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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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How are you, Thomas?  I have to say I have really enjoyed your contributions to ADM lately.  Very cool and very valuable.

This is an age-old debate.  Let's look at cost exclusively:

 

Let's assume both the internal SEO expert and the outsourced SEO expert are doing the exact same job. The internal expert requires a salary, employee taxes, health insurance, a desk, a phone, a computer HR resources, vacation days, sick days and 50% of the coffee your dealership stocks.  The outsourced expert requires a monthly payment - of which is negotiable. 

 

As an example, "a company I know" is providing SEO consulting, page building, content writing, reporting and more for $395 per month (less than $5k annually).  Good luck with that job posting on Craigslist ;) 

 

Key word would be "SAME" job, and, we tend to get what we pay for. At 400/mo it may be a bargain for what you get but do you get what you need?. Like ordering a pizza, some are good, some aren't so good but still a good value relative to what you pay. I don't eat Dominos but happen to think it is a great value. I know well the economicis of doing SEO inhouse and believe it is well worth the investment for those who commit to it.

@ Terrence... Its true fact...another point what I got from my past clients, that if you have your in house employees, then you have to feed them weather you have ups and downs on businesses....so if you have a vendor or agency, you dont have to worried for that situation.....you have crisis period, you can break the contract or turn off the campaign for while...

In matter of price...you can get seo services 200usd/mo, but you have to think, are you getting the right thing from a that kind of  services?.I do belongs to Indian seo company, we have clients from USA,UK,Canada, even we cant manage a good services/campaign within that budget..how could you expect a quality services from a American consultant/agency within that prices...curious to know...

"A man who stops advertising to save money, is like a man who stops the clock to save time."
                                                                          - Henry Ford

SEO is advertising, so I hear what you're saying about cost, Anirban, but cutting SEO should never be a consideration in any hard times.  Unfortunately, I suspect that a high number of dealers--and other businesses, to be fair--don't understand Ford's point, SEO or otherwise.

The cost of the SEO is all dependent upon the scope.  When I was with SEO, Inc., our services included a full website redevelopment (since we didn't build it) in order to clean up code, build static HTML pages, build links, directory submissions, reporting etc.  We wouldn't take anything less than $5k per month because of the size of the scope.  That is true SEO.  My second company, Nobis Interactive, had StubHub as an SEO client paying us $50k per month.  That required an entire team of content writers which we staffed, which goes to show you the cost consideration of in-house SEO vs. outsourcing.   


Automotive SEO is an anomaly.  I would venture to guess that 95% or more of automotive websites are "rented" and built upon a universal platform (such as ours), which are build SEO-friendly from the beginning.  So 50% of the job is already accomplished.  What comes next are the items everyone is speaking of here (content, link building, etc.).  So if we are talking about scope, the website vendors are the ones with the keys to the website and so SEO becomes a scalable formula - hence low cost.  

"So 50% of the job is already accomplished."...by getting a rented domain 50% SEO score..is done...I thought it would help not more than 15%, remaining 85% depends on content, information,user satisfaction and back links, at least most of the SEO's will make a debate on webmasterworld with your concept!...
I agree entirely with Mr. Ford and Mr. Shetterly. Putting SEO on the back burner when someone decides it is time to cut expenses is like inviting your competitors to have a Tent Sale Event in your parking lot while you regroup. Makes no sense whatsoever.

I can contribute to this topic from a bit of a unique position because I was the guy that came in-house two years ago to replace an outside agency.  We don't run a car dealership business but we are involved in the automotive industry.

 

I will start off by agreeing with some of the sediment I am hearing in this thread, that a dedicated SEO only person might not be the right solution.  But today most people involved in SEO have much broader skills and cover all of online marketing and some off-line stuff as well.

 

I can tell you that my coming on-board has made a world of difference on many fronts.  My time is split about 30% with one portion of the local business and the other 70% is spent on our North American Affiliate program.

 

The real risk and where the headaches tend to start is in choosing the right candidate to work in-house. Because online marketing and SEO are fairly new there is not a lot of existing knowledgeable for potential employers to work off of.  Do some basic research and learn a bit about search engine marketing and optimization so you can ask the right questions.  Also plan our your online strategy as much as possible with your existing staff and have your new hire fill in the blanks and the road-map.

 

Also I do agree that good content is a great place to start when you want to rank in the search engines.  I don't believe it is always enough, here is a good article on exactly that topic http://www.seomoz.org/blog/great-content-equals-great-rankings-righ...

 

Also as Dean mentions, social media is underused by most businesses but I especially see this in the automotive industry.  Most companies should be looking at a more holistic solution other that just SEO to help them win the search engine ranking war.

A lot of great stories that lend a lot of different perspectives on how different companies have interacted with SEO. I guess I'll add mine to the mix..

My company is a national provider of window tinting and auto detailing services both to dealerships and individuals (www.detailwiz.com).

Never thought much about online marketing until a company (which you probably heard of) called Citysearch picked us up and started us on an advertising package. The good news: Phone started ringing. Bad news: We got the bad end of the deal on misleading billing practice and eventually had to dispute $1000s of credit card charges (which we eventually won back).

At that point, the thinking was: "Lets get a real internet marketing company in here who can do better." We tried our hand with numerous SEO companies. We got some OK local results here and there, but nowhere than any of us would consider that competitive.

I would say the turning point is when we started doing SEO a little over a year ago with a different company. They changed the way we looked at things. Ranking on top of the search engines, they explained, was only the beginning. Creating a lasting asset was of greater importance. They explained how today SEO involves reaching out into blogs/social media, etc. They actually had relationships with some serious blog publishers that they got to link to us.

Check them out...

http://dealermarketing.com/bizdev/technology-solutions/2571-window-...

http://ecopreneurist.com/2012/01/15/window-tint-slash-business-cost...

The company is called WebiFusion (http://www.webifusion.com). They started doing things like that for us that other companies NEVER talked about. About 2 months ago, we started ranking consistently in the top 4 sites on Google for "Window Tinting" (of sites that show nationally). It took almost a year of SEO to get there, but now we noticed a lot more people recognizing the Detail Wiz brand. Traffic to the site is up a lot. We're ranking in a lot of places locally on top of that.

My advice: Be patient. It might seem like you're doing all the wrong things, but if you keep trying, and stay persistent, you'll find a combination that will really work. (Just like hiring at any other position, right?)

When you finally have a marketing strategy that is working in place, it can seem like all the futile attempts never happened.

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