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The car business is insanely competitive, and dealers are starting to realize that if they're not doing SEO and social media, they're going to get left in the dust. Google is the elephant in the room - you've got to play by Google's rules or suffer the consequences of zero search engine traffic.
If Google were to give you a tool to track how your website was doing and what sort of visitors your site had, wouldn't you want to use it? It did, and it's called Google Analytics. If you're not using it, stop reading right now and go set it up.
What about a dashboard that would tell you if there were any problems on your website that alerted you to any performance issues? It's called Google Webmaster Tools... again, if you're not using it, go set it up.
What if Google gave you a tool that would allow you to completely and totally dominate your competition? We're talking about the proverbial silver bullet here, people... and it exists...
Hold on, hold on - I know what you're thinking. "Google+ is a ghost town" or "Google+ is a failure" - You're thinking that your customers aren't there, so there's no point.
If you haven't heard about it yet, Google personalizes search results. If you're logged in to Gmail or Google+, you'll see different search results based on your search history and the influence of your connections. +1s have a DIRECT influence on where a site appears on search results. If a single customer +1s your site, then your site will rank better in search results of anyone connected to that customer - as far out as second degree connections!
I'm going to type that out again, in bold - just to be sure you're getting it:
For the sake of this example, let's say that I was on your dealer website and gave it a +1. I have about 150 people that I email through Gmail, and I have 176 people in Google+ circles. Add those together, and Google has me logged at 226 connections. To make the math easier, let's round that down to 200. Also, for the sake of the example and easy math, let's say that each of my 200 connections has just 100 connections. Multiply my 200 connections by their 100 connections and you get 20,000... So my single +1 to your dealer website now results in your site getting ranked higher in the search results of 20,000 people!
I'm completely serious here. Even if your dealership only has a single customer who uses Gmail or Google+, you're still able to boost your rankings in thousands of potential searches.
Obviously, the user base for Google+ is still pretty low, so let's try another example for the naysayers out there. Let's assume that none of your website visitors use Google+, and that the user who clicks the +1 button only has 50 Gmail contacts. Let's also assume that those 50 contacts only have 50 contacts each. 50 times 50 gives us 2,500... so even in an example like this, you're still able to boost your rankings in potential searches from 2,500 users.
You do not have to have a Google+ business page to use a +1 button on your website - so I'm not suggesting that you jump in to another social network. In fact, you don't have to even use Gmail or Google+ at all - you just need to put the button on your dealer website so that customers who DO use Google can click the +1.
Also - There are companies out there that sell +1s. That's not what we're talking about here, so please don't misinterpret what I'm saying. Buying +1s is just like buying Facebook friends - they're fake and it's not going to do anything for you. I'm talking about legitimate +1 clicks from real people with real Google accounts that they actually use.
A final point: It's up to Google how powerful the +1 button will be in search rankings. The impact could be huge, or it might only change things slightly. Obviously, you're only going to rank higher in searches related to your business - so while you could potentially influence the results of 2,500 people, it isn't going to matter unless any of those users are in the market to buy a car. The important point here is that there is zero reason not to add the +1 button to your site. It requires almost no effort, and the potential gains are huge.
If you have any thoughts on +1 buttons or installing them on your dealer website, please leave a comment and we'll continue the discussion.
(this was originally posted over on AutoRevo's blog on 9-12-12)