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From the Trenches - SEO for Dummies Like Me - Real-Time

Search Engine Optimization - the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.

KEYWORDS - on-site SEO, off-site SEO, meta tags, spiders, algorithms, inbound links, link spamming, white hat, black hat, page rank, link analysis, author rank, citation analysis, probability distribution, spoofing, spamdexing, Hummingbird, Penguin...


Is your head spinning?


Can we simplify this a bit?


Let's start with on-site SEO.  At one time, this consisted of putting meaningful titles, descriptions, and keywords into the HTML side of your website or web page.  The search engines would then pick up on those and decide that your site is relevant for those terms.


Today, it is still best practice to pay attention to those tags, but there is an added requirement... Content.  Search Engines have become more sophisticated and can now judge the actual content of your site. 


But wait!  Content alone is meaningless unless it is unique and ever-changing.  So don't cut and paste content from other sites.  Write your own and add new content frequently.


Got it covered?  Good!  Now let's move on to off-site SEO.


Off-site SEO is... EVERYTHING YOU DO ONLINE that can be traced back to your website identity!


Social Media - Do a search for your dealership and you will find posts from Google+ if you post there.  You will also find your Twitter account and YouTube videos.  Is this powerful? (You are utilizing Social Media, right?)


ReputationDo you Yelp?  Maybe not, but many of your customers do and their reviews show up in search results.  So do your reviews from Google+, DealerRater, and more.  Is this powerful?  (You do manage and maintain a good reputation, right?)

Blog and Newsletters - Do you maintain a dealership blog or send out a monthly newsletter?  Do a search for your dealership.  Wow!  There they are!  Is this powerful?  (You do stay in touch with your customers, right?)


Are you in the online Yellow Pages,  SuperPages, and hundreds of other local online directories?  You should be!  That's SEO!


There will be SEO professionals who will think this is a simplified explanation and they are certainly right.  This wasn't written for them.  If you can afford to hire them, do so by all means.  Although Google considers them "unpaid ads", SEO is not free.  You either pay someone in-house to do it or you outsource it to a professional.  If not, then do your best with what knowledge you have and you will see improvement.


But there are two caveats to all of this. 


1. Your website must be a destination worthy of the traffic!  It must convert visitors to prospects and customers.


2.  Your dealership experience must match or exceed the online claims and online experience.


If those two conditions do not exist, then all the SEO and other marketing, paid or unpaid, that you do is for naught.


Good Selling!


Written by
 Tom Gorham

Editor, From The Trenches

Automotive Digital Marketing

Professional Community

Views: 222


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Comment by Tom Gorham on October 30, 2014 at 8:29pm

Thank you Tim.  Can I say Ditto to that?

Comment by Timothy Martell on October 30, 2014 at 8:14am

Great article, Tom. I don't think it would be possible to more succinctly summarizer the main points you articulated here. Of course, we know that executing is far more complex, but you're right on the money. One thing I would add is a third caveat. Your website can't be broken at the core. Virtually all dealer website providers today are mis-representing what is a very amateur, low-grade product as professional grade and its just not the truth.

The bigger, more established providers are absolutely destroying a dealers ability to begin even with table stakes. And if you're OEM recommends or even requires you to have a particular website provider, you can rest assured that this website will eliminate any chance you have to compete in SEO. I'm sure they have great charts, graphs and power-point presentations, but the simple reality is that you have no chance to compete with these terrible products. 

In fact, we've found that most of the automotive website providers today violate Google's quality guidelines

And for those of you who might not no me, we're not a website provider! So I have no agenda here expect to be able to provide dealers with quality SEO.

Comment by Tom Gorham on October 28, 2014 at 2:03pm

Thank you Diane.  It certainly will not impress marketing folks but it is intended for dealership people who need to know in the simplest terms.  As Harry Belafonte once sang, "It was clear as mud, but it covered the ground.  Confusion made me turn around."  LOL!

Comment by Diane Massie on October 28, 2014 at 9:46am

Great article, Tom, I shared your article to our Facebook page.  Thanks for "breaking it down."

Comment by Tom Gorham on October 28, 2014 at 7:09am

Thanks Jeff.  Relying on your website provider for SEO is as bad to day as it was 10 years ago.  And it's even more important today than then.  But when dealers are willing to pony up money for SEM and then say, "SEO, that's free, right," then you know you have a problem with essential understanding.

Comment by Jeff Glackin on October 28, 2014 at 6:48am
Nice Tom. I run across a fair number of dealerships that assume their website vendor has this covered for them. That's a terrible assumption.

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