Automotive Digital MarketingLocal SEO

Auto Dealer Websites Frustrate Car Buyers

Since 2008 I have reviewed and audited over 21,000 car dealer websites. Auto Dealer Websites Frustrate Car Buyers. 

Does this make me an expert? No, not really, but I have a good idea of what changes could be implemented to improve conversions and clicks so franchised car dealers will enjoy more traffic, lower bounce rates, get clicks, calls, leads, and ultimately, more sales.

Why I do this? In the hopes of finding some that offer a good consumer experience and to stay abreast of the latest in Franchised Car Dealer Websites. Online car buyers obviously have no idea why local market, same brand, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Mazda, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, and so on franchise stores all have similar websites. To the buyer, it’s just another vanilla looking website, nothing special or unique for this supposedly local business entity.

How do Automobile Manufacturers convince Independent Business Owner’s (Dealer Principal) to use these websites?

Auto Dealer Websites Frustrate Car Buyers

Other than the fact that franchised dealers are required to have a certain type of website, dealers expect the investment to offer a sufficient ROI. Unfortunately, with franchised car dealer websites there is no guarantee that your website will convert at any certain percentage. In fact, many website providers invest heavily in the support teams whose job it is to “up sell” car dealer’s on other digital marketing products. They will offer car dealers fully managed paid (PPC) campaigns, social media management, premium display advertising, reputation management and more.

What We Know About Search? (according to experts across the internet)

    • 80% of searches have LOCAL intent – someone looking in a local area, city, zip code.
    • 60% of consumers search for local businesses on a smartphone (oh no, something else to worry about)
    • 83% of companies who pay for SEO want a better understanding of ROI – is it working? How do I know?
    • LEADS – SHOWS – SALES is all that matters when your marketing ideas are implemented.

Google Trends – It’s FREE! Does your website have the following “keywords” On-page?

Best New Car Deals
Google Trends Best New Car Deals












How To Enhance Your Local SEO

  1. Setup the following at a minimum (Google+ Business Page, Google My Business, and Yelp)
  2. There are literally 100’s of Local Listing sites you could be on. Most of them won’t help at all
  3. Consider products like Yahoo Localworks @$29.99/month to get setup in 60 directories.
  4. Make sure all business citations (NAP) name, address, and phone are identical across web.
  5. See image below for the biggest and most visited local directories you should be on.


Local SEO for Car Dealers
Local SEO for Car Dealers


Most web designer’s build car dealer websites to capture leads. Some of them don’t have enough call-to-action items while others are so stuffed, the shopper is overwhelmed with “click confusion” that the shopper clicks away, bounces off to the next car dealer website.




When you look at that many sites, day in and day out, it’s clear what issues consumers face and how they might react to what the auto industry is offering. I do not see this happening in any other industry other than automotive. I am sure it’s happening, but not sure where. I know every industry has niche website providers (Dentistry, Chiropractic, and so forth) but what choices are available in the auto industry makes car shopping confusing and frustrated.

Auto Dealer Websites Frustrate Car Buyers

Why can’t automobile consumers find simple, clean, content rich, concise, and easily understandable website layouts to shop on? Web Designer’s generally try to make sites pleasing to use but many times neglect making them convert into leads. We know that 98% of all website visitor’s bounce anyway. We’re interested in the 2% who are enticed to give up an email address, call, or drop into the dealership. By the way, are you Retargeting the “lost” 98%?

This technology is essential, keep your brand in front of these visitors via Facebook.    

Consumers don’t realize until their search begins, that when they visit all the competing Chevrolet dealer websites, they will be forced to view the same template style websites. There is really nothing to differentiate the Chevrolet dealers in the local marketplace except the layout of the template. Website providers have a variety of packages and designs available to the car dealer than can make the website seemingly different, but that’s about it. This business practice is done by design so that General Motors (and most other automotive brands) can achieve a consistent look and feel across thousands of car dealer websites.  For the website providers who participate in the monopoly, it’s a windfall. For the car dealers who must comply, it’s counter productive to being different from the competitor across town and in nearby locations. So why do car dealers go along with this practice and why don’t car dealers simply build their own web properties and push the OEM site down the SERP’s? That’s exactly what many are choosing to do. At least the ones who can see the benefit  and don’t take it so much for granted.

Why Car Dealer SEO Fails – Not Common To Find Franchised Dealer’s Page#1 Google

  • Dealer’s have no control over the SEO coding on OEM approved websites. You get a rudimentary template
  • No investment or lack of desire to control SEO by “owning” unique website property on it’s own domain.
  • Franchised Car Dealer’s all look the same across the USA. (most are required to use template website)
  • OEM’s require Dealer’s to lease websites that may (or may not) be coded to help car dealers in local market.
  •, CDK Global, NakedLime (Reynolds & Reynolds) control the bulk of franchise dealer websites.
  • Franchised Car Dealer’s given same template driven website option as competing (same brand) across town.
  • Lack of basic Car Dealer SEO knowledge that can drive far more organic traffic, calls, leads, and finally sales.
  • Dealer Ad budget is spent on OEM Website vendors, 3rd Party Vendors, and 3rd Party Classified Sites.
  • Proven SEO strategies take time to generate ROI, many car dealers not interested in long-term approach.

Here is what happens when a website designer’s gets carried away. Do you think this site is easy to navigate? Does a visitor have a clear path to leaving some information?

Why Car Dealer SEO Fails
Why Car Dealer SEO Fails



In order to win in highly competitive game of SEARCH and become the most evident car dealership in your local market, you must focus your effort in a variety of areas. These strategies will include on-site, off-site (local directories, social media) SEO is about trust, domain authority, relevance, quality links, and reputation. Yes, car dealers must pay particular attention to reputation. Bad reviews can damage SEO efforts and most importantly, future sales.

Auto Dealer Websites Frustrate Car Buyers

Finally, take time to start a Blog at your dealership. Write SEO friendly articles that add value for consumers. Provide quality content that is unique. Establish your authority in your local niche, make your content relevant to your audience and strive to build trust with your visitors. This is one of the most powerful SEO strategies that any dealership can use to differentiate yourself from the look-alike websites that liter the local brand landscape.