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Jared Hamilton
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Brian Pasch

Brian Pasch CEO

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Safeguard Your Digital Travel Documents

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.

No Digital Accountability

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 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.

What You Should Be Storing

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. ( ).  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:

  • Google Analytics (last 120 days)
  • Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard Screen
  • Google Webmaster Tools Link Report
  • Google Places Analytics Screens (You may need 2 screen shots)
  • Google Page One search results for a search on your exact dealership name
  • Website Grader Report
  • Google Adwords Campaign Report
  • Website Vendor Analytics Report


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.


Gary May
Great @Brian! One of the greatest parts of what you and we do around a great volume of digital data and information is simply the basics. You yourself have taken on a monumental task in this SEO study, although you'll also have a great benefit at the end. Everyone, Brian brings up such a great level of needed awareness here. We're so attached to real-time and everything digital today, that it's important to remember some of the classic ways to keep data. Both ignorance and blind faith sometimes lead us down an undesired path. Do what you can to prevent being a victim, whether intentional or unintentional. Measurement is such a beautiful thing when you have all of the tools and data. The other part of data collection is review. That means with your vendors. We continually hear about incorrect data being fed to dealers. If you're not sure, ask questions. And ask someone outside of the dealer that's not a vendor as well. You might be surprised what you find! Data storage is going to be more and more important going forward. As Brian points out, it's a process. Make sure you take the article above to heart. It's just great insight! Gary May IM@CS

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