Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Filed in: Marketing

5 Things to Look for when Hiring an SEO Company

By Richard Valenta on Jan 11, 2013

SEO

Search engine optimization in the automotive industry isn’t hard, which is why it surprises me how often companies choose to use shortcuts rather than to apply proven and acceptable white-hat techniques. It’s a problem that has been on the rise more in the last year than ever before. The reason for it is simple: true search engine optimization requires manual effort.

Large vendors prefer to avoid this because they feel it isn’t scalable. Smaller vendors scramble to assemble the manpower necessary to make it happen. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to perform search engine optimization at a scalable level that delivers real results for dealers. Identifying those who can bring you the results is as easy as answering five questions.

Before we get into the questions, it’s important to note one important omission from the list. You’ll notice that I did not include, “Do they have examples of dealers ranking well for challenging keywords?” If a vendor has more than a handful of clients, they will have examples of strong rankings. It’s inevitable. There are too many poorly optimized websites out there. A list of examples of clients who rank well is something that every vendor can provide. We’ve even seen occasions where websites that we have optimized on other website platforms are used as examples by that website provider.

Here are the questions that can truly help you make an educated decision.

 

Is Their Solution Centered Around Unique Content?

The Google Panda update of 2011 specifically attacked websites with duplicate and/or low-quality content. The automotive industry was not terribly harmed by this as most dealers have variations of “spun” content on their sites. Relative to other websites in the same realm, most dealerships are equally harmed by the lack of truly unique content, which means that the bar is set low to achieve higher rankings.

Vendors that do the same thing may not be hurt by this type of content, but they certainly aren’t helping. Building unique content pages on a monthly basis is a differentiator that only a handful of vendors utilize. Look at examples of their website SEO. Copy the first or second paragraph of the HTML content on the page. Paste that into Google and search. If you see a lot of websites that have the same basic content but with small changes such as the dealership name and city, you’ll know that their content is not unique enough to be a differentiator.

 

Do They Automate the SEO Process?

All of the old tricks of the trade are dead. Google and Bing have more brainpower behind fighting blackhat SEO than all of the blackhats combined. One of the worst potential offenses that both Google and Bing despise is automated SEO content.

There is no system today in or out of the automotive industry that can fool the search engines by generating pages based on actions from a feed. In other words, if a vendor is automating page creation by “spinning” content with different cities or models, they are going to be hurt by this practice. Some dealers have learned this lesson the hard way. This type of blackhat SEO isn’t just ineffective – it’s potentially dangerous.

 

Does Their Keyword Strategy Meet Your Individual Needs?

The most powerful SEO in the universe is worthless if the proper keywords are not targeted. The foundation of any strong SEO service is keyword selection and maintenance. It’s not just about picking out the right keywords in the beginning. It’s about enhancing the keyword selections based upon needs, changes in the industry, and expansion of the keyword reach.

Ask potential vendors to send you their onboarding or launch questions. This document should ask you what cities, new vehicle models, and used vehicle makes are most important to your dealership. There’s no way to put together a proper keyword strategy without having an understanding of the individual dealership’s competitive landscape. Only the dealer knows this information. Any vendor can make an educated guess, but you know your competition and opportunities better than anyone.

 

Do They Employ Inbound Link Strategies to Enhance Rankings?

Links are not dead. Automated and low-quality links are dead. That happened last April with the Penguin update when some dealers saw their rankings drop quickly.

Google and Bing both still give a lot of weight to inbound links. The difference now is that quality greatly trumps quantity. In fact, Google is making it detrimental to have low-quality links pointing to you. Employing a content-centric link-building system is the best way to make a positive impact on your search rankings. Without links, content alone does not have the power necessary to achieve the more challenging “money keywords” that are based on your make and/or model and city. You won’t be able to rank at the top for terms like “Milwaukee Chevrolet Dealers” with content alone.

 

Do They Rank Well With Their Own Sites?

A great chef cooks well at home as well as at the restaurant. It’s a shame that so many claim to have the best automotive SEO available without having the ability to get their own sites ranked for terms like “automotive SEO”. How does that make any sense?

Do some searches pertaining to keywords the prospective vendor would hold important. If they are truly good at SEO, they will certainly apply their techniques on their own websites. If they can’t get their own websites ranked well, how are they supposed to help their clients reach the top. After all, “automotive SEO” is a much more challenging keyword than “Milwaukee Chevrolet Dealers”.

Again, automotive SEO isn’t hard. It requires effort, proper strategies, and the ability to keep up with the rapid changes that are happening at Google and Bing. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your rankings, it’s time to find other options. Once you have those options gathered, ask these five questions. The answers will help you determine whether they’ll be able to get you higher rankings or if they’ll have your rankings tanking.

Comments

Inspect, inspect and inspect again. I often ask friends or family to search for a new or used car so I can watch how they search. Sometimes we try to optimize well for phrasing or keywords nobody outside Automotive uses.

Jan 12, 2013

Very nice post Richard. I agree with all 5 whole-heartedly, but I'll add one to the list.

Do they guarantee #1 rankings?

It's one of the biggest, and easiest to spot, red flags out there.

Jan 13, 2013

Comments 1 - 2 of 2

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Richard Valenta's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • Does Social Media Sell? A Harvard Professor Says No

    An interesting article published in the Harvard Business Review by a Harvard professor makes some claims that many would argue against. Senior Lecturer, Frank Cespedes, argues that social media doesn’t affect the bottom line for companies and, due to that, is a waste of time. Perhaps the most compelling reason for his conclusion is that the available metrics focus mainly on “likes, tweets, reviews, and click-through-rates…not cause-and-effect links between medium and market results.” Cespedes argues that services that sell followers and likes devalue most social media interaction in terms of data value. Read post

  • DMEautomotive Offering New Services to FCA US LLC MarketCenter

        DMEautomotive’s innovative mobile app, call management program and parts lead generation now available to Alpha Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep and RAM dealers Daytona Beach, FL – March 31, 2015 – DMEautomotive today announced that it is adding services to its long-standing relationship with the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) MarketCenter, an online marketplace designed for Alpha Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat and RAM dealers. DMEa has been offering services as a MarketCenter supplier for 9 years, through its Wholesale Parts Lead-generation program. Among its industry-leading marketing programs now available through MarketCenter are Driver Connect, the industry-leading, dealer-branded mobile app; and MasterCall, a highly effective inbound and outbound call-management program.   “We are proud to extend our long-standing relationship with FCA MarketCenter to include services that, in light of mobile’s skyrocketing popularity and the influx of incoming calls,...Read post

  • When Should You Kiss Your Customers?

    Yes--KISS your customers. Would they get freaked out? Perhaps... So, thankfully I am talking about KISS as the acronym. Go ahead and put your chapstick away. KISS Keep It Simple, Stupid. Now, I am not in love with the stupid part, but keeping it simple is necessary when talking to customers--especially customers looking to purchase a car. How many times have we potentially talked a customer out of a car because we sent an email with too much, overly complicated, overly specific information. OR we were on the phone with a customer and over-answered questions which introduced new, more complex questions. It is time to apply KISS to our connections and conversations with our customers. Here are some steps that will help guide your BDC or Internet Department towards the simple and effective way to communicate with your customers in an honest, transparent, and positive way. Use Scripts: There is always the discussion of whether scripts make your BDC sound….well s...Read post

  • Automotive Sales Could Grow 24% if Retail Experience Improved

      56% would buy more often if the dealership process was not so difficult New research from DrivingSales identifies how the growing gap between consumer expectations and the current automotive buying process is suppressing car sales volume   New York – March 31, 2015 – Automotive sales could grow up to 24% if the retail experience improves, according to key findings released today from a new research initiative from DrivingSales.  The DrivingSales Consumer Experience Study is based on a 16 month-long ethnographic and quantitative research initiative with over 1,300 shopper and buyers and looks at the rational and emotional factors that cause modern automotive shoppers to connect, or disconnect, with automotive dealers in the buying process.    “Yesterday’s formula for automotive retail success is deterring consumers and suppressing sales volume.  Our research shows the key to sales success today is building trust through an open and transparent customer experience a...Read post

  • Social Media, the Puppy

    My wife recently decided it was high time to get a pet dog for the family. I had been delaying this decision since my wife and I first moved in together (years and years ago). I just wasn’t ready for the responsibility. (And, on top of that, I’m allergic). Nonetheless, almost 15 years and two sons later, I acquiesced and began researching a suitable breed. Long story short, we decided upon a Havanese. We researched breeders, investigated, awaited a litter, and picked up our new puppy.  Cute as can be, I realize that this ball of hair will be essential to the growth and development of my children. But these first few weeks have been a lot of work. To tie this together, I was recently honored to have been hired by Jacuzzi corporate to speak at their International conference on the subject matters of lead management and process improvement. Even though I was the one to be dispensing knowledge onto the audience of franchise owners and manufacturer reps, I was able to walk away with m...Read post

  • Reviews...how much do they really help

    We really push getting reviews on  the sales side. We use Dealerrater and also push people to do reviews on google plus. We average about ten a week. We do the ocasional spiff for reviews but do not do it all of the time.   My question for the community is does this really help the dealership? We have a person that is responsikble for responding to every reciew....good or bad. We recently one dealer rater dealer of the year  for Florida (Hyundai).   I am also wandering if these have any seo value as well.   ...Read post

  • Why 24/7 is the Name of the Game for Dealer Chat

    As website communication tools go, chat has grown at the fastest rate of adoption on car dealer websites for years. It’s not new, but more dealers are embracing what chat can do for them to engage with people visiting their website. There are two primary reasons that it wasn’t a fad that died away like so many other website addons over the years. First, it is an ideal method of communication for the expanding number of people who prefer to use their phones for texting rather than calls. Our society is shifting towards testing as more people embrace it and chat is the closest thing to that type of communication available on a dealer’s website. Forms and emails do not have the real-time dialogue abilities that text and chat have. Scientific research has shown that many people avoid calling a dealership (or any business) as much as possible because they no longer possess the pacing control. With chat or texting, they determine when and how they reply. On the phone, it’s more d...Read post

  • Basic Principles of Landing Pages

    In the broadest sense of the term, landing pages refer to whatever pages on a website you are sending a potential shopper.  Typically, the traffic to landing pages comes from some form of marketing such as blogs or social media.  For landing pages that drive direct actions (conversions), a few key differences separate these pages from other pages on a dealership site. Conversion-driving landing pages tend to be a bit stripped down in comparison to a normal website page.  The goal with most marketing is to create a path or funnel for the customer to follow.  Having lots of other options on the page such as social media share buttons, or even site menus, can distract a user from that path. Landing page text tends to be simplistic, with a headline displaying a key benefit of whatever product or service is being sold along with some bullet points for details.  This is usually followed by a call to action.  Attention-getting call to action buttons help push shoppers in the right dir...Read post