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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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How can Dealers Discern Between Automotive SEO Pitches?

1957 Ferrari TRC Spider with the rare inline-4

You have two cars. They both have 4 wheels, a transmission, a four-cylinder engine, red paint, and a sporty feel to them. To someone just hearing about it and who didn't know much about cars, they might seem to be pretty much the same.

One is a 1957 Ferrari TRC Spider with the rare inline-4 and the other is a 1993 Geo Storm GSi. If someone knows nothing about cars, they might pick the latter since it's 36 years newer, but here on Driving Sales it's safe to say that everyone knows which one would go for $4 million at auction.

The problem with SEO in 2015 is that everyone is describing their product the same way. I was on a presentation last week when a prospect told me that our description of SEO matched with another company's. I know for certain that this particular company does very little in the way of actual SEO, but looking at the brochure they left and reading about it on their website made me feel like I just showed up at a party wearing the same outfit as someone else.

There are universal buzzwords being tossed around in our industry right now. Content. Links. Social signals. Schema.org. Unique title tags. The list is pretty long, just as the list of similarities between a Ferrari and a Geo Storm would be long. How can dealers discern?

Unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that there's really no way to truly differentiate unless quality is checked. If a dealer receiving a pitch for SEO doesn't closely examine the quality of the work being performed, there's no way to tell the difference between good SEO and bad SEO.

I know what you're thinking. All a dealer has to do is ask for examples of results. The work is only as important as the results, right? The sad reality is that every SEO or website company with more than 20 clients can come up with great examples of SEO prowess. There are plenty of dealers across the country that don't even have SEO but who are ranked well for their keywords.

If everyone has examples, we're back to having to judge the quality of the work. It's a pain because it means reading through content, testing that content out in searches on Google or Copyscape, and even asking for conversion numbers to see if the page was effective at actually driving leads.

Plenty of people have written about the questions one could ask their prospective SEO firm to see if they know what they're talking about, but I am going to go back to the beginning on this one and focus on getting examples of work. It's actually contrary to what many post, but there are a couple of dynamics at play here. First, most companies have someone on staff who can talk intelligently about SEO even if they aren't actually doing it right. Second, the "right" answer might not be so easily explained.

An example for the second dynamic at play would be looking at links. PageRank is dead, so that's no longer an indicator of the quality of the site. Page and domain authority are decent indicators, but even those are slow to update and don't always paint the right picture, particularly if a page is loaded with outbound links that dilute the effectiveness.

So, it comes down to the one universal truth that every great SEO service I've ever seen can hold as sacred: quality of content. Thankfully, you do have the ability to discern this because you can tell the difference between good content and bad content. There's really no such thing as "SEO content" anymore. If it's good for SEO, it will be a great read for a human as well.

Get examples. See what they're posting on your site as well as anything being posted offsite. If it's stuffed with keywords, sounds robotic, or generally makes you feel like rushing through to get to the end, it's probably poor content. If you can read it and get engaged with what's written, Google and Bing will likely like it as well.

It's not a perfect science, but there's an art to SEO as well. If it makes sense to you, it will make sense to the search engines.

Robert Karbaum
SEO is a hard thing to grade in terms of quality. It would be similar to judging if one magic elixir worked better than the other. There are so many ways to spin the data, that it is near impossible to determine which vendor performs better. If anyone is headed to NADA next week, make sure to ask these vendors the tough questions. Ask them for quantifiable data that shows their product working. Ask to see full analytics data to ensure the increase/decrease isn't being caused by something else. Claiming you are the best at SEO is no different than saying you have "The Best Coffee in Seattle" or the "Best Pizza in New York". Everyone says it, and there really is no easy way to prove them wrong.
Jeff Glackin
Thats exactly the point of the article Robert. We have a lot of vendors claiming to be the best, tailoring their "pitches" to talk the talk but fail to deliver the goods. Hiring an SEO is really about trust. A vendor could jump through every hoop you put them through and still in the end not deliver. If a vendor doesn't pass the simple indicators of quality that Tyson has provided you have now found a way to avoid the noise. Month to month agreements and no setup fees are another great indicator of the vendors confidence in their ability to maintain your satisfaction.
Paul Rushing
The determining factor for SEO success is pretty straightforward: Has organic traffic increased and have organic leads increased. Content, links, social mentions or any of the other factors do not matter. SERP rankings are immaterial, actual results are the only factor. If you cant show a client how you you are helping them generate more opportunities to sell more cars or service you are just participating in the Automotive SEO cash grab that is slowly moving to obsolescence.
Chris K Leslie
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Chris K Leslie
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