I hope you’ll enjoy this series of Q&As that will bring you answers to real questions posed by real dealers and dealership employees. I also hope you will also send me your questions – I’ll do my best to answer them simply and quickly.
My goal is to help you better understand the world of SEO and Online Reputation Management. Some answers may seem too simple, but the truth is that many people still feel like a fish out of water when it comes to using search and SEO to attract more customers and reduce marketing costs.
I believe that dealers are fully equipped to make Internet marketing decisions with the same ease that they make a decision to advertise on the radio or TV. And I want to simplify that decision process. I also firmly believe that your online search assets (SEO, online reputation, etc.) are the most important aspects of your Digital Dealership, which includes parts and service as well as sales.
Your Digital Dealership is the portal to your Brick and Mortar Dealerships – it is too important to ignore. Luckily, my beliefs are based on facts and real data.
Question # 1: “SEO is supposed to be free, why should I have to pay for it?” Honda Dealer, Louisiana
There is a difference between SEO and FREE organic search results. Unlike guaranteed pay-per-click positions, you will never get a bill from Google if they choose to place your dealer website on the 1st page of the consumer search results. It’s FREE! Yippee. However this organic placement is based on the relevancy of the site compared to key word search. For example, the search: ‘Honda Dealers Atlanta Georgia’ returns results for Honda Dealerships in Atlanta Georgia. To see how many results Google found for this key word search, just look in the right hand corner of the results page. You’ll see ‘Honda Dealers Atlanta Georgia’ has roughly 815,000 relevant listings according to Google – but here is the tricky part! There are only 10 results on the 1st page, and Google has literally returned 81,500 websites, online reviews, articles and documents for consumers to view. This means the cost of SEO is much less important than placement on the first page of results.
Understanding consumer habit is critical at this juncture. I assert that understanding consumer habit, not disbelieving it, will be the most important factor in your dealership’s success. The fact is that consumers rarely go to the second page of the search results, let alone the last! In fact, consumers are more likely to try new search words before they go to the second page. Achieving first page SEO placement is a flashing neon billboard directed at all of the consumers searching for your brand.
Now how do you compete with 815,000 search results? How do you get the Googles to choose your site over every other relevant choice?
SEO is the actual Search Engine Optimization done to your site by your web host or a third party SEO provider. The goal is to make your site appealing to the Googles. Some vendors are great at it and some…not so great. OK, SEO can actually be free, depending on your web host (there are a few web hosts who perform SEO for ‘free’ and they do it well enough). But most of you get very mediocre results from SEO and this is not a time for mediocrity! In a world where there are 815,000 relevant search results to a simple request of ‘Honda Dealers Atlanta Georgia’ you owe it to your Digital Dealership to seek the best and never settle for less. The good news about third party SEO companies is that they can optimize any site – it doesn’t matter who is the web host. This gives you quicker access to great results without having to reinvent your Digital Dealership.
With over 81,500 results just for one search term, isn’t it important that your dealership’s website be properly optimized in your city and in your closest competitors’ cities? Without professional optimization your dealership will be buried among tens of thousands of results – and you’ll miss that coveted first page placement.
Kim Orr - Vice President, eXtéresAUTO