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We have been using dealer.com as our website provider for the last couple years.  In October we upgraded our site from their V8 to their V9 Platform and since the upgrade we have seen a large drop in our organic traffic.  It has been 3 months since the site release, and while we have seen a slight increase in our organic traffic, it is no where near what it was before the upgrade.  After countless phone calls with dealer.com's support staff, the company still has yet to provide us with a solution to the issue.  They believe that the drop in organic traffic is not due to the upgrade (even thought the drop in traffic coincides with the launch date of the upgraded site). 

Our SEO provider (we do not do our SEO with dealer.com) believes the drop in organic traffic is largely related to the excessive use of H1 tags (Header1) in the code of the new template.  He believes that if these tags were changed to P1 tags (paragraph1) our organic traffic would return to what it was.  He says the header1 tags for words like "About Us", "Welcome", and "Inventory", dilute our important keywords like "Cadillac", "Buick", "GMC", and our town name.  Dealer.com does not agree that the H1 tags are negatively affecting our SEO, and since it is a templated site, they will not change the code to the P1 tags.  They believe our site had dropped in rank because of the hundreds of landing pages we created for towns in the area that have similar content, ex. "Hartford Cadillac", "Bridgeport Cadillac", "Enfield Cadillac", etc.

I'll admit I have a limited knowledge of SEO, but it has been my knowledge that having landing pages such as these helps to bring more traffic to our site.  In addition, Google has cataloged these pages, which our SEO provider says is a sign they do not think of them as duplicate content, and they should not negatively affect SEO.

In your opinions, are these landing pages negatively affecting our SEO?  Is the H1 tag problem the real issue?  Or, is dealer.com on track here and our SEO provider off base?

In the midst of this ongoing clash of opinions, our Internet Inquiries have dropped, and, in turn, our internet sales.  I am looking for a solution to help get our sales back to where they were, and, in the long term, increase them.  So, while considering both dealer.com and our SEO provider's analysis of the situation, I have also started looking at other website providers.  

Our dealership recently signed on with VinSolutions as our CRM tool, and now we are considering switching to their website as well.  Do you think this would be a wise decision?  I am concerned about the drop in traffic when we change website providers.  Are we better off sticking the course with dealer.com?  For those of you who are familiar with VinSolutions websites, are they a better alternative to dealer.com?  How is the site performance?

I really am looking forward to hearing some opinions outside of dealer.com, our SEO provider, and VinSolutions on this one! 

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A good friend who runs a digital ad agency reccomends DealerOn to all of his clients, it is far more customizable than dealer.com as far as SEO is concerned. I know they more than doubled one of their dealers organic leads using it.

Jackie

In September/October there was a change in Google search "rules" that impacted a number of sites with less organic traffic, depending on a series of cause/effect situations not related to the website.  It could have been related to this issue because I have not seen a site upgrade cause a significant change in traffic.

With that said, Google Webmaster Tools will have some answers on the "why" behind this dip.  Do you have a account for Webmaster Tools?  If so, you can send me the login credentials I could look and see if there were any noticeable problems.

Between Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools data, answers may be clearer...because you need to see which area dropped.

Brian 

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