On September 8, 2009 I received a news alert triggered by a press release from Dealerskins; a company that offers car dealers website marketing platforms. This announcement was for a new offering called Dealerskins Hybrid Sites
Since I have worked on client Dealerskins websites before, I thought I would look into what this new offering entailed.
The official press release contained a statement that caught my attention:
"Dealerskins, a division of Dominion Dealer Solutions and leader in automotive web solutions, has launched a new series of websites, Dealerskins Hybrid Sites, that incorporate state-of-the-art SEO practices with its award-winning website designs."
I wanted to see if some of my past criticism of their SEO compliance issues were corrected. Two dealers where mentioned in the press release. The first was Shaker Auto Group's Mazda dealer in Massachusetts which I tracked down to be www.wellesleymazda.com
The second dealer mentioned and quoted was Heather Moran:
"Since we started using Dealerskins, all of our sites have seen an increase in traffic and SEO searchability," said Heather Moran, director of marketing for Stevinson Automotive. "We show up on the first page for major search terms."
Since this dealer group had a number of Dealerskins websites, I picked www.stevinsonchevrolet.com
in Lakewood Colorado. The press release did not specifically say that these two dealers are using their new Hybrid site technology but since they were sited as happy customers, I decided to see how their SEO designs were implemented by Dealerskins.
Google SEO Starter Guide
I use Google's own SEO starter guide as a basic of checking compliance with what Google recommends for websites. Since they control 70% of the search market, it is a good practice to read their SEO Guide
. On page two of the manual, Google recommends that each page on the website have a unique title
. This gives Google a way to measure what the page is targeting and it also serves as a call to action to the consumer who reads the listing on a Google SERP page.
So I checked both websites to see if their Google titles were unique using the "site:' command. Here are two screeen shots from that analysis:
SEO Quick Analysis
From the site commands taken on the same day the press release was issued, you can see that what Google considers as a "basic" SEO requirement, unique page titles, is not implemented.
In the first screen shot for Stevinson Chevrolet
, their service specials
page has the same title as their payment calculator
page. These are two separate and distinct pages that should be titled to reflect the content on the pages according to Google. You can also see that their META descriptions have many duplicates.
On the screen shot for Wellesly Mazda
, I would make the case that starting many pages with the dealership name is a waste of valuable Title tag space. If someone types into Google "Wellesley Mazda" the main website will always be #1 in Google search because the domain is an exact match for the search phrase.
One goal of Automotive SEO
is to attract NEW customers who don't know the name "Wellesley Mazda". A better tag for the service page would be:
Mazda Service Massachusetts | Wellesley Framingham Newton MA
because it covers customer searches for Mazda Service and also includes key towns in their PMA.
On Page four of the Google SEO Starter Guide, Google recommends that web designers take advantage of using the META description tag. The META description tage appears under the Page Title in a Google search result page (SERP).
When we looked at the Wellesley Mazda Dealerskins car inventory pages, like the one listed below:
The META description tag was misssing
. It seems that many of the car inventory pages are missing the META Description tags. We agree with Google that from our testing META tags are important and make SERP results more readable and result in a better call to action.
Here is what the Wellesley Mazda inventory pages look like to Google:
Inventory Page SEO Review
The Dealerskins inventory pages have very broad title tags that do not always include the model. The Title tags also have Wellesley repeated twice which is not needed since its in the domain name.
We do not consider these title tags optimized for organic search. The fact that the pages are missing the META description tag results in random text being displayed from the inventory page. This impacts the call to action ability that META description tags can offer.
The dealers listed in this press release do not pass the basic recommendations from Google's SEO started guide nor do they pass our basic guidelines for Automotive SEO. These two dealer websites do not represent "state-of-the-art SEO" practices.
Again, they were not explicitedly mentioned as using the new Dealerskins Hybrid website technology.
I hope that the new Dealerskins Hybrid Sites
are much better than these two companies quoted in their press release. We invite Dealerskins to send us examples of websites that demonstrate this new Hybrid website technology to review. If the technology is truly state-of-the-art SEO, we will want to tell the industry about it on this blog.
Car Dealer Website SEO Technology Review
I will also be updating my whitepaper on the SEO compliance of all the major car dealer website providers in the coming month. If you would like your dealer platform included in my reviews, send me a note. My goal is to have the updated report completed by the Digital Dealer Conference in Nashville. Last year I reviewed over 15 platforms and this year the report will include over 25 platform choices for car dealers.