One of your biggest challenges with automotive SEO is going to be figuring out what keywords your potential customers are using when they search for businesses like yours.

This would be, obviously, the best keywords for you to use in your automotive SEO efforts.

And while you can make plenty of assumptions about what potential customers might be searching when they are looking for dealerships in your area, your strategies are going to be much more effective if you actually know what keywords they are using.

Here’s what you need to know about keywords and how to find the right ones:

What is a keyword?

In its most basic form, a keyword is what Google and other search engines are looking for when they catalog your content.

It is a word or short phrase that tells the retrieval system what your content is about and whether or not it is likely to be relevant to someone that is searching for a specific topic.

There are actually four different kinds of keywords.

The first type of keyword is called a broad keyword. In the car selling industry, a good example of a broad keyword would be “sedan” or “truck.”

These are very broad keywords that can apply to just about every single dealership not just in your area, but in the entire world.

These keywords are generally not very difficult to come up with, but they are also not going to be very specific and therefore, very useful.

It is going to be nearly impossible for you rank on a broad keyword, especially considering all of the other factors that go into ranking your website.

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The second type of keyword is the fat head keyword.

These are keywords that are usually made up of a few broader keywords.

Like the individual keywords themselves, they are very difficult to rank for.

Chunky keywords are the third type—the amount of competition you can expect makes them moderately difficult to rank for, but these keywords are generally going to be the most useful for getting people to your showroom floor.

The last type of keyword is the long-tail keyword.

Essentially, these are longer phrases or word string that are usually very specific to your business—not just to selling cars, but to your dealership.

A good example of a long-tail keyword might be “what to look for in a new car?”

Why are keywords important?

If you’ve read an article about search engine optimization lately, you probably know that keywords are not as important as they once were.

There was once a time in SEO when there was nothing as important as keywords.

Because of how easily this is abused, however, most search engines have changed their algorithms, refining them and refining them so that keywords are less and less important.

This does not mean that they are not important at all—just that they are not the be all, end all of your automotive SEO strategy.

Keywords are, however, still the foundation of your content.

They should be the main topic of that content.

Because keywords are how search engines determine whether or not content is going to be relevant for a searcher, the keywords that you use should set the topic for the piece of content that you are writing.

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They also should make it easy for readers to understand what the content is about, simply by scanning that content.

How can I figure out what keywords our customers are using?

If you are mounting an automotive SEO campaign, you want to know what keywords your customers might be using as they start looking for information about cars or start the shopping process for a new car.

There are a few different ways that you can research keywords, including:

1. Talk to your buyers.

When someone purchases a car from you, don’t be afraid to ask them how they heard about you.

It’s likely that they probably searched online and found you among the list of dealerships in their area.

This is valuable information.

First, it tells you what sorts of keywords people are searching when they’ve found your business.

Second, it tells you what keywords you need to be optimizing for.

2. Look on social media.

Social media can be a treasure trove of information not just about your customers, but about what kinds of searches they are undertaking.

It’s also a good way to see what people are taking about, in relation to your business.

What complaints are they making?

What questions are they asking?

There is a lot of great information here if you want to understand what your customers are interested in hearing about and what kind of content they have been looking for.

3. Use keyword research tools.

There are lots of different keyword tools to use. Google has one, HubSpot has one.

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They are usually free, if you have account with the platform.

Why bother using these tools?

Not only will they tell you whether or not anyone is actually looking for that keyword, they can also give suggestions for related keywords.

If you are having trouble finding the right words for your website, using one of these tools could give you lots of possibilities.

4. Use content grading tools.

Before you start writing and posting massive amounts of content centered on one specific keyword, it will be worth your time to see whether or not that keyword is actually effective and if it is effectively incorporated into the content.