Being a successful heavy equipment dealer in a highly competitive market starts with your online presence. Your website is central to your digital success and should see a high volume of high-quality traffic each month. To achieve this, focus on driving paid and organic traffic using two key tactics: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
At their core, the primary function of both SEO and SEM is to increase overall visibility of your website and encourage engagement among online consumers. Both are important pieces of your heavy equipment digital marketing strategy, so it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of how these tactics are different from one another, as well as how they complement each other and work together. The main distinction? SEO brings free (or organic) traffic, while SEM brings in paid traffic. Let’s dive a little deeper into the functionality and importance of each.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your website to increase the quality and quantity of organic traffic. SEO is equal parts optimizing for what users and search engines want. Search engines like Google and Bing have crawlers that gather information about every website and webpage they can find on the internet. This crawl data is cataloged into an index that is fed through an algorithm when a user types a query into the search bar. Hundreds of ranking factors in the algorithm determine which results best match each individual search. For example, when a user searches “forklift rental” on Google, the results they see will be unique to their intent and location and filtered to show only the most relevant businesses or results. Having a website that is easily understood by search engines and seen as a relevant and valuable resource for users matters for businesses because the higher you’re ranked in search results, the more likely you are to get clicks and traffic to your site.
The more alignment there is between the content on your site and what a user types into a search engine, the greater the chance there is for your business to rank highly in results. Ultimately, search engines leverage a variety of signals to determine when and where your website shows. And with algorithms changing hundreds of times a year, it is crucial to continually make optimizations to stay current and maximize your organic success. We recommend focusing your optimization efforts in three major places:
- Framework: Is your website mobile friendly? Does your used inventory load quickly? Can users easily navigate across key pages? Ultimately, you should aim to minimize anything and everything that could contribute to user frustration. In the future, user experience (UX) will only continue to become increasingly interconnected with SEO.
- Content: Are you leveraging relevant keywords? Are you incorporating videos, customer testimonials, blogs, or other assets? A successful content strategy should provide users with an original blend of relevant information that ultimately aims to not only increase their time spent on-site, but guarantee their needs are satisfied.
- Promotion: Are you sharing new content across your social media platforms? Are your Google My Business (GMB) listings optimized? Increasing the visibility of your website, whether through third-party sources or local listings, is equally as important to improvements made to the framework and content.
What Is SEM?
SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing and, like SEO, is a method of promoting your website through increased visibility on the search results page. However, instead of relying on your website’s content and relevance to a search term as determined by the search engine, you can pay for the top positions through digital ads.
On most search engine results pages, you will notice that the top 1-3 spots are reserved for advertisements. Businesses can bid on this ad space in order to stake their claim in this high-value online real estate. With SEM, you only pay when users click your ad. This is why it's sometimes referred to as "pay per click" advertising, or PPC. The actual cost-per-click varies based on the level of demand, the type of search term, and the presence of competing dealers, among other factors. Depending on your business objectives and local competition, ad campaigns can be structured to increase your market share while maintaining your budget. SEM is a very effective way to increase the amount of traffic coming to your website because it gives you more control than SEO. You can decide which search terms you want to bid on, customize the ad content that will be displayed and, perhaps most importantly, know exactly where in search results that content will appear.
A Cohesive Approach to SEO and SEM
For a heavy equipment digital marketing strategy to be effective, it needs to have elements of both SEO and SEM. Optimizing your site for organic search ensures you won’t miss out on relevant, free traffic. Paying for SEM allows you to extend your reach, and provides the opportunity to target hyper competitive keywords that might simply be impossible to rank for organically. When both tactics are put to work for your business, not only will you increase traffic to your website, but you will also take over space that could otherwise be occupied by competitors. In fact, a Nielsen Research study found that businesses who ranked highly in both positions received 92% of total clicks. A well-planned, integrated strategy for SEO and SEM maximizes your online visibility and keeps you a step ahead of the competition.
To get started with a digital marketing strategy that incorporates the best of SEO and SEM, reach out for a free digital analysis. We’ve worked with equipment dealerships, manufacturers, and OEMs for over a decade and we’re passionate about customizing digital marketing strategies for the heavy equipment industry. Contact us today.