Michael Cirillo •
Mar 11 2019 •
5-6 min read
Operating a tech company is an interesting and fun game to play. On the one hand, it’s a delicate balancing act between deploying more resources to develop “shiny new objects”, while on the other it’s about strengthening the foundation of what brings proven success to dealers.
At FlexDealer, our focus is on helping dealers win more business. To do that, we allocate development resources toward “workhorse” applications that adhere to web standards and best practices. It was a conscious choice on our part. We know that the workhorse rarely gets to bask in the glory of the award circuit; however, when it comes to getting a job done right the first time, the workhorse is who you want on your side.
While others are focused on the front-end appeal of artificial intelligence, we’re focused on developing applications that will power those AI solutions. Especially as it pertains to the visibility of your inventory, our focus is on making sure it’s immediately accessible to search engines, AI, and voice applications like Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa. We do this by injecting advanced structured data into the code of your website.
To prevent boring you with the nerdy things I like to read about, I’ll do my best to provide a simple and brief description of structured data.
In short, structured data is a way to deeply organize and categorize the content on your website in a way that makes it immediately understood by search engines. Rather than hoping Google’s algorithms can confidently understand the context of your website and what you’re presenting, structured data tells the search engine exactly the type of content for which it is reading in a way that it can understand.
Have you ever seen the image of the “old women/young women?” Depending on your bias and perception, the image will appear to be either an old woman or a young woman.
Typically upon first glance, you will see one or the other first. Perception, understanding and context are left unstructured and in the eye of the beholder. Similar to how a search engine looks at a website and its content without the aid of structured data. At first glance, the search engine may perceive the content in one way until you add enough bias to help it understand the context properly.
With structured data, it would be like telling the search engine, “Hey, come look at this picture of an old woman” to ensure that they see what you want at first glance.
Without structured data, you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that search engines understand your website and inventory. With structured data, you’ll have the luxury of being able to specifically tell the search engine that they are looking at a specific year, make, model, trim, price, features, location, and so on.
Since the specific information is immediately recognized by search engines, they will be able to distribute your inventory much more effectively for relevant searches being made by shoppers.
Vehicle structured data is even more valuable at the prospect of new AI and voice search applications. It’s surprising that despite how much content is on the web, Siri and Alexa still have to guess as much as they do.
Short answer: No.
Longer answer: Some providers have lazy structured data on their sites, but most don’t include advanced structured data. This is why we’re focused on it here at FlexDealer.
Longer answer with a rant: So many providers use structured data as a way to nickel and dime you to increase your monthly fees. This is sad. It really is a web standard, which is why FlexDealer includes it out of the box with our website offering. If you need it, why should we or anyone withhold it from you?
Thanks to Google’s structured data testing tool, you can check up on whether or not your site has it or not. Follow these steps to check for yourself.
Click here to access the tool or type “Google structured data testing tool” from a Google search.
Grab the URL from your VDP and paste it into the structured data testing tool. The tool will analyze the code base of your site and pull out the structured data so that you can see what the search engine sees.
On the left of the screen, you’ll see the code of your website. On the right; the categories of structured data.
In this example, we’re looking at a FlexDealer client who has our advanced structured data implemented. You can click on any of the categories to expand the view and see what is included with each category. Here’s an example of what we’re telling Google about this vehicle, in particular:
We’re telling Google the exact location of the dealership. This is beneficial especially because Google still messes up with physical addresses every now and again. With specific geocoordinates, it’s impossible for them to misunderstand the location.
In these categories, we tell Google as much about your dealership as possible. Not just store hours, and main phone numbers. We’re giving them the exact hours of each department with their associated contact information. Again, structured data is about serving Google relevant information so that they don’t have to guess. When someone searches for your dealership, they will get the information they are looking for.
In these categories, we give Google an expanded view of the specific vehicle. Not just year, make, and model–rather we load them up with particulars about the vehicle and its features. If someone is looking for a truck with leather seats, inventory with structured data will show up in search results. Those listings without, won’t. It’s as simple as that.
Like I said, this is a top priority for FlexDealer because we know the far-reaching impact it will have today and in the future. The more accessible you can make your inventory listings to search engines, the better.
FlexDealer provides a website solution for automobile, RV, powersport, and commercial vehicle dealers which includes advanced structured data for as low as $499/month. That includes a beautiful, custom-designed website, inventory management tools, unlimited DIY pages AND a feed of your inventory to Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, Cargurus and others. Have questions or want to take a look under the hood? Drop us a line!