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Could SEO Expert JD Rucker's Advice Have Unexpected Consequences?

My good friend and fellow SEO practitioner JD Rucker recently posted an example of how a dealer can leverage their content to attract social signals or votes for higher Google organic ranking.  


Since JD has a strong social media clout and followers, when he shares content on social syndication platforms like "", it generates significant traffic.  In the screen capture below, an example of a blog post that JD "digged" a few days ago has already received 64 "diggs" and 35 Facebook likes.


JD references is his article on that the Willy's Jeep blog post he promoted generated over 32,494 unique visitors to the dealership website in just 3 days. In addition to visitors, the article also picked up a number of Facebook likes, which again are strong social signals in Google's eyes.


However, the example he chose brings up a bigger strategic question, so here is my feedback on this strategy.


Is getting unqualified, raw traffic to your dealership website JD's real goal here?  No.  He wanted to increase the social signals for a post on this dealer's website.  This was accomplished. 


JD suggests that these social votes assist in Google's ranking algortymn, which is true.  However, there are some caveats with his strategy. 


Could getting social votes in this way have some negative repercussions?  


First, if you are running retargeting code on your website, your audience counts will explode with consumers who are not in your local market. The 32,000+ visitors from JD's sharing most likely are nowhere near the dealership.  This will inflate audience counts and could drive up your PPC retargeting costs depending on how the campaign is setup. 


Second, will the unqualified traffic dilute your ability to read website analytics and spot trends with changes in local advertising, SEO, and PPC budgets?  Does this complicate the Internet Managers job to explain to the dealer principal why the increase in traffic did not increase leads or calls? 


Yes you can manually filter our visitors to your "Jeep" page but that takes time. What if this "traffic flooding" strategy  is going on a few times a month. Explaining the benefits of website traffic that normally is 10,000 unique visitors a month to 70,000 unique visitors a month will be a fun discussion with the dealer. 


A Different Strategy


I believe in content marketing but if a dealer is going to use content marketing to attract social votes and likes, why not focus on Local Issues and events that will attract more local consumers.  


These local consumers are the ones that you want to include in your retargeting lists, invite into Facebook, and join your Google+ circles.  


Local consumers buy and service cars. That's where my view and JD's seem to digress.  I'm not saying that JD doesn't promore local SEO but his example may be not the best place for dealers to focus.


There are many controversial, historical, and social activities (like sports) that will interest local consumers.  These types of  articles with compelling infographics or photos can be leveraged in the same way as JD suggests but with better long term residual value to the dealer.  


Pinterest is a perfect tool for increasing local consumer clicks and votes if you have the right LOCAL  content strategy.  Imagine creating a blog post with a photo of the local basketball team winning the State trophy.  


Or an Infographic of the State Tournament Elimination process.  Pinning that on Pinterest and sharing that blog link on social media portals will increase local clicks to your blog with more qualified traffic.  


Those are the consumers I want to retarget. 


Can You Reproduce JD's Results


It is also prudent to note that JD's example of 32,000 visitors in 3 days is an extreme case because of his superstar status in social media and how many people follow this posts.  A dealer following this same strategy would be lucky with their new Digg and Redit account to get 500 visitors.  


So,  it is a great case for hiring JD to lead up your social media and Automotive SEO strategy but not a good example of what you can do yourself.  There are only so many dealers JD can post for so you are well advised to create a strong local search and social strategy that you can build with qualified traffic.


And yes, I would love to have access to JD's social media accounts for a few days!!


Your Digital Strategy Always Needs Refining


The great news is that at the 2012 Automotive Boot Camp both JD and I will be sharing our latest strategies for social media and search engine optimization.  And in addition to the two of us, we will have a number of experts on SEO, SEM, Social Media, Mobile Marketing, and more to give attendees the most comprehensive education to create a winning digital strategy.


Click on the image below to download the latest 4-Page Boot Camp Brochure





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Tags: automotive seo, brian pasch, digital marketing strategy, jd rucker


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Comment by Tom Gorham on March 27, 2012 at 5:37am

@JD - Great explanation. Thank you. Debate within dealerships between branding and ROI goes on all the time and is a tough call for some dealers... especially if their marketing budget is tight.  I especially see the value of re-targeting as these people had a reason to be on your website.  The dealer's expectations regarding results has to be considered before you go into any program.

However, I learned a long time ago that you can be overloaded with junk leads to the point where follow-up becomes neglected and you can actually sell less.  I think it's important to have processes in place to handle "Handraisers" and then move them to your regular sales process if they show interest. 

Comment by J.D. Rucker on March 26, 2012 at 11:46pm

@Tom - When I was working for Honda dealer in Oklahoma, the new GM convinced the owner that they should do a code-based mailer giveaway. The idea was that for 3 days people would bring their mailer in with the code on it to see if they'd won the grand prize, a car or something. Even if they didn't win the grand prize, everyone was guaranteed to win something (which turned out to be a cheap pair of sunglasses that most would laugh at when receiving them), so the foot traffic at the store during those three days was outrageous. It became annoying; the "just here for the prize" people outnumbered real ups 30 to 1. Most salespeople got sick of it and let the people walk up to the receptionist. If someone was interested in a car, she'd page us.

I wish I could say that I was one of the two salespeople who were diligent and continued to do their job and greet everyone they could, passing out business cards and walking people up to the receptionist to hear them gripe about their sunglasses, but unfortunately I was one of the majority who was sitting back taking phone pops and declaring that this wasteful move was going to get the new GM fired in his first month on the job.

Over the next 3 weeks, the two "moron" salespeople who did their job led the board by a mile. The owner was ecstatic and we had an excellent overall month. Even the "smart" salespeople who didn't participate had good sales months. By the third time we'd run this campaign a few months later most of the salespeople were on board.

Last I heard, the GM who we were all sure was going to get fired owned a pair of lots of his own in Texas.

Knowing what to expect and acting accordingly is one of the keys to every marketing strategy. With retargeting, for example, it isn't uncommon to see impressions in the tens of thousands with clicks in the tens. Does that mean it was a bust? No. Unlike traditional PPC, retargeting has virtues in branding and top-of-mind exposure to help dealerships be the choice when the time comes to buy.

There are 5 types of content marketing strategies. Viral content marketing is the 4th tier with the second-highest traffic and the second-lowest conversion rate, but also with the second-highest overall SEO value. This type of campaign would never be initiated with a dealership whose GM (or in the case of Mike Hastings, the owner who he reports to directly) was unwilling to take on the "complications" associated with this level of SEO. Some dealers look at conversion rates and closing ratios as the primary indicator of success. Others look at total leads and total sales. A few look at total sales only.

Every level of content marketing has good and bad, risk and reward. Understanding and accepting or rejecting those risks are things we all do every day. What works for some will not work for others. It's important to keep ideas flowing and use these networks, articles, webinars, and conferences as venues to discuss innovative marketing concepts in an increasingly-competitive automotive industry.

Comment by Tom Gorham on March 26, 2012 at 8:50pm

"Does this complicate the Internet Managers job to explain to the dealer principal why the increase in traffic did not increase leads or calls?"  As an Internet Manager, I run into this all the time.  Guess what, it's important.  I'm hoping to hear more about this...  Whether you planned this confrontation or not, go to it.

Comment by J.D. Rucker on March 26, 2012 at 12:18pm

Ah, forgot to talk about your idea of using local issues. As a support for the PCG Retargeting product, you're spot on. That's exactly the direction I would go and it can have some good SEO value as well.

Dealers should definitely have a localized component to their content marketing with or without retargeting, but using that particular PCG product PLUS good optimization PLUS localized content and social distribution is a winning combination.

Comment by J.D. Rucker on March 26, 2012 at 12:11pm

First, let me say this is the first time I've been in a title on ADM.

There was a paragraph from the initial post on DrivingSales that should be highlighted:

"This is a controversial strategy mostly because it's so easy to botch. This doesn't fall into the realm of "give it a shot" or "experiment with it" because once a site is deemed inappropriate on these sites, they can get banned forever. PLEASE feel free to email me if you have questions or want to bounce your strategies off of me. I'd rather answer a dozen questions today than receiving an email in a month saying, 'I tried what you said and now I'm banned on Digg!'"

As you know, a blog post is never a place to discuss complete strategies. There are good and bad ways of going about anything, but the most important thing to remember is that any strategy, especially one that aggressively utilizes tools such as social media, must be discussed and tempered prior to implementation.

Behind the scenes, I spoke to Mike Hastings at Executive about the plan. I explained to him the caveats of skewed conversion rates and made certain not to include any retargeting code on the page. His reply:

Thanks for the heads up JD, go for it!!! BTW, can you send me a link so I can read it?


Mike Hastings

Brian brings up some great points. Before embarking on any aggressive campaigns, especially one that emphasizes how easy it is to botch and to "PLEASE feel free to email me if you have questions or want to bounce your strategies off of me," it's important to understand the consequences of missteps. This isn't the type of strategy that any dealer can employ. Aggressive dealers aren't looking for everyday, easily-duplicated practices that can be universally deployed. Campaigns like this are designed to be run by one of two people:

  1. Someone at a dealership who has the skills and resources to implement it properly with advice from an experienced voice.
  2. A vendor whose team does this sort of thing several times a day for dealers across the country.

One of the reasons that I love to speak at events such as Brian's is that they're education-based and geared towards helping savvy dealers make the most of what's out there. I'll talk about SEO and social media best practices and other speakers will do the same, going over techniques that any willing dealer can employ.

There are certain practices that are much more aggressive, and those are the ones where dealers really should consider hiring the top notch vendor with the combination of experience and cutting-edge styles in SEO to make it happen OR go in-depth one-on-one with an expert to learn how to do it themselves.

The piece in question happens to describe such a strategy.

Thanks for the mention, Brian!

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