A Contrarian View of SEO for Dealers

Most blogs about the auto industry fall into one of two categories: those about cars and those about SEO. Recently, there has been a buzz about Search Engine Optimization, with good reason, as its is one of the fastest growing areas of marketing. SEO gives businesses a way to reach millions of potential customers, provide a valuable service, and do it in a cost effective manner: a few tweaks here, a couple of links there, and one is good to go. Except, that’s not really the case.

Auto dealers are in a highly competitive market, going after the same customers as manufacturers, classified sites, review sites, fan sites and other dealers. Most of these sites are older and more trusted. Many have more back links, more money, and a dedicated team of people to help the site rank highly. A dealer’s SEO efforts are often hindered by its web design firm because of a gratuitous use of frames for vehicle inventory, link strategies that help the web company more than the dealer, and poorly constructed URLs and titles. Finally, dealership link bait opportunities are rare.

I’ve seen how SEO growth happens, at my previous company am SEO genius took the company from showing up for a few results to first page (number two in this case) of every major word and phrase they targeted. It took a lot of time, effort, and tweaking to get there.

Getting good SE rankings is not easy and the cards are stacked against dealers. Dealers should make simple tweaks that yield good results, but ultimately they have something more powerful to create more business: current and past customers.

The Internet reduces the transmission costs of information, meaning that what your current, past or potential customer thinks about you can rapidly spread across the Internet to hundreds or thousands of other people. Blogs, tweets, review sites, and established auto sites give a single person a great ability to influence the buying behavior of others. How many people might read this review and stayed away from the dealership, or will flogs keep customers away?

Great service stories travel fast, people tell others on the net. Those stories will inspire new customers to go to your dealership. Great customer service is its own form of viral marketing.

SEO is useful, but customer service is better.

2 responses to “A Contrarian View of SEO for Dealers

  1. EJ,

    You are on to a core message here which I think comes down to the idea that while dealers do need an SEO strategy that works, they also need to recognize it is not the be-all-end-all of their Internet marketing. However, there are some aspects to SEO that are not fully recognized still in automotive, such as RSS Marketing.

    It has been interesting watching the SEO buzz escalate these past few months. Most providers seem concentrated on relevant content and link building, but no one is looking at RSS Marketing which is the turbo booster to SEO.


  2. Getting excellent SERPs for FRANCHISED dealers (at this hour) is very easy ….as long as it’s a Google SERP!. They’re easy because Google has made it easy AND because so few Dealers Sites are built well.

    I totally agree with Ryan, what good is SERP traffic if the “specials” page is EMPTY! (my pet peeve!!!)


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