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Jared Hamilton
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Why Dealers Need Localized Non-Automotive Content on their Website

Local Car Show

Over the years, I've grown used to having debates. Sometimes, people will oppose my perspectives for the sake of debate. Other times, they will truly feel like things that I recommend are truly wrong. This piece will likely fall into the latter category.

It's ironic that I often tell dealers not to use social media for the sake of branding. Don't get me wrong - it's a great branding tool. However, if you utilize the right strategies and truly promote concepts on social media that will help you sell more cars, the branding will happen as a result. In other words, branding is a side effect of great social media, not a goal behind most campaigns.

The reason it's ironic is because of the content marketing premise I'm about to divulge. When comparing search and social in regards to content, most would assume that social media is the place where content can be used for branding and organic search is not really a branding tool per se. My view is the opposite. There are distinct advantages to branding through organic search that propel aggressive dealerships ahead of the competition.

Our industry always tends to view search as purely designed to drive business-relevant traffic. Every piece of content should be geared towards sales, service or any of the other important search terms that shoppers will type. This is all true to an extent, though not 100%. An aggressive strategy includes content designed to position the dealership in a positive light within the community and to take advantage of that through search.

This article cannot be long enough to go into sufficient detail about the strategy, so I'll resort to examples. Let's say your dealership supports a local charity. Building a page about that charity and optimizing it to rank for keywords associated to the charity can help in three ways:

  • It helps the charity itself by giving it exposure on a new channel.
  • Website visitors can see the page and get an understanding of how the dealership is involved in the community.
  • In search, the branding associated with ranking for keywords associated with the charity can get you positive PR.

As I've written in the past, it's not about bragging. You're not simply tooting your dealership's horn. By doing it with the right heart, you're continuing to help the charity and allowing the dealership to act as the community leader that it should be.

Let's look at another example. Let's say you have a locational branding challenge. People outside of your city know generally where you are, but aren't aware of your exact location. If you happen to be close to a place known by the generally community, posting content about that place can help you gain associating by proximity. In other words, you can be known as "the Hyundai dealership by the mall," for example.

Final example: local car shows. It kills me when I see that a dealership is supporting or even hosting local automotive events and they have no content on their website about it. Sure, they might have a banner that leads to a page with a couple of paragraphs and contact form, but the page often doesn't rank about a participant's Flickr post, let alone close to the top for searches about the event. This is not acceptable.

There are those who will disagree and I'll happily discuss it here on Driving Sales or directly if you'd prefer.

There's a difference between posting irrelevant content and posting content with a valid business purpose even if it's not directly associated with the dealership. It's an advanced strategy that should only be applied by those who have all of their basics covered, but if that's you, chances are you could benefit from this type of strategy.

Carl Maeda
Awesome post! Posting non-Automotive content gives your dealership an almost human element. Its' not just a business anymore but a cause and gives your dealership more personality. In this way, the dealership can gain a bigger following online (more likes, fans, etc) because they care about more than just selling cars.
Jason Stum
I like the way you think JD. I've recently become fond of the saying "All dealerships are the same, except for the people" and by creating content that shows off the human side of your organization (as @Carl mentioned above), you increase the likelyhood of building stronger positive sentiment about your dealership. To your point, on our company blog (http://familydealblog.com), we probably have a 50/50 split when it comes to content subject matter. We're just as keen to highlight our employees, community events and our local sports teams as we are the newest vehicle to come rolling into the showroom.
Chris K Leslie
I try to do about 50/50 as well for - http://heroautogroup.com
Grant Gooley
As much as I respect this post and totally agree with you, dealers still have a hard time ranking for brand relevant keywords. I suggest to roll out everything JD says in this post... AFTER you prioritize and execute a strategy on SEO that is relevant to the brand. Example: Used Cars *your City* Great post JD!
Megan Barto
Great post, JD - I've found that one of the most popular blog posts I put up at a dealership was a schedule of local 4th of July fireworks events!

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