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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Terrence Gordon

Terrence Gordon CEO / Founder

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Bad SEO Links = Bad SEO Rankings

We have all heard that Google is upping its game when it comes to screening out "spammy" SEO tactics. This includes content farms and link abuse.  Link abuse has been a cat and mouse game since Google incorporated external links as part of their ranking algorithm.  In the "old days", it was all about links, links, and more links.  The more links you had regardless of reciprocal (link trading), one way, three way, etc. the higher your rankings were.  It was simple.

Google got wiser and started devaluing links that were reciprocal and/or irrelevant.  They also got keener on other SEO spam tactics and started taking action. In 2005, BMW was booted off of Google's index and had their Page Rank dropped to 0 because of spammy doorway pages.  

Last month, JC Penny was caught with their pants down by Google for hiring a 3rd party "link farm" which was renting hundreds or thousands of links to boost JC Penny's rankings.  And just today, news broke that Overstock.com was encouraging college students to link to their website in exchange for a discount on their site.  Both practices are considered 'black hat", unnatural and unethical in Google's eyes.  The penalties range from a drop in existing rankings, to a boot from the index and a loss of Page Rank (as with BMW). 

The days of renting links, buying links and trading links are over.  It's just too risky to bet your URL's entire history and momentum.  Your site will gather links in time organically.  You can boost your Automotive SEO momentum by submitting to directories and including links in blogs and articles with anchor text in the link such as above.  Dealers should be focused on building high quality, keyword-rich content for their websites instead of spending money on renting or buying links from 3rd parties.  With proper automotive social marketing ,reputation management, and branding your links will come.

Content is still King when it comes to SEO, and from our perspective (and Google's) it will / should remain that way.  

JD Rucker
Great article, Terrence. We've been preaching high-quality, organic, non-reciprocal linking for a while. It's great to see others such as yourself and Pasch speaking up on the subject.
Jared Hamilton
Terrence (or anyone else) how do you recommend that dealers monitor their link building to insure it is being done properly? Its hard because google is so secretive and few dealers do their own link building so how are dealers to know if their vendor is doing appropriate SEO? Are there link monitoring programs that you recommend?
Brian Pasch
Jared, Dealers can avoid traps by not participating in the numerous emails scams from companies offering linking build schemes. Secondly, new content syndication tools will make it easier for dealers to create quality content and publish that content with proper backlinks. As I said a few years ago, dealers need to start adding content writers to their staff. They can also outsource content development but this is a skill that dealers need to be nimble in the marketplace. Dealers who utilizes blogs, social media, and automotive communities can publish content that drives traffic and links back to their main website.
Marc McGurren
I will be honest - as a dealer - no matter how smart we think we are - Google seems to be black magic to me. They are constantly changing their algorithms and I never can seem to be the best all the time. With that said - I believe in going to back to the basics - stuff that I know Google and search engines like - content (as Terrence and Brian said). If I can continue to have relevant content - I know I will be relevant to search engines as a dealer. It's just so tough to see one of my brands do so well in SEO whereas my other brands might not do as well and I am doing the exact same thing for that particular brand. Granted - there are many factors that go into that search (brand, competition, OEM, etc, etc) - but it still makes me pull out what little hair I have...or don't have. So - as dealers we get confused and unsure of what the best practices are out there. I talk to many dealers and they don't have a clue on how or what to do. My recommendation and cry to our industry is to go back and do the basics brilliantly. No matter how far up you are in search - if your processes stink - you are dead in the water. Once you have your inventory and processes moving forward - then move to look at ways to increase your brand awareness through SEO and SEM. Get your foundation. Then build up from there. SEO and SEM are HUGE and will continue to be - it's just frustrating at times sitting behind my desk....
Stacy Mueller
I think Brian hit the nail on the head with his closing statement: "Dealers who utilizes blogs, social media, and automotive communities can publish content that drives traffic and links back to their main website." We've noted quite a few gains in dealerships who utilize web content writers and social media staff.

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