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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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The Search Mentality: Why Being Ranked for Competitor Cities is So Important

JaredvilleGoogle takes a lot of heat in the tech world for being too powerful, potentially evil, and undoubtably ambitious. It comes with the territory; rarely can a company attain the level of complete domination within an industry the way that Google has owned search for years.

Bing is still valid as is Yahoo by default, but the reality is that the general population trusts Google results as an authority. Everyone has had seemingly-impossible-to-answer questions that have been instantly, almost magically answered by the Big G.

It's for this reason that ranking near the top for competitor cities is one of the highest value SEO goals a dealer and their SEO vendor can have. It's a core to KPA SEO. Here's why:

Let's say you have a competitor in Jaredville 30 miles to the north. The city is medium sized but the Miltsch Auto Group has the market cornered and they have the only Ford point in Jaredville. Just about everyone in town knows about Miltsch Ford.

When people want to buy a vehicle or have their Ford serviced, chances are they're going to search Google for "Miltsch Ford" or "Miltsch Auto Group". Those people aren't your targets. It's the people who do the search for "Jaredville Ford" or "Jaredville Ford Dealers" that you want.

Why? Because since they know all about Miltsch and may have even done business with them in the past, when they go to Google to search for "Jaredville Ford", they're looking for an alternative. They're looking for you or whatever dealer is ranked near the top for that search.

People trust Google's opinion and we ask it all the time without noticing. If you're in the top 5 (preferably #2, of course) for the terms "Jaredville Ford" and "Jaredville Ford Dealers" you have an opportunity to not only sell more cars but to also keep a deal from going to your competitor.

Defend your own backyard as much as possible. Once you're set in your own city, start going after your competitors. It's this type of strategy that will separate you from the other dealers in the area and can have a dramatic affect on your numbers as well as their numbers.

Brian Pasch
JD Geo-targeted SEO is very important as you outlined. I just wanted to add that a number of OEM's are now scanning dealer websites for pages that are optimized with content that includes cities outside their PMA. Specifically, in the example you gave, dealers are being told to remove city names that are in another franchisee's area of responsibility. So, on-page SEO tactics that cover other geo-areas are being shut down. I won't bother going into why this is silly but someone is telling OEM's that "search" is controllable while dealers can still buy radio, TV, and print ads that cross PMA lines. Go figure! So dealers need to have an off-site SEO strategy that can help them rank for cities in competitor markets. This takes a better SEO strategy and mousetrap that few companies can deliver because the majority of their SEO in focused on ON-Site SEO.
JD Rucker
Absolutely, Brian. This is the key separator between SEO companies in the automotive industry. Because there is such a strong desire by the OEMs to control their dealers' online, it's imperative that an offsite, social and content based strategy be employed. In many ways, the restrictions make it easier for dealers who partner with the right vendors like KPA and PCG.
Eric Miltsch
Nice one JD! What's the real issue at the OEM level? Is it a lack of understanding? Ignorance? or simply corporate talking heads playing political games due to the advertising ties with the traditional agencies involved? An off-page strategy is probably the best way to circumvent any OEM effort - good luck on them trying to figure that trail out. It puzzles me why the traditional media efforts can cross PMA lines while digital can't. Oh yea, and I like the sound of Miltsch Auto Group - someday:)
JD Rucker
At the OEM level, there are smarter people than me with all the information to make the right decisions about this stuff. Unfortunately, they're rarely the people at the top. I've spoken to several who "feel me" on the issue but can't convince policy makers.
Jeremy Alicandri
This is dangerous territory. Certain OEMs will issue advertising violations against dealers that use SEO to steal web traffic from other dealer's markets.

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