Notifications & Messages

Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
Hey - It’s time to join the thousands of other dealer professionals on DrivingSales. Create an account so you can get full access to the articles, discussions and people that are shaping the future of the automotive industry.
JD Rucker

JD Rucker Founder

Exclusive Blog Posts

Top 6 Things Car Dealers Do To Make Car Buying Difficult

Top 6 Things Car Dealers Do To Make Car Buying Difficult

[youtube] Your Turn To Drive discusses Top 6 Things Car Dealers Do To Make Car Buying Difficult.  Jim D…

Choose the correct CRM for your dealership OR pay dearly

Choose the correct CRM for your dealership OR pay dearly

With all the CRMs on the market today, finding the right one for your dealership is becoming more challenging than ever. There have been massive changes in…

5 Benefits of Using Google AdWords Click-to-Message Ad Extensions

5 Benefits of Using Google AdWords Click-to-Message Ad Extensions

Looking for a new way to win over people more likely to send a text message than to call? Set up this free message extension for your text ads on the Googl…

Must-See NADA 100 Expo Displays for Fixed Ops

Must-See NADA 100 Expo Displays for Fixed Ops

New Orleans is ramping up for the 100th anniversary of NADA, and the convention promises to be outstanding. You’ll be entertained at the NADA100 Carn…

Why Social Media Marketers Won’t Replace Your Sales Team

Why Social Media Marketers Won’t Replace Your Sales Team

Social media is changing the marketing profession in remarkable ways. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the social media analyti…

Links Still Matter for Automotive SEO


I had a debate with an automotive SEO buddy back last year about the validity of high-quality inbound links for the purpose of search engine optimization. He contended that great content on the website was enough to boost rankings substantially. I argued that Google and Bing still look at outside signals such as links to help them determine the authority and validity of the content.

A few months later, I received a phone call that confirmed it. The best part is that I didn't even have to do any research or testing on my own. He had set up a very clear and easily duplicated test to see who was correct.

Two cities. Two Honda dealers. On both websites, he wrote up long pieces (over 1000 words) of content on similar landing pages. All unique content, all perfectly worded for SEO (which today means not written for SEO at all but written for real readers instead).

In one city, he used my link-earning strategy that I showed him to get some love for the Civic page. In the other city, he did the link-earning for the Accord page. After two months, the linked pages dramatically outperformed the unlinked pages in rankings, traffic, and most importantly in leads generated.

But... Penguin

Any time I discuss links, I get hit with the Google Penguin argument. It's a valid one. The only fallacy in the argument is that Google did not penalize all links. They are going after the low-quality, purchased, or non-contextual links that many SEOs still use today. Those have been devalued and can actually do harm to your rankings.

On the other hand, high-quality contextual links on relevant sites denoting resource quality rather than pure SEO juicing have not only survived Penguin. They've flourished. My research before (and now my friend's research more recently) show that great links are actually more powerful today than they were before.

So, Links are Better than Content?

NO! Absolutely not. Content is definitely more important today than ever before and continues to increase in its necessity. There was a time in the past that you could take a blank white page with no content at all and link-bomb your way to getting it ranked for the term "White Bunny in a Snow Storm". Today, the content is a must.

Just like it is with offsite signals, onsite content that is high-quality, unique, relevant, and purposeful is absolutely necessary. The key is, of course, quality. No syndicated content. No "spun" content. No boilerplate content. No fluff content. Bring value and the content has the opportunity to shine.

Where do Links Fit In?

Offsite signals like inbound links are the validating components that Google and Bing use to determine whether or not one piece of content is better to serve than another. A great piece of content that truly tells something incredible and useful about a vehicle is not very different from a weak piece of content that talks about the same vehicle, at least in the eyes of Google. Semantic indexing allows them to understand algorithmically what a page is trying to talk about, but it's the credibility given to that content from offsite signals that lets the search engines know which piece of content to trust.

Think of the content as the engine and the offsite signals as the modifications done to improve the horsepower. You could line up a couple of Mustangs with 5.0L engines and race them. If the drivers are equal in skill and the conditions are right, they should finish the race very closely. It's a tossup. On the other hand, if you add headers, throttle bodies, and a cold-air kit to one, it should win the race easily.

That's what links do. They increase the ability for the content to get the ranking it deserves.

Then Why Doesn't Everyone Do It?

Inbound linking is not easy. Many have tried using link networks or other methods to "build" links, but the real strategy that works requires manual effort. You have to "earn" the links based upon quality content and networking with the right people.

Old-school link-building is dead. Today, the process is one that cannot be easily scaled. If one of the large website vendors tried to pay me a million bucks to get them an offsite signal strategy that they could implement to thousands of websites, I would have to pass. It's something that is unfortunately (or fortunately, from a certain perspective) very challenging to bring to the masses.

Using aggressive SEO strategies is not for every dealer. In many cases, it's not cost-effective. However, dealers who want to dominate in high-volume areas should take a closer look.

 Unlock all of the community & features  Join Now