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Over the past 10 years the digital marketing leaders in the Automotive business in Australia adapted very quickly to the need to have a sound website coupled with a strong online strategy and BDC.


The specific online strategy I want to focus on here is SEO.


It appears that now some have become tired of the difficulty and/or expense of having this done by an agency and have started to internalize this work. And in saying this, I am talking not a single franchise business but a multi-franchise dealership. The people they are looking for and possibly finding are either an industry SEO "expert" or someone that can write good content.


What I want to ask my ADM friends is, what are your thoughts on this? Is it a wise move in the long run? Or is it simply short term gain, long term pain..


Thanks in advance!

Tags: Content, SEO, management, strategy

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Replies to This ADM Discussion


There are new tools that can help dealers who have multiple franchise brands syndicate their content strategy and increase the SEO impact of the time that they spend developing content.  The bigger issue is a matter of strategy. 


Do car dealers have the knowledge to best direct their own SEO strategy?  The basics are well documented and dealers should be able to do all the basics themselves.  But what about when you want to go past the basics?


The next step is really a collaboration of dealer skills and consultant/vendor knowledge to create a customized SEO strategy for the dealership's local PMA.  It's not difficult if everyone leaves their ego at the door.


I love the idea of educating internal dealership staff but the practical issue is that high turn-over and limited funds for education often force dealers to rely more on vendors than they originally planned.


Don't abandon SEO but be careful of doing it alone.  Also, SEO should be PART of an overall digital marketing strategy so consider all the players that can add value in SEM, Social Media, and Website Design.


I don't really see a need for a SEO expert who only does SEO. The search engines are getting more and more sophisticated and these days they are pretty good at sniffing out what is really good relevant content and what is not regardless of what your SEO strategy is. What is needed is quality web developers who develop SEO friendly code paired with quality content creators who make content that people are genuinely interested in and someone to reach out and interact with your target audience through social media. If you have those three things you will do well in search engines.
Ted - I agree with you, the real focus should be on creating and publishing useful and relevant content, then let the search engines do what they do!



The real issue is content creation, publication, distribution and syndication... That is what will impact your dealership's various website's rankings on relevant SERP's.  A strong microsite strategy along with substantial content creation that happens every week... At least 10 articles a month is what it takes to do SEO right in 2011 and 2012.  You need a content creation strategy much more than spending money on "SEO"?!?!  The best move would be to hire a college educated writer for about $30K to $36K a year and have him/her generate an original article every day, 5 days a week.  Each article would be relevant to the community your store is located in, and the brands you sell... And would contain plenty of helpful links and anchor text connected to your dealerships eCommerce and Social Media web sites, accounts, profiles, pages, etc.


I recently did a VERY partial posting of videos, photos and experiences in Miami that is you do a Google search for "Automotive Leadership Roundtable" will showcase the SEO impact of relevant contact within 24 hours of being posted.

I think you all have touched on the reality of the topic that it is simply not writing content purely for SEO. It is a more complete strategy that needs to be implemented.


Website design is where I see most failures. Too complex and too "heavy" and difficult on the eye. Web design companies really need to seek expert advise from agencies specialising in automotive digital strategy during the build process to get the best possible result from the outset.


Social media is still under utilized in my part of the word as there still seems to be skepticism on what it can really do for me "today". Dealers want to sell cars today, not next week and that mentality still hampers many. High turnover rates of Sales Managers and Sales People ensure this continues.


I used a discussion board in the early 00's to get traction before social media became the trend, and had a good success rate. I gave the members of the forum what they wanted. Pictures of new models, colors, answered questions honestly etc. It wasn't specifically SEO, but as we have been saying it was part of an overall strategy.




To Ralph's point, while I work in this industry I did work as a contract content writer for a very large player in another vertical's (real estate) SEO efforts last year.  The writing was content relevant to the communities, and I was one of a team of contracted writers providing this service.  I had to be very disciplined, the content had to sit through review and approval, and it's nature was often short-lived (an article about a fair, or a school event, for example).  SO, if you're going to take this part on, do as Ralph suggests and hire someone just for this work.  I can tell you that my content was head-and-shoulders above what the real estate company got originally from its internal folks, and with turnover, etc. I would not dream of handing this job to anyone who would "share" time on it with other tasks at a dealership.
Short term pain, long term gain. A wise move in the long run for the right organization. For others moving in-house could well be a failure. For the right store/group more control, flexibility. You can launch an effort/campaign and often begin seeing the results in hours. As your group matures you become less and less intimidated by perceived complexities of a given project. Over time you can become your own strategist and develop a unique skill set that perfectly fits your organization. Begin every project, campaign, endeavor with the end result in mind. Here in the states we are familiar with New York cab drivers, they do not always take the most direct route to your destination. If you know the route yourself you have a better shot at keeping the fare down. Stay clear of gray or black strategies, insist your team plays by the rules. Focus on quality and don't be afraid to experiment, you may just stumble upon something new and innovative that works well for you. I am not discouraging using an outside vendor by any means. There are several excellent choices both in and out of our industry. If you have the right culture in your group and want to have a lot of fun, you may want to consider doing SEO in-house.

Hey Dean! This stuff isn`t rocket science my friend........ & don`t let any vendors tell you it is.

There`s a wealth of tools to enhance one`s SEO nowadays........... & alot of it`s FREE.

Two words....Relevant Content.


Write to me personally at if you`d like to further discuss some things.


Hope all`s well down under!~

Ken, I think the complexity comes with the number of makes.  I scoped SEO for the 14-make, three location, family-owned auto group I worked for, for example, and that's a rather interesting volume of work!

I have been rather disappointed in what appears to be the slow adoption by advertising agencies to do SEO, PPC, digital one-offs (push downs, etc.), email blasts, etc.  It's all advertising, really, so the argument is that these agencies should at least OFFER these services.  And do them well when they do them.

I'm always a fan of a dealer being as independent as they can COMMIT to being.  They can be their own agencies to do their buys a LOT easier, imho, than they can produce what is equivalent (in the case I sited) to the same content a small newspaper once did. 

Google reads your 'newspaper' (dealer site), checks back-links for perceived interest, videos passed around social media, etc., and ranks you accordingly.  SERP is the new result of Google's 'readership' contest, and the big gorilla judge in that is Google, of course.

SEO could be done anywhere weather in house or within an agency, if your concept/methodology is perfect.As we know lots of people claims that they know how to deal with the SEO but I'm a bit concerned about that how much people knows the "real money phrase" and link correlation ratio!

Dean, you can go up with your SEO market if you are well concerned about the latest changes and how to do quality on page/off-page works.For an example we know solid content is king for Google to get you the results, but if we take a close look most of real and big content providers got stuck by the Google panda algorithm(those websites downgraded/short time penalized by Google, identified as trash content provider,even some research websites).

Google will always give you a credit if your website is really valuable to the users and if you know the trick how to make the website valuable not only providing valuable contents/videos, but also button navigation,on page scores, bounce rates,space between contents and ads, ads placement etc.

Its seems..SEO is too simple, these days!Incredible!



One thing I see that everyone agrees upon is that regardless of your approach to managing an SEO strategy, "Easy" is not in the vocabulary when describing what needs to be done.  On the other hand, it iis neither "Rocket Science" nor beyond the ability of most dealers to hire the right resources, while enabling themselves to achieve SEO impact in a way that becomes a competitive advantage.  


Yes, the site designs and architecture of the websites used by dealers does matter, but it is simply less of an issue today than 5 years ago because most dealer website providers have improved their products relative to SEO requirements.   Also, as anyone who has followed my speaking appearances and articles over the last 12 years knows, I have been saying "one website is not enough" to dealers for at least that long!  Good content that delivers value to automotive consumers which is then published in the right places... is the bedrock foundation of a successful SEO strategy... Not site design, not title tag keyword stuffing nor any of the other "Get SEO Dominance Quick and Easy" by sending large checks to outside suppliers each month scams...


As one of the commenter's pointed out, Search Engines (ie; Google) have become much better at enhancing the experience of their users by mitigating and neutralizing the impact from SEO practitioners who try to circumvent the requirements and aspects of serving up good content.


An old phrase that has become more true than when it was first stated:

"Content is King"


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