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Brian Pasch

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online-parts-sales1In the past few months, I have been fielding calls from dealers who are looking for ways to increase revenue to offset declining car sales.

Car part sales and extended warranty sales seen to be the hot topic among the dealers that I communicate with. I've started a number of great projects to generate revenue from these two sources but part sales are so ripe, I just had to write about it.

For genuine manufacturer car part sales, it seems that only a few choices exist for car dealers who want to compete for online dollars. The car parts website platforms that are the most popular actually score very poorly from an SEO perspective.

When I compare these website platforms to what matters in Google they fail miserably in my opinion. This creates an amazing opportunity for dealers who create their own SEO compliant parts website pages or find a work around to these flawed databases.

One of the leading website platforms for car dealer parts websites is Trade Motion who creates "skins" for dealers and then drives parts searches to their own website database. I don't think dealers understand that buying into this model will always require them to use Google Adwords or SEM to drive traffic and sales. The offsite hosted inventory pages in Trade Motion will never generate natural search rankings for their own main parts website let alone allow them to compete nationally via organic search.

A case in point is a site called www.directhondaparts.com which uses the Trade Motion parts database. This site was chosen at random. As soon as you start searching for parts, you leave the site called www.directhondaparts.com and move to the Trade Motion website. For example, the page that lists 2005 Honda Accord Brake Pads is:

http://www.trademotion.com/partlocator/index.cfm?action=getLocator&siteid=214308&chapter=APG646&appSectionid=18&groupid=10006&subgroupid=62206&make=12&model=Accord&year=2005&catalogid=1

If you look at this long and convoluted URL it obviously is not associated with the sponsoring domain. It also does not comply with Google recommendations about simplifying dynamic URL strings or to utilize a clear set of sub-directory structures. You can read Google's recommendations in this PDF document:

http://www.paschconsulting.com/PDF/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

The reality is that all the page views associated with paying for a consumer via SEM to shop the parts database will never be associated with the car dealer's parts website domain. Only www.trademotion.com gets credit for the page views and time on site.

Better But Not Effective

Another example is www.infinitipartsonline.com which uses another version of Trade Motion's database platform, which is better but not ideal. The Infiniti 2007 FX35 brake pads come up as:

http://www.infinitipartsonline.com/partlocator/index.cfm?action=getJointLocator&siteid=214952&chapter=&sectionids=18,0&groupid=10006&subgroupid=62206&make=14&model=Fx35&year=2007&catalogid=1&displayCatalogid=0

In this example, the database pages are tied to the main URL but the length and composition of the URL is not designed to compete for organic search listings. In addition, the META description and HTML title for this page has nothing to do with 2007 FX35 brake parts. This is in violation of Google's SEO guidelines.

Here are the HTML tags that are on the page for 2007 Infiniti FX35 front brake pads, which are obviously just a generic tagging system:

<META name="description" content="A complete line of Infiniti parts & Infiniti Accessories. OEM Infiniti Parts and Aftermarket Performance Infiniti Parts">

<META name="KEYWORDS" content="NISMO, infiniti parts, infinity parts, Infiniti accessories, Infinity accessories, G35 coupe, G35 Sedan, G20 accessories, G20 performance, G35 performance, G35 parts, G20 parts, infiniti parts, infinity parts, nissan parts, nismo parts, G35 accessories ,performance parts, brake pros, stillen, stillen brakes, metal matrix, performance brakes, g35 brakes, g20 brakes, oem nissan parts, oem infiniti parts, oem infinity parts, wholesale nissan, wholesale infiniti, wholesale infinity, nissan, infiniti, infinity, g20, g35, fx35, fx45, g35, q45, i30, j30, qx4, 350z, 300zx, datsun, infiniti factory parts, infinity factory parts, m45, m35, m30, i35, infinity g35, infiniti g35, infiniti fx35, infiniti fx45, infinity fx35, infinity fx45">

Learning How to Compete

Dealers who want to compete nationally for parts sales need to create an SEO strategy that will build pages rankings and traffic that will not ONLY require SEM. Right now it seems like sites like www.parts.com have an inside track on what web architecture really drives organic sales results. The goods news for car dealers is that they will be having some competition very soon...the cat is out of the bag.

I've been studying parts websites for a while and have solutions to supplement the poor SEO design of many current automotive parts website platforms. If dealers are interested in building a better parts business on the Internet, they are encouraged to share best practices here. Dealers are also invited to give me a call to discuss how we can help better optimize their current efforts in selling parts online. I can be reached at 732-842-4720.

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