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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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TK Carsites

TK Carsites

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Automotive SEO: Tracking Your Competitors

Perhaps the biggest mistake that dealers and their automotive SEO vendors make when tracking their results is to focus solely on your own websites. Knowing where you stand is important, but knowing where your competitors stand can influence your strategy and help you make decisions about what to attack, what to defend, and what to leave alone.

Unlike pay-per-click marketing, SEO is not an unlimited endeavor. With PPC, a dealer can target hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of different variations of keywords. This is because your only limits in PPC are budget and relevance. If you are willing to spend enough money and focus on keywords that are low-bounce and relevant, you have no concern over search volume for a keyword. In other words, you can throw in keywords that 5, 3, or even 0 people search for in a given month because if the keyword gets no clicks, technically you don't have to pay for it.

In SEO, you have to be more focused and strategic. You must go after bulk keywords, but you have to prioritize regarding which to point your focus. In SEO, the "juice" that you can throw at various keywords is finite. To try to optimize for too many keywords results in not successfully optimizing very many of them at all.

Whether you do it manually or using software, watching your competitors moving up or down in particular searches can help you identify the right automotive SEO strategy. Below are some tips that you can use that have helped make TK Carsites' clients successful:

Identify Your Threats with a Standard "Health Check"

Automotive SEO Health Check

While most (if not all) automated SEO evaluation programs are limited in their ability to create actionable data, there are come basic factors that you can check to find the obvious threats.

  • - SEO Quality Score: While more scoring systems are flawed, they can give you a basic overview of how you and your competitors MAY be doing. There are no tools that can give you the full and accurate picture you need, they can help you by pointing you in the right direction.
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  • - PageRank: Google has made it clear that PageRank (PR) is an indicator that in and of itself cannot determine who should rank or who shouldn't. With that said, most SEO firms still look at PageRank as one of the factors. You can check the PageRank of your site and those of your competitors through various PR checking websites. There are also Google toolbar options (particularly on Firefox and Chrome) that will check every page that you visit.
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  • - Indexed Pages: Do NOT fall into the trap that more is necessarily better. Having hundreds of spammy indexed pages circulating through your website will do more harm than good. Still, it's an important factor and can give you at least a little understanding of where your competitors stand.
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  • - Backlinks: Every time a website links to your website, it loosely counts as a "vote" in the eyes of a search engine. Quality is more important than quantity, so having 2000 links may not be as meaningful or effective as 5-10 high-quality links.

You Versus Your Competitors' Rankings

Diligence is the key to successfully staying on top once you get there. The search engines, particularly Google, can turn on a dime and send the rankings into flux. You may feel safe one day, then less than a months later a competitor is ahead of you.

You versus your competitor

Whether utilizing software or doing it manually, you can see moves being made that could turn into a threat.  The software above is one that we use to keep tabs on our clients' rankings as well as their competitors rankings.

It can be done without software but can be very time-consuming.

* * *

In the next post, we will take this topic further and discuss why it's important to track competitors and what you can do to have a positive influence on your own rankings.

Brian Pasch
@Richard Great post and a topic that is not discussed on public forums that frequently. TK CarSites is once again showing their thought leadership in Automotive SEO.
Jared Hamilton
Richard, excellent educational information here. Thanks so much for taking the time to help and teach us all. j

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