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Paul Rushing

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Automotive Website Vendors From dealer websites vendors and automotive seo consultants to lot service companies there are many ways for a conflict of interest to exist. I have discussed this with several dealers and vendors and there does not appear to be a clear cut way to define a "conflict of interest" or even if there is one. Recently I was contacted by a dealer who wanted my company to provide them with the same level of search engine domminace that we have for a dealer group in their market area.  We refused to take them on as a client, the dealer (the one who contacted us) also carried the same brand as our current customer. We have three core product offerings - We refused to offer the first two products but were willing to accommodate them with our inventory distribution service.  My justification was our first two services are uniquely tailored to each client and they have paid for our market research and we would be creating an additional layer of internal competition where as our craigslist service is widely available.  If they bought it from somebody it may as well been us. In the search engines same brand same market dealers compete for many of the same keywords, the only thing that is unique to them is their name which is illustrated in the graph above.  There is a lot to for a dealer to gain with an effective search engine strategy. Traffic volume with dealers name Search traffic Excluding Dealers Name The traffic stats above shows that we have been able to deliver 42% of their search engine traffic based on non dealer name searches via search engines in a highly competitive market, fourteen same brand dealers within a fifty mile radius of our client.  So it would not be in the best interest of the current client. The increased traffic is indicative of our onsite and offsite optimization optimization efforts. Four Months Automotive SEO Results Their website traffic increased 46% and number of page views up almost 60% in just 5 months April 09 vs August 09, with a steady documented month over month increase since being retained late March 2009.  Not enough room here to break each month down. After discussing the situation with our current client they resoundingly affirmed our belief that it would be a conflict of interest for us to work with their same brand competitor in the same market area and the conversation even went down the path of all online marketing vendors. They stated that with "certain non unique "services" it does not matter ie lot service companies and force fed OEM products such as basic templated websites" but with custom services or products, ie custom websites, SEO, SEM, Social Media and reputation management, "to many conflicts of interest exist in the automotive industry" and it is not being openly discussed. In your opinion:
  1. Can a website provider ethically represent same brand same market dealers with their solutions on a custom level?
  2. Can a SEO / marketing consultant do the same?
  3. Can a search engine marketing firm ethically market the same combo, seeing how dealer would be bidding on the same search phrases?
  4. Are services such as lot service companies, CRM's and inventory distribution just as accountable if price points and service levels are the same?
  5. Should dealers demand a no compete?
What say you??
Paul Rushing 912-266-1629 www.ismintraining.com SEGA Systems, LLC "Without Traffic Everything Fails"
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