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Last week at SXSW, we had the privilege of seeing some of the latest and greatest in search and social that was, quite frankly, a whirlwind of knowledge that we rarely experience at conferences. There's normally a good amount of information at conferences but the sheer bulk of usable data pertinent to the automotive industry made me wish at times that we brought more than 4 KPA people down to Austin.
With that said, there were tons of tidbits of data that I will be sharing over the coming weeks, but one of the most important came during Danny Sullivan's talk with Google's Matt Cutts and Bing's Duane Forrester. They covered so many points that it will require multiple blog posts to bring to light, but one reinforcement piece that struck me was the passion behind all three of these search giants when discussing 301 redirects.
In the automotive industry, it's hard to get vendors to create 301 redirects especially when converting from one website platform to another. The URL-naming-conventions from one provider to another differ greatly and changes can often lead to hundreds, even thousands of broken links. In the automotive industry, we very rarely notice them because it has become a standard amongst most vendors to create a custom-404 which either redirects to the homepage (example) or calls up a set page (example) such as inventory to present regardless of what the URL string was.
This is fine, but it's a bandaid. According to all three on the panel, getting your vendor to put in a 301-redirect when changes to a website are made is akin to asking someone for permission to cross the street. It's a no-brainer. It has to be done, particularly in an industry that is so reliant on search engine traffic.
We'll be discussing more of our takeaways from SXSW in the coming weeks, but cleaning up the basics will put your dealership website on the right track to success.