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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 tools 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 is a great page for sample Robots.txt files

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

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Great article Tim, very informative.
What's your opinion on SEM/PPC for dealerships, is it a must have?

You are absolutely right on....Your piece is informative and extremely helpful.



I am a huge advocate of SEM. After many studies the claims are that most people 71% do not look at the PPC side of the search and concentrate on the first few sites that come up on the SEO. I dont know if I buy that, however I do think that if you are positioned high on SEO and PPC you cover both angles and all customers. We have been successful more on the PPC side for fixed operation parts. Also PPC can be very costly because in reality you are bidding on position and can pay a arm and a leg per click lead. You also run the risk of paying for people that click by mistake just to see and dont stay on site. Be careful on PPC
Now that is an article you can take to the bank all day long. Very nice Job Tim


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