with canonicalization, duplicate content, or automatically generated pages. So if your Index Status report shows you have 50,000 pages and you only stock 500 cars, you should check with your website provider about your concerns.
I Dare You To Look!
Have I motivated you to look at Google Webmaster Tools? I hope so! Let me know what you found by posting a comment on this article.
Sometimes Google will send you a message when they detect problems with your site, like a spike or drop in indexed URLs, so that is why checking Webmaster Tools on a regular basis is an important part of your monthly data inspection processes. To learn more about the Index Status report, you can view this reference page from Google: http://bit.ly/UxKNIo
If you enjoyed this article, and have not purchased a copy of “Mastering Automotive Digital Marketing,” you can do that today here.
I look forward to seeing automotive marketing professionals and forwarding think managers at the 2015 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC) in the Napa Valley, April 12th-14th.