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Dealerships know they have to be first page ranked in the search engines, but many don't know how to get this accomplished. With the mindset of "I'll pay someone who knows and they can do it for me," they turn to search engine marketing companies. These companies are quick to set them up with pay-per-click and sponsored ad placement, landing pages and so-forth… they are also quick to send the dealership a hefty bill with the reminder, “you want to be first page ranked on Google, don’t you?!”

At the end of every month the dealership is delivered pretty reports that, in black and white, quantify their ROI for search engine marketing. They pay the marketing company for their well earned advertising. Everyone is happy.

Or are they?

Are marketing companies taking advantage of dealership's lack of knowledge on this subject? Can dealerships eliminate search engine marketing from their budget by being better informed? Are website companies doing their job with search engine optimization to increase a dealership’s organic search engine ranking?!?!

I came across a dealership recently that was paying $thousands on SEM. When I checked out their website, I saw that the dealership’s name wasn’t in the title bar (or in the source code!) And guess who the dealership was paying for their SEM?! The same company that built their website!

To be fair, some search engine marketing is necessary and there are companies doing a great job on SEM with the dealership’s best interests (and budget!) at heart.

Is anyone else out there upset that dealerships are getting taken advantage of with search engine marketing?

Tags: Car, Dealer, Engine, Marketing, Optimization, SEM, SEO, Search, Websites

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Copy cat! I guess great minds think alike. Why buy when you can rent faster, cheaper and have a guy like Ralph Paglia on the lease!!
Wow, THANK YOU!
This has been the most informative discussion for me personally in quite a while.
Opinions are nice,but the cold hard "how to" is very useful.
Why would you need knowledge when all of this outsourcing is available? Another good tool to use when trying to figure things out is http://google.com I heard that you can get a lot of answers on how things work there as well. But you can't take anything I say, I am just an uncredentialed car salesman and self taught SEO hack...

Paul Rushing - Believer in All Things Possible
912-266-1629 800-357-1793
http://ismintraining.com
http://drivingsales.com
Follow Me on Twitter
paul@parushing.com
Here is another good article on building local links and dominating local search results.

http://www.linkbuildingbestpractices.com/do-follow-tuesdays/auto-de...

Paul Rushing - Believer in All Things Possible
912-266-1629 800-357-1793
http://ismintraining.com
http://drivingsales.com
Follow Me on Twitter
paul@parushing.com
Here is another tip. Video search engine optimization seem to be a hot pitch these days. If you pay attention to the "meta data" when creating your videos and uploading them to various services it will be almost automatic seo for them.

Of course there are other things you can do to help optimize them but that is the most important part. That is how people can claim "instant video optimization". They supply the proper meta information to the file and the uploads for non competitive keywords like your market and brand.

With algorithmic changes to "smart search" the engines are moving towards providing relevant content options (blogs, images, and video in addition to your main foot printed website) for the surfer to chose from and the more levels of RELEVANT content you can provide tied into a web of links the more likely your content will win at the end of the day.

I'll add more to what Sarah commented later...

Paul Rushing - Believer in All Things Possible
912-266-1629 800-357-1793
http://ismintraining.com
http://drivingsales.com
Follow Me on Twitter
paul@parushing.com
"Have you ever wondered why Google is worth hundreds of billions of dollars? Or why a single click from Google can go for as high as $50? The reason is the precise targeting offered by search engine marketing.

Most ads try to club you over the head and beat you into submission. Search engine marketing is a completely different form of advertising because rather than trying to tell you what to do, the searcher requests to see the ads and views them as relevant to their wants, needs, and goals. Advertisers bid to show up where they are relevant. If they bid for irrelevant keywords they lose money on every click.

Would you rather hunt for customers, or make yourself available to customers hunting for you?

You can view how much Google's estimate of keyword value using this tool:
https://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox

For example, here is the estimated value for credit cards:
https://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox?save=save...

Enter some of your keywords here and see what Google thinks they are worth:

https://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox "

The above was sent to me by SEObook.com
best advertised, the best optimized site in the world means nothing if the surfer does not find what they are looking for.

For example when I just did a search for Jacksonville Dodge it shows a paid listing for http://www.gossettchryslerjeepdodge.com which is near Jacksonville TN in Memphis a legitimate listing if I was near there. The real deal is I am close to Jacksonville, FL about a 14 hour drive from there. No GEO targeting and a waste of money if it getting a ton of clicks from Jacksonville, FL. But it sure will increase traffic. Now if it is managed by a SEM vendor they can blame the website vendor for a poorly converting site. Here is your bill......

That is one of the biggest reasons dealers do not need to participate in SEM campaigns without knowing how to manage it themselves. Once they can do it themselves then they can hold an a vendor accountable and monitor the campaigns. The only reason to outsource that service is time management not because you do not know how to do it.
After just over 10 year of providing Search Visibility to car dealers, I agree with you completely. The method was different some year ago, but the goal remains the same.

Making a site visible to the search engines does not open a flood gate and pour traffic through the door. All it does is make it possible to for someone looking for your product in your area to find you. But that's a good thing!

Allowing the FOX to dominate the hen house is the first mistake most dealers make. In other words, letting a PPC (SEM) company also provide SEO is a huge mistake. PPC comes with a much higher price tag and profit margin. So it stands to reason that most (but not all) PPC companies would want the SEO to do poorly. Run from any company that says they do both.

Run from any company that is proud of winning organic terms like "car dealer atlanta". Car dealers need buyer terms. Those consist of your product in you geo area and nothing more.

75 to 80 percent of your traffic will comes from your name or some variation of it. Take great care to protect it. Yes - the first 5 words in the title tag are golden.

FLASH navigation can not be followed by Google or the rest. Hiding or tucking text on FLASH sites does not make Google happy (Google is 90 plus percent of your traffic.

Conversion is everything. Traffic without a way to convert it to leads is a waste of time. (A little self horn blowing): We hold 3 patents on 2 systems that convert traffic to leads in a huge way and help people who have left a site find their way back.

We don't do PPC but have had our systems on sites with just about every PPC company out there. Pick one that uses "your" website properly to land the traffic - not a landing page. There is one company that does that to perfection with site proxy. Because they do it the way Google wants it done and with Google's approval it is dynamite.

How important is SEO (Search Visibility)? If you are using websites with FLASH navigation, don't waste your money. If you are using site that are build on FRAMES (including hidden frames), don't waste your money. And the list goes on....

If you are on a stable, visible web platform, expect to increase your Visibility by up to 30 percent. But if you can't convert that traffic to anything, don't waste your money. Web visitors to a car dealer website to not equal leads.

Here's a final thought - being number one in the search engines is great for the ego - being number 7 is great for the bottom line. Anyone know why?

Steve
ScreenCrafters
---Here's a final thought - being number one in the search engines is great for the ego - being number 7 is great for the bottom line. Anyone know why?----

That is a debate that could go on for days. :p More importantly owning 1-50 for your main terms "dealership name, and brand/ market area" is most valuable.

Clicks on the lower serp entries usually means the surfer did not find what they were looking for in the titles or content above and would indicate that they are on a real quest for the information that you would provide them with.

Paul Rushing - Believer in All Things Possible
912-266-1629 800-357-1793
http://ismintraining.com
http://drivingsales.com
Follow Me on Twitter
paul@parushing.com
Let me first start off by stating that in order to have good search engine optimized (seo) your dealer website, starts with proper design. Your website needs to be user friendly, easy to navigate and have the toold in place to help you manager SEO.

Dealerships might think SEO is like brain surgery that only a few experts have mastered. There is a lot to it I will say that, and there are times you might want to employ an SEO firm or expert to help you optimize your site if you don't have a good tech driven Internet manager. Often outsourcing SEO is a costly solution that's not feasible for todays dealership Internet budget.

The good news is Search Engine Optimization doesn't have to be rocket science. There are quite a few things you can do on your own. I've found a few proven, and easy to do tips and techniques that will help people find your content and make it easy for Google and other engines to crawl (with search spiders) and index your site.

Here is a great easy to do guide...

Lead with good content.
1.) The number one tip for SEO!! Provide frequently updated content that people want to read. Change your vehicle specials weekly, and also the incoming links are key and if you can provide content that people will read and get something out of, there is a good chance they will link to that content.

Research your keywords.
2.)You can use a Keyword Suggestion Tool (Which you can find on the internet) or simply put yourself in the mindset of your target audience. Learn which terms people will search with and get those into your content and meta information. If you want to capture certain areas of your dealership business, use several keywords that describe your target marketing area

Provide a good, clear title.
3.) If SEO is important to you make sure you don't get fancy with the titles for your pages. Write titles that are clear and contain your keywords. Once you've got that title written, make sure it appears in your title tag as well as in your top level heading tags (h1) on your pages.

Don't use splash pages or Flash.
4.) Search engines like text. A Flash or image intro can block an engine's crawler right at your homepage. If you do use images, be sure to add keyword laden descriptions to your alt attributes. This is the biggest mistake just about everyone does, don't junk up your intro page with splash, flash or video

Use Robots.txt
5.)Make sure you provide a robots.txt file that will help tell crawlers what to index on your site. There are quite a few neat things you can do with your robots.txt file, so you might want to read up on them.here is a great page for sample Robots.txt files http://www.robotstxt.org/db.html

Code your pages with standard, clean markup.
6.) The cleaner your code the easier it is to crawl. Use markup as it is intended with the proper tags tied to the proper information. For example, place your headings with in heading tags, paragraphs within paragraph tags, etc. Another good idea is to move all your presentation into a CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) file. This makes your code lighter, faster and easier to index. If you dont know anything about code,this will be hard to learn, however like most dealerships....if you have a website support company, they can do this for you

Don't get tricky!
7.) Whatever you do, don't try to "trick or fool " your way into more traffic. Duplicate pages, hidden links and other less-than-honest techniques can get you seriously penalized and ruin any positive work you've done. I have heard of Google banning websites for too many violations

Be patient and don't forget the people!
8.)Search engines are constantly updating and re-indexing. It may take awhile after you've made some changes to see the results. DONT GIVE UP, keep working on your content and keep providing something that people find useful. Everything I mentioned needs to be updated daily, or weekly and you WILL climb.

It's easy to forget that the reason you want to optimize for search in the first place is that you want to bring people to your site and your content and have people find you, so it is worth the time and effort. If you read and study SEO you can do it yourself and save about $1,000 per month or more that the SEO companies charge, all by just following and mastering proven techniques.

My point in adding this discussion is that it will always be about selling vehicles,but you need to take the time in your dealership to make sure your technology is working for you and that includes SEO/SEM. I am a firm believer in "Why pay someone else" for this service when you can do it yourself and get more leads for your dealership. Be a student of the Internet not just a internet manager or salesman. Develop the know how and use the money you save elsewhere....

SEO = Leads = Sales
some SEO suggestions related to sarah's post - from "SEO for Video, or 'How Do I Get People To Watch My Videos'":

"As video content on the web continues to proliferate, getting your videos to stand out amidst the crowd is becoming an increasingly challenging task. One of the most important recent subjects of discussion regarding video online, is figuring out how to maximize your company’s placement in search engine results and rankings. To those readers new to search engine marketing terms and acronyms, the letters SEO stand for “search engine optimization” and the SEM equates to “search engine marketing”. You’ll commonly see and hear these terms thrown around quite a bit as companies clamor to find their way into viewer’s web browsers.

Here at Test Drive Videos we quickly learned that is isn’t as easy as posting your videos online, then telling people to go watch them. There is a myriad of essential steps you need to take to start the SEO and SEM process. I’m going to list the three basic steps we’ve learned are mandatory and effective in getting the ball rolling. I will also highlight some additional things you can do that are both free and highly effective.

1. Use Descriptive Naming of Your Video Source File. When you’re creating your video file and getting ready to deploy it to your site, e-newsletter or uploading to a web video sharing site, always name the file in a very exact and descriptive manner. For example: in the early stages of our company, we might have named a test drive video we produced “Ferrari_tdv_08.mov”. Where our internal naming convention might have made sense to us for easily managing files – to the outside world it means nothing and is more easily lost in the space. Therefore, a more useful title might be: “2008 Ferrari F430 Test Drive Video.mov”. This acts as kind of a surface level “tag” that will help search engines find your video.

2. Inserting HTML Tags on Your Site. Inserting html meta tags and head tags within each page that describe each video has long been the most important and basic task associated with web development and making your site visible and searchable online. Additionally, it is recommended that you let each video live on it’s own page of HTML and insert tags that describe what is in the video. One video per URL. It is also important to surround your video with relevant text about that video. Doesn’t hurt to tell viewers what they are about to see, and further helps the SEO initiative.

3. Initial Search Engine Submissions. Take the time to visit each of the top search engines and go through their process of submitting your website to be crawled, indexed, spidered, etc. Some are easier than others, but this is a crucial step in making sure you get found. Because Google more or less dominates the search engine arena (with approximately 67% of the traffic), and including the other top two (Yahoo and MSN), they encompass about 98.4% of the search engines traffic altogether. Plus, these major search engine directories are shared by many other smaller search engines, including Lycos, AlltheWeb, AltaVista, Excite, Go, Search, AOL, and many others. Once the major search engines have indexed your website, regular search engine submissions are no longer required. We also recommend a one-time manual application submission to dmoz.org. (DMOZ is The Open Directory Project - the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors.)

4. Bonus Tip! – Using Web Video Sharing as Free Advertising! Just because you’ve posted your video on your site doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t post that same video elsewhere. By taking advantage of one or more of the many free video sharing websites out there like YouTube, you can help spread your message and your video out across the web. Most of these sites have very robust description and tagging sections when you upload your video which will yield top results and can in return, be linked back to your site. We have had tremendous success in getting higher search results for some of our video content through the videos we’ve uploaded at these sharing and social networking sites. The top 5 video sharing sites that will except most any user-generated content for upload are: YouTube, GoogleVideo, Metacafe, AOLvideo and Revver. There are certainly dozens more, and every indication is that this market is going to continue to grow rapidly as the demand for video on the web continues to flourish.

These are just a few things you should do immediately after deploying your video for an online audience. They are by no means the complete answer as this new media world is changing by the week with new web video search technologies emerging that do things like actually scan the audio and video content to detect if what the descriptors say is in the video, is actually in the video. There are also many other high-level tricks to the trade such as embedding key tags in video Flash files which we hope to discuss at a future date. Thanks for reading and good luck! - E.T. Keeney"
This is great, practical advise.
Thanks all.

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