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This blog post was inspired by Tony Rhoades today, when he commented on a blog post about ZMOT saying "By the way what is SEO again?".


If you have been following industry chatter lately, few articles have been written about the current state of Automotive SEO strategies.  


I think that is why Tony made that comment.....SEO was once a hot topic.


Who moved the SEO Cheese?


JD Rucker and Ralph Paglia share in my vigilance to keep our industry up to date with the latest SEO strategies to leverage non-paid search listings.


So, is SEO dead?  The answer is no.  Year 2005 Automotive SEO strategies are just not as relevant and need to be refreshed.


If you have been reading the latest digital marketing articles, keeping up with Google has never been harder.  In the past few months Google has introduced the Google Plus One Button, Freshness Scoring, Google+ for businesses, Changed Sitelinks, and has reformatted the way Google Places is displayed.


Change in Google Search Strategy is Constant



Five years ago, most automotive website vendors did not buy into Google's recommendations for unique Page Titles, META Descriptions, and intelligent URL naming conventions for dynamic pages.  


Today, the Top 10 website platforms all have compliant architecture that is easily updated to maximize search visibility. 


Three years ago, page one organic search results were once an easy open field for microsites, press releases, videos, and blog posts.  


Today, Google Places has become a dominant Page One force, above the fold, that has reduced the real estate available for SEO strategies.


The screen example to the right shows how much real estate on Page One is given to Google Places for a search phrase like "NY Honda Dealers".


Three years ago dealers just started to embrace social media. Today Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels are appearing on Page One search results for searches on a dealership name automatically.  


The overall goals of SEO have not changed, the tools that we have at our disposal has increased and social relevance has been introduced.


Let me be clear that microsites, videos, blog posts, and press releases still can appear on Page One for targeted keywords.   However, relevance, social connectivity, and conversion needs to be the focus of all these content publishing efforts.


SEO Is Still About Page One Results



So in many ways, Automotive SEO today is more about managing the total results of Page One SERP results which was the foundation for the discussion on POD Score or Page One Defense.  


Today, the positioning of Google Places in the list of local dealers is still influenced by traditional SEO.  So the organic results are still heavily weighted by updated SEO strategies.


Dealers should start to see how POD Score and Automotive ZMOT tie together. Dealers that have a strong Page One Defense for important keywords increase the potential connections during the Zero Moment of Truth research cycle.   Google says that consumers are influenced by over 18 digital assets prior to contacting the dealership. 


Dealers can't know in advance which digital assets a consumer will connect with so they should be providing multiple choice paths that include: videos, blogs, social media, content syndication, microsites, and of course a strong website.


An SEO specialist also has to advise dealers about their online reputation because of the frequency that review websites appear for searches on their name.  Bad reviews impact consumers during the Zero Moment of Truth so dealers need to have a multi-platform approach to collecting customer reviews.


Google +1 Button Is Effectively Social SEO


The Google +1 button has an very influential role in making most digital assets POP on Page One when they don't have the same traffic as a dealer's main website.   The Google +1 Button also socializes website results in a Google SERP making it like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from your friends.


If you have not seen the impact on Google +1 button votes on Click Through Rates, I suggest that you take some time to look at your Webmaster Tools reports.


The interesting things about the +1 button, is that being in position one in my opinion is not as strong as being in position 2 or 3 with photo icons of your friends under the listing.  You can see when your friends "profile photo" sits under a business listing, how it catches your eye.


So Infiniti of Lisle is in position #3 in the organic listings, but would you agree that your friends "vote" would influence you more than the site in position #1?  I think so.


So, Automotive SEO strategies are evolving and dealers need to understand these changes.  Hopefully, your team has been advised on how to leverage the Google +1 button, because it can bring assets from Page Two on to Page One like the most powerful SEO strategies from days gone by. 




 So What Is Automotive SEO?


Automotive SEO is part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that seeks to publish more of your digital assets in front of consumers during the Zero Moment of Truth.  As consumers go back and forth behavior between ZMOT and FMOT having your brand just a click away is good for business.


Dealers looking for the strongest impact during the Zero Moment and First Moment need to invest in SEM, SEO, IRM, Video Publishing, and a Social Media Strategy.  Picking just one or two will not yield the best total return on your marketing investments.


If you would like assistance reviewing your advertising and marketing investments and strategy for 2012, just drop me a line.





Brian Pasch CEO of PCG


Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing

Text PCGedu to 75674 get information on our upcoming conferences
Brian Pasch

Views: 408

Tags: automotive seo, irm, sem, seo, tony rhoades, what is seo


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Comment by Larry Bruce on November 27, 2011 at 9:14am

Brian I am a bit shocked at your comment. Google +1 is the reason you produce and share GOOD CONTENT number two in the list.


It's hardly old school it’s the foundation of SEO...Past, Present and Future.


It’s what Google is founded on. Google +1 just make it easier for Google to gauge what is good content.


If you are reader who doesn’t understand the aspects or importance of Google +1 here it is in simple terms:


Google is founded on Page Rank which at its root is based on backlinks, the more back links the more votes the more vote the higher the authority and rank of the site.


Google +1 recreates that for content only now a +1 = a vote for the content the more +1's the better the content, the higher the authority and rank.


It is just that simple but the subtleties of the algorithm do have bearing.


Comment by Larry Bruce on November 27, 2011 at 9:02am

Ralph I dont think you can negociate with the government on copywrite filing fees, they will probably just tell you to go file with the other copywirte office.


It costs $35 for each filing X 30 posts per mo. =  $1050 if you know of a way to have the government lower its fee, I would love to hear about that!


Thanks for the congradulations Ralph but I am not aware of anyone who provides a service like OnlineDrive in a single plaform wiht integrated analytics, the closest I have seen is Hubspot and they provide a tool not the service. Would love to see the link / links to the services & discrpitons you are referring to in your comment however, if you could share that would be great.


I disagree with dealers doing in house because I spent my whole life in automotive retail and I know what we do well and what we don't. I created OnlineDrive to fill the need that dealers have from someone who understands what they go through and do on a daily basis.


Traditionally most dealers have never handeld their own marketing, we have had agencies do it Online Marketing is no diffrent. Marketing is more complex than ever now and to me it makes more sense to partner with the expertise than to try to hire and grow it in-house.


Not all will take this approach and that is why we also make the Platform we have built available to the dealer to use as well if they wish do Online Marketing in-house.


In any case we encourage the dealer to do it - we dont care how, just do it. Anyone who knows me knows I am happy to tell you everything I know on how to get this started yourself and if you need our help we'll be here to help you all we can.

Comment by Brian Pasch on November 27, 2011 at 8:08am


Good morning.  I just wanted to say that your summary of SEO which was:


  1. Keywords - more complex what keywords to try to rank for 
  2. Good Content - more complex what topics and time and resources to create it
  3. Backlinks - If you do 1 & 2 right you'll get this one 


was just confirming why I wrote this article. That was the old school definition SEO.  


The Google +1 button has important ranking impact, especially on local search, and thus must be included in an SEO strategy.  


Some readers do not understand that aspect yet, and thus your list in incomplete.  Backlinks are important, but the influence of the +1 button and friends photos are SEO on steroids.


Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2011 at 7:53am

Larry - After reviewing your reference to "OnlineDrive" I see it is a Larry Bruce creation and congratulate you on creating another business model based on what so many of us have been doing for dealers as a fee based service for quite awhile now. 


However, i also see it as a substantial financial incentive and reason for you to disagree that dealers should consider hiring their own people to do it, or simply do it themselves.  You are right about efficiencies and cost effectiveness, but there are still many cases where a dealer having their own content creation focused resource will better serve the dealership than outsourcing to you, me or anyone else.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2011 at 7:45am

Larry - We have a pretty good handle on what we are doing, and I think you are getting hosed on copyrighting costs! The costs are considerably less when doing it properly.  The writers we use are people who create original content for the magazines and publishers they also work for, so we have little to no interest in rehashed or reassembled copy... The plagiarism checking tool is built into our article procurement and acceptance engine, which also facilitates assignment, completion and author payment processes. So the flat rate monthly cost was incurred when we licensed the software and built in the API's based on the academic systems we wanted to use for the anti-plagiarism checking.  I became familiar with these premium academic systems while watching my wife evaluate and grade various student works and dissertations over the past few years.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2011 at 7:39am

Ed - The key for SEO purposes is relevancy and originality... This comment is a good example.  Although I may personalize it for the specific site which it will be posted upon, it is relevant to the question you asked about a Post-Panda World.  The personalization comes from the fact that i am addressing Ed Brooks, the comment you made on Automotive Digital Marketing and I could also reference the fact that i believe you are located in new York while I happen to be in Arizona today.  A link to this particular blog post and comment is as follows: Ralph's response to Ed and despite the fact that I may refer to the same topic of original content creation on a dozen similar forums such as this one, and may use the very same commentary about relevancy, original copyrighted material, intellectual property rights and my perception that Larry Bruce likes to disagree for the sake of the person he is responding to, rather than the topics being discussed... I have made this comment personalized to the ADM Community, included relevant links and further localized it with links to sections within this website, such as my personal profile page at: Ralph Paglia


Now, had this article been about, let's say a review of the new 2012 Toyota Camry... In the article where it describes the roads the vehicle was driven on, those roads would be renamed the highways and local street names of the area in which the dealership resides.  The author of the article would be changed to represent the dealership or dealer's name, people mentioned within the article would be employees, or even customers of that specific dealership, images would be changed to that of 2012 Toyota Camry's at the dealership in which the content was being localized to... And, as time goes on, if we find better ways to "Repurpose and localize" we will... It all starts with owning the original copyright, including all rights to reconstruct, repurpose, personalize, localize and change the original content in any way we see fit since we are not licensing it from third parties.


For example... There is a social media marketing company selling services to dealers that i know iicenses original content from the publisher who owns MotorTrend Magazine.  They must give citation credit and cannot change the editorial content of the articles.  There is not necessarily anything wrong with that, but publishing the content on dealership social media accounts, blogs, profiles, etc. has reduced value in your "post-Panda world" because it is not original, has not been personalized or localized for that specific dealer.  Is it better than nothing? Yes, of course... In a big way.  but, not as good as original content that has been localized and personalized to the specific links, names, products and locations of the dealer it is to benefit.


Relevant, high quality original content will continue to become more valued by many systems on the web, including Google as time goes on... Which is why i have convined the people I work for to invest a substantial amount of money and resources into creating a network of writers, "name" authors, editors, publishers and distribution/placement analysts to ensure maximum value is achieved for the dealership's benefit.

Comment by Ed Brooks on November 27, 2011 at 6:23am

Ralph, I'm curious how this "repurposed and localized" content fares in a post-Panda world?

Comment by Larry Bruce on November 27, 2011 at 6:19am

My apologies Ralph I thought you were talking about something else. I dont think you really need to go so far as developing technology to detect plagiarism you can use and /or copysentry they will do that for you for Free.


As for the copywriting the filing fees alone for 30 posts per month are over $1000, not sure of the ROI on that and in the end Ralph I could give you several applications that will combine you article with other articles on the web and will change it enough to comply with copywrite law.


I would also disagree with you and Brian on the ROI of hiring a content creator while you may be able to justify the cost on paper, I think it is still a waste of money for a dealer to do so there are many less expensive ways to get good original content created without the in-house expense. OnlineDrive manages the entire Online / Inbound Marketing process including a full custom website completely dealer owned with full inventory management and does so for less than a single person would cost to just write content. 



Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 27, 2011 at 5:03am

Larry - The content I was referencing is original, custom written content that is vetted against everything ever written or published on the web to ensure originality, while simultaneously being registered for original copyright protection and establishment of intellectual property rights.  The vetting process uses the same advanced technology that is used by hundreds of major universities in preventing plagiarism. The process of vetting and copyrighting is automated, but the content is written by hundreds of published professional writers (yes, real genuine authors) who are under contract to write original content for the automotive industry.  


The reason why we developed a vetting process and the use of professional writers is because of allegations made by a major DMS provider that some of our content was too similar to what the same writers created while working for that company.  Combined with the fact that we had recently hired a full time staff atorney who specializes in copyright and trademark law, we turned to him for assistance in ensuring all content we develop for clients is original first party authored material.


Again, as Brian Pasch, myself and several others have widely publicized, the concept of a dealer hiring a full-time content creator and article writer is not only sound, but can be made justifiable through an ROI model basis.  This is neither difficult nor a challenge in deciding time, resources or topics... It is simply a reality that the most successful dealers will realize, and then overcome any challenges involved.

Comment by Larry Bruce on November 26, 2011 at 4:52pm

Ralph there are a number of tools that will piece together articles from web content. Whether or not its good content, well that is for the audience to decide. We prefer to do it the old fashion way, we just custom write 30 original posts per month for our clients, track the posts with off page and in-page analytics to see which ones get more interest and do more of that. 


In the end I am sure both are very effective. The Main thing I think dealers should know is that this off page SEO (content and back links) are 70% of what Google is using to rank your site. Also that networked sites where you don't own the admin rights and the platform are not able to get the full effect of on-page SEO finally that without a good keyword strategy based on data you are just shooting from the hip. 


Every time I see a post on SEO it seems that probationers want to make SEO this black box code secret that is in the architecture of the site and that's just not the case. Most of SEO is simple and has little to do with your site architecture and what does have to do with it surrounds keywords and a simple way for Google bots to read the site, bottom-line if you can read and understand it so can Google, take a look at your URL's as you navigate your site in the address bar if you didn't have the page to look at would you know what the page was about? That's a good place to start. 

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