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Automotive Website Companies Are Rolling The Dice With SEO

There is an alarming trend that I have been noticing over the past six months; automotive website platform providers are upgrading dealer websites and wiping out all their hard earned SEO work.

Website companies are rolling the dice and gambling with the hard work that drives organic traffic to dealership websites.   Blogs are not moved, custom pages are erased, and structural tags are all gone. 


There are two situations causing this alarm.  The first is an upgrade to an existing client website. A new version of the website software wipes out all the page titles and META descriptions on old website pages, and sets the tags to some "default" text.


This is poor planning and sloppy implementation that can be avoided.  However, what I am seeing is that the actions companies are taking make me believe that they no longer care about SEO.   This is a disturbing trend. 


The second case, is when a dealer changes website platforms, and none of the "common" pages have the tagging that the old website had in place.   There are at least 20 common pages on all dealership website, which coincidentally are also the most used pages like "Used Car Inventory", "Specials","About Us", and "Hours and Directions". 


In most cases that I have seen, all of the "Geo-Targeting" that was created on old website pages, is gone.  It appears that vendors are not respecting the significant time and money that has been invested on organic optimization. 


SEO Is Alive And Well


If you have noticed, I have not contributed many articles  on Automotive SEO in the past year.  Frankly, since everyone claims to be an Automotive SEO expert today, the marketplace was getting too noisy for me and so I moved on to other important topics. 


So, I've taken my latest  SEO techniques and strategies and applied them to our clients. Some clients have even commented that they like the fact that I'm not sharing as often, which of course is the double-edge sword that educators face all the time. How much should you share when your clients want to stay ahead of the competition?


My silence in no way should be construed as complacency about the need for SEO.  The team of content writers, social media strategists, and SEO technicians at PCG Digital Marketing are making new inroads into organic search marketing strategy.  The results in recent months have given me a reason to write about SEO once again. 


With that said, I feel that my recent silence may be responsible, in some ways, to this trend of website companies ignoring SEO basics.  I am seeing a big drop-off in organic positioning for non-branded keywords, after site cutovers. 


When I look into the reasons, it is often this lack of planning during a website cutover.  If your dealership has recently gone through a website upgrade or changed providers, you need to check your site carefully.


Managed SEO vs 'Set It And Forget It' SEO


One of my team members got a frantic call from a former client that decided to go with a "cheaper" SEO solution.  They were panicking that their organic traffic had dropped.   After a few minutes of questioning, it was revealed that they recently went through a website upgrade and all customization was lost.

The dealer was furious that their provider's $______ a month service would not have informed them of this classic error.  They came to the age old realization: You get what you pay for!  

Today's SEO strategies are built on original content, social media engagement, and localized strategy.  It takes real people to do the work each month, and not software algorithms that occasionally change keywords and page titles. 

So, members of this community who are going through a website upgrade soon or who are about to change website platforms, make sure that their is an SEO contingency plan in place.

If you are looking for the latest SEO and Social Media strategies that are generating high quality organic traffic, I invite you to join me in Philadelphia, May 14-16th at the 4th Annual Automotive Boot Camp.  I hope to see you and your team there to discuss SEO strategy.

Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Consulting






Views: 952

Tags: adm, seo, website


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Comment by Jim Canto on April 8, 2013 at 2:28pm

Oh yes.. "Managed SEO"... which some vendors dare call their program of concatenating database fields into page-level meta data. And, when I had access to the meta data for our site, I could instantly see the primitive approach and lack of attention or customization. As I checked on the pages two and three months later, I could see they had never been touched. The original concatenation was still in place...very generic...yet we were being charged monthly for "Managed SEO." 

Comment by Robert M. Taylor on April 8, 2013 at 2:13pm

My follow up email addressed the part about "not wanting to send them down the street to another related property where they could lose them." So great, let's not show any prospective buyers the dealership's service department, because we might lose them as a buyer. Wrong! Your buyer is going to check out your service dept whether you make it easier or harder for them to get that information. Same thing applies to how your prospective buyer is going to find your Facebook page to see how many recommendations your dealership has and what others are saying, hopefully as your dealership advocates.

Comment by Robert M. Taylor on April 8, 2013 at 2:08pm

Here's the website provider's rationale:

For the new _______ designs they are restricting the use of these buttons in the header.  They will only allow the +1 or Like button.

  • ·  Google +1 and Facebook Like Buttons
  • ·  Social Media Logos (that link to a social property)
  • The pre-approved position is in the upper right hand corner as built into the new design templates
  • Rationale: Allows the dealer to prominently garner social credibility without directing customers off of their site 
  • Not approved for use in the header, the approved position is built into the template in the footer. The slideshow can be utilized as well.
  • Rationale: The website is a digital showroom, we wouldn't want a user going to the showroom just to send them down the street to another related property where we could lose them. These links can be a distraction that turns shoppers into browsers. The goal is to convert the shopper into a lead/ opportunity.
Comment by Brian Pasch on April 8, 2013 at 2:07pm


There are two camps about social media icon placement from what I can determine.  

The one says:

- Why would dealers want consumers to jump off your website to a social media site after you have invested in getting them to your site?

The second camp says:

- Silly Rabbit! Consumers are going to do what they want and dealers should be ashamed to think that removing icons will stop them.

My personal surfing experience says that I don't use icons unless I plan to share a page. The icons don't impact my focus on the website at hand.

That said, dealers and their website providers need to have a better dialogue on best practice and what impacts conversion and engagement. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 8, 2013 at 2:03pm

Robert, that's another issue I have as well.

Your website designer / provider should be providing you with a list of logical reasons in collateral placement. It should be tested in order to fully understand conversion power / usability. There are plenty of techniques out there, but the most common is A/B, Split and Multivariate testing, which you can pretty much get done through a number of 3rd party SaaS providers. You're point is valid, if a user-base is used to seeing social interactions in a spot that has converted well, there's no reason to change it, unless there is a damn good reason, based upon logic.

Comment by Robert M. Taylor on April 8, 2013 at 1:59pm

Also noticing that when the dealer website provider updated with a newer version of the website, the social media icons can no longer be located in the banner area, at the top of the page. Instead, they are located in a nearly invisible area along the bottom of the page. It's a bit of an odd strategy when the dealer, who has built an audience and is engaging at the local level via their Fb page, suddenly can't have it readily linked from their website. The dealer hasn't made this choice, the website provider has. But then when you go check the provider's website, lo and behold, there are the social media icons, in color, at the top of their website. It's a priority for them, but not their clients?

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 8, 2013 at 1:49pm

Good article! This type of stuff is my cup of tea.

"Today's SEO strategies are built on original content, social media engagement, and localized strategy.  It takes real people to do the work each month, and not software algorithms that occasionally change keywords and page titles." -- That nailed it, in a nutshell that's the problem. Dealerships don't want to pay for it, most of them fail to recognize the importance of it.

It's amazing to see dealerships, as you've mentioned, pull the switch and not give a damn or taking into consideration content that ranks well (especially evergreen content). It's actually somewhat of a joke. If switching website providers is compulsory, have a game plan for understanding what's converting. Set up 301 redirects at the very least (at least Googlebot will respect it).

Yes, SEO is alive, but it's going to drastically change (if it already hasn't). I'd rather it be termed Search Content Marketing.

SEO of any kind is pursued by gaming the system. There is nothing “natural” about any form of SEO. The fundamental concept of SEO is exploiting a flaw in a search engine’s ranking algorithm. The difference between white and black hat tactics is merely a function of where Google decides to draw a line, and this line is at least somewhat arbitraryGoogle's goal is to confuse search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and to uncover aggressive SEO techniques through delaying, or obfuscating results from SEO changes being made.

The more I hear the term "expert"; the more I want to cringe and vomit. Use best practices, especially the practices that you've mentioned: original, informative content, social media marketing and signals, localization strategy and quality inbound links.

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