Local SEO vs General SEO: Key Differences for Car Dealerships


Secrets to SEO Success - Blog

If you run a car dealership, you likely already understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for driving web traffic and sales. But you may be unsure whether to focus your efforts on local SEO targeting customers in your geographic area or general SEO to reach a wider online audience. While both are valuable, there are some key differences between these two SEO strategies that car dealers should consider when developing an internet marketing plan.

Define Local and General SEO

First, let’s clearly define what we mean by local and general SEO:

Local SEO focuses specifically on optimizing your website and content to rank highly and appear in search results for local searches within your geographic area. The goal is to attract nearby customers who are likely to visit your physical car dealership location to make a purchase.

General SEO takes a broader approach, optimizing your web content without a geographic focus. The goal is to rank well for industry terms and gain more overall website traffic, though not necessarily local buyers.

Optimizing for Local Intent is Crucial

One major factor that sets local SEO apart is its focus on optimizing content for local search intent. Google reports that more than one-third of mobile searches have local intent.


This means potential buyers are searching for things like “Toyota dealers Los Angeles” or “Jeep dealers near me.” Local SEO helps you connect with these ready-to-buy searchers who are specifically looking for car dealers in your area.

To achieve this, local SEO tactics emphasize mention of your location, city, county, neighborhood, and other geographic terms throughout your website and content. Citations and other signals like having a local address also help validate your business location.

Targeting Specific Keywords for Local and General SEO

The keywords targeted also tend to differ between local versus general SEO…

Local SEO focuses heavily on geo-targeted keywords, optimized landing pages, metadata, and backlinks featuring the dealer’s location and relevant local area terms.

For a Los Angeles dealer for example, this could mean targeting searches like:

  • Toyota Highlander lease Los Angeles
  • Honda Odyssey for sale Orange County
  • Pre-owned trucks Glendale dealer

General SEO casts a wider net, targeting industry keywords without a location focus like:

  • Hybrid SUV deals
  • 2023 sedan reviews
  • Luxury car financing rates

General SEO brings in overall website traffic while local SEO filters it to convert high-intent website visitors who want to buy from dealers in your particular geographic area.

Measure Conversions Not Just Traffic

When assessing ROI, it’s important to note that local SEO delivers conversions from pre-qualified nearby shoppers more likely to set foot in your dealership while general SEO brings awareness from a more broad audience.

So general SEO may drive more website sessions but local SEO converts significantly more qualified leads into actual sales. One dealer search marketing study showed that 61% of website sessions driven by local SEO keywords converted to showroom visits while only 16% of general SEO sessions led to on-site contact.

Dealers aiming for sales should track online-to-offline conversions rather than only website metrics like page views or organic traffic for a true measure of ROI.

Why Car Dealers Need Both Local and General SEO

For car dealers specifically, the most effective search approach is to leverage both local and general SEO in your strategy:

  • Use general SEO to boost brand awareness and overall site traffic
  • Then layer in local SEO to convert that traffic into local qualified buyers.

This balanced yet targeted approach helps car dealers maximize their reach while also connecting with consumers who are actively searching for dealers to purchase from in your precise proximity.

And when combined with strong CTRs, local citations listings, site speed optimizations, good customer experience both online and on your lot, and other effective internet marketing tactics, dealers can greatly outperform competitors through leveraging local SEO.

Choose Dealers United for Target Local SEO

If you’re considering search marketing options, click here to learn more about Dealers United’s best-in-class SEO digital solutions, designed specifically around the needs of car dealerships for geo-targeting potential buyers.

Want to learn more about Dealers United’s SEO Solutions?

Written By Lauren Blackwell
Lauren Blackwell is a skilled content marketer who has spent the past 3 years working in automotive advertising technology and now brings her unique experiences to Dealers United. From running ad campaigns, to curating auto-specific resources, Lauren is empowered to create valuable content to help automotive dealers thrive on social media.

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