What happens when you're using the same SEO/SEM provider as your competition?

Zach Klempf
Something I tend to come across more than I would like is when dealers are using (or forced to use) the same SEO/SEM service as their competition down the street. I find this to be a real problem that happens more often than you may think. If both your competition and you are selling the same vehicles (i.e. 2015 Ford Mustang), in the same city or nearby cities, whose side are they on? How can they promise both dealerships to rank highest on Google SERPs when they are competing with another dealer they directly service?How can you even trust a provider that is playing both sides of the fence? I recommend selecting a provider for SEO/SEM services that are not also servicing your competitors. Otherwise both of you could be taken to the cleaners. This is just one way marketing agencies are taking dealers to the cleaner. Have you come across this before? Do you honestly find it possible for a SEO/SEM provider to offer equal services to competing dealers while not cheating? I recently wrote an article on this topic at Dealer Solutions: http://www.dealersolutions.info/5-warning-signs-your-dealerships-online-marketing-provider-is-taking-you-to-the-cleaners/
Timothy Martell
SEO and SEM are different in this regard. First, there is no such thing as SEO anymore. So if your website provider, for example, is charging you for "SEO" fire them today. Most "SEO" that dealers are paying for is an automated process for manipulating meta data on a dealers website. This actually harms the dealer website and causes a drop in rankings. This means that the dealer would likely rank better without this so-called "SEO service." Many of us still discuss helping dealer websites rank from an SEO standpoint because it is the terminology dealers are used to hearing. But in truth, SEO or the practice of manipulating ranking results through trickery has been dead for several years now. Content marketing is the true methodology for achieving authority and rankings for your domain. If this is not the primary component of your "SEO provider's" service, then fire them today. Links are still very important, but without a solid content marketing strategy to work in conjunction with link-building, these efforts too will yield minimal results. To your point, Zach, SEO is a zero sum game. If your SEO provider is not providing exclusivity by brand, then there is a problem. There is only 1 first place winner in organic search. And the difference between position 1 and position 2 represents a 34% drop in click traffic. There is no getting around the need for exclusivity when it comes to this kind of service. SEM is a different story. The range in CTR is very small by percentage. But generally speaking, CTR will range from .5% to 2%. Also, the client ultimately dictates where they will "rank" in PPC listings based on the budget they assign to their keyword campaigns. Therefore, its OK to have the same company serve a competitor (as long as there is transparency about this fact). Key points in determining a provider should be: 1) Tangible ROI and transparent metrics explained to dealer 2) No contracts. Providers should work month to month, no exceptions. 3) Content marketing should be the basis for any strategy claiming to help achieve organic rankings and the content should be unique, quality and written in house in the USA. This means you should be able to copy and paste a line of text of any example pieces they've written into the google search bar and find only 1 result. This also means that it should be written for humans, not search engines. Another note. Avoid "one stop shops." It is impossible to be truly exceptional at everything. The larger you grow a company and its people, the less direct control the top execs have over quality as there become more and more touch points. As such, quality diminishes. For that reason, Wikimotive only does 3 things. SEO (via content marketing), Social Media Marketing, and Reputation Management. These are also the 3 most important criteria as cited by Google in their PQ rating index. Hope this helps!
Dealer Apex
Timothy when you say there is no such thing as SEO I disagree, but I don't disagree about content being king. A website provider should have a solid platform and an SEO strategy centered around content marketing relevant to what people searching for and SHOULD be different from your competitors. Having one company handling you and your competitor when it comes to SEO/SEM is foolish at best. But let's take it one step further, what about websites. How can a website provider take on your dealership and also your competitor and have your best interest in mind. Can't Happen! That leads me to factory sites, how can they have your best interest in mind and go out of your DMA against your competitor Again Does not Happen! This is happening everyday. I am a website provider and will not take on direct competitors. it's just not fair to my clients. There are many times that a direct competitor of my client reach out to me and I just flat turned them down. Getting back to Zach I would really dig into some numbers and have that company explain how they could service both. If after that conversation your gut is not on board look for different companies.
Timothy Martell
Dealer Apex. I don't agree with you on websites. The job of the website provider is to provide a professional grade product that gives the client the opportunity to compete. Its still the clients responsibility to make the most of that product and win. Why bother running races at daytona? Why not just hand out trophies to the best engineered car? Because the driver brings skill and x-factor to the equation. SEO is dead in that the purpose of true SEO is to manipulate via an exploit in the code of search algorithms. Any company trading on that today is doing so at the risk of their client. There are few remaining short cuts that really work, and the door get slammed shut on them at a faster and more frequent pace all the time. There is no "optimization" technique done by programming that can increase a ranking factor. Thats not how the search algorithm works today. Now certainly, if a bad site has lots of external signals that could influence rank and it was replaced with a better designed site, the rankings would increase, but its not the coding that drives the ranking. The coding gives you the clean platform that then allows you to spend on things like content marketing and social media that drive ranking signals. Chris, thats crazy. I know of a very big website provider that cut a check for over $100k when a 13 store group's internet director asked them what their SEO service consisted of and when they couldn't answer demanded a refund for every month they ever paid for their "SEO service".

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