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Jared Hamilton
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Why Blogging has Failed Most Dealers (and how to not fall into the 'most dealers' category)

Automotive Blogging

Most dealers have tried blogging at some point in the past. Some are still doing it today. Most dealers have failed at blogging. Some are still failing today. It's a trend that goes back to poor practices taught years ago that have somehow been perpetuated to the point that being like "most dealers" is a very bad thing.

Let's get all of the controversial points out of the way first. Blogging is NOT intended to create content that will rank in Google. I can hear the responses already being typed, but hear me out. Dealers should not want a blog post on their website to rank for important searches. That's where landing pages come into play. When people do a search for "2015 Toyota Camry Oregon" they are not trying to find a blog post about Toyota Camrys in the northwest. They're looking for inventory so you should be driving them to either a landing page that helps them get to the inventory or you should be driving them to the inventory itself.

You can and should, howver, blog about how the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid gets 680 miles on a single tank of gas. Within that blog post (which is not intended to rank on search engines for any important keywords) you can link to the inventory or landing pages that you do want to rank for important Camry keywords. This internal authoritative linking practice isn't just the most relevant way to do things from a search engine optimization perspective. It also happens to be the way that Google and Bing want you to improve your website through blogging.

A landing page has pertinent information for buyers and therefore is intended to rank for important search terms. A blog post has interesting, up-to-date news and opinions about thngs and is not intended to rank for car buying search terms. It can rank for things such as "Connecting Bluetooth in a 2015 Toyota Camry" but not for the buying terms.

Landing pages help convert. Blog posts help inform. They're both crucial for successfully driving shoppers to your website and must be used together. Alone, neither can be very effective for SEO.

There's another component. Just because you blog about something doesn't mean people are going to read it. It's for this reason that we tie in social media promotions and campaigns very closely with SEO. It's why the most successful at either search or social are almost always effective at both simultaneously. Search and social are tied together by content.

If you get exposure for your blog posts through social media, it helps the target pages such as landing pages or inventory to rank better. I could end up rambling about the entire strategy for several blog posts but I hope you get the basic point.

Now for the non-controversial stuff. Stop blogging with SEO in mind. Blog with readers in mind. Blog with the intention of bringing real value in the form of information, entertainment, or both through your blog posts and they will be much more successful. I think that few would be willing to deny this.

You're the expert. You're the authority about your particular brand in the local area. Help those who aren't authorities, namely the people who own or who want to own one of your vehicles. That's the point of blogging. When done in unison with landing pages and social media, blogging can be an incredible tool.

If you blog like the majority of dealers and vendors in our industry, you might be able to drive some traffic but it's not going to generate anything meaningful (such as a sale).

Manny Luna
Nice read JD, What audience are you wanting to talk to online is the key. At some point depending on the markets blogging does increase a dealers traffic and sales. If the user is looking for a car loan with bad credit in Ada, OK and they find helpful tips to buy a car, thats where a blog can work for a dealership. Dealers need to be blogging about a niche, like GMC Trucks or Looking for that First Car? Niche blogging with video works great! Great Post JD!
Carl Maeda
I agree. Good insights! This has so much long term value. If you write interesting posts, your reader-base will grow and the next time your reader is considering a vehicle purchase, you're already at the top of mind. In my opinion, blogging is about readers and gaining an audience.
Chris K Leslie
I totally agree with you JD. I knew going into building our blog http://heroautogroup.com that we weren't going to see lift and conversions coming from SEO traffic that might be siphoned away from our sales website. With that mindset we decided to build it as a resource for our employees. A place that they can go to and see the latest tv spots, pictures from events and news from the manufactures. Mixed in with some fun productivity and lifestyle content. There are opportunities where I am able to soft sell some things which is great too. I even created a subdomain that houses our entire groups inventory and now our BDC's lives are easier because they know exactly where to go to find what they want. Doing things this way we've been able to see what our teams like, don't like and so on. The difference I think for me is that I treat it like a real marketing channel though. For example I use mailchimp to send out newsletters to our staff each week. I watch open rates, CTR's etc. This helps me find the stuff that interests them so they can and will talk about it more. Each week our traffic goes up, shares of stories to peoples social channels goes up, open rates on newsletters goes up and conversations around the stores are increasing. To me thats what it's all about.
Manny Luna
Paid ads too Chris K Leslie? I like that:)
Jason Stum
THIS: "Stop blogging with SEO in mind. Blog with readers in mind." If your sole reason for blogging is #BecauseSEO you're missing the point.

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