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Today the Automotive SEO Study kicks off. Over 100 car dealers from the United States and Canada will depart for a 16-week adventure. In the past two weeks, interested dealers have been attending webinars and packing their digital luggage for the trip. The packing process was well defined so that they had the necessary digital garments to endure the voyage.
Part of that pre-travel process was to prepare their travel documents so that they would know where they started. We asked all members to print PDF snapshots of their Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Google Page One Rankings (GPOM), Google Places Analytics for their current website. Members created a free Google Docs account so that they could load the historical snapshots for safe keeping and later review.
It was sobering to witness the disruption that these requests created. Many members of the study worked at dealerships that never produced or viewed these types of reports. For some, the accountability was never setup so they start the study with zero history. I am pleased to say that the passionate members of the study have persevered. They are ready for travel; clothing and documents in hand.
It prompted me to share with DrivingSales.com readers what I documents they should load into Google Docs for their own dealership. By creating this discipline, dealers will be able to see their growth or decline in key digital marketing metrics.
Some readers may be thinking that I'm forgetting that Google Analytics or embedded analytics from your website vendor can show any historical range so there is no need to print static reports and upload them in Google Docs. They would be correct except that shit happens. A number of members commented that once they changed website vendors, historical data was lost. No one had the foresight to print historical reports before the cut-over.
We also had a few members who had unfortunate issues that wiped our historical data or analytics accounts that were owned and controlled by people that were now hostile to the dealership. My conclusion was to suggest a process that would avoid this pain and empower the dealer.
Every month, I suggest that dealers create a PDF report and in some cases, capture a screen to a JPG photo file, of important statistical data and load it into a free Google Docs account and ALSO print a paper copy and place them in a tabbed three ring binder. That may seem old-school until someone deletes you digital files.
The reports that you should print or screen capture are listed below. If you don't know how to capture what is on your screen to a file, there are many free utilities on the market. One of the nicest is called Jing from Techsmith. ( http://www.techsmith.com/jing/ ). Screen captures are needed because Webmaster Tools and Google Places do not yet have a print to PDF function for their summary data.
The monthly reports you should print and collect are:
Each one of these reports has some important data which can help assess the overall health of your dealership digital marketing strategies. This article is not designed to go over the data that is critical on these reports but an encouragement to start this type of monthly log.
If you are serious about improving the traffic, leads and sales for your dealership website you need these reports. I hope to continue this education process in future articles as well as at the DrivingSales Executive Summit in Las Vegas on October 18-20th. I hope to see you there.