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When I started doing SEO and social media for dealers, the one thing that really worried me was how often dealers are being outranked in search engines by third-party listing sites like Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus, and Edmunds.
After all, these are sites that make more money from dealers by essentially outmarketing them. What's worse is many of these sites use dealers' money to invest in ad campaigns that actually demonize dealers. The goal being to get customers to skip dealer websites and window shopping, in order to make even more money off of their dealer partners.
And because people are using the web more and more for research, more third-party listing sites are popping up to claim an even bigger piece of the pie from dealers.
From a business perspective, it doesn't sound so bad: You pay a highly-trafficked, tech-heavy site to list your inventory and receive leads in order to sell more cars. Unfortunately, customers that use third-party listing sites tend to be the most difficult to close. As someone who's used CarGurus and TrueCar to research prices and inventory in my area, I can speak from personal experience.
In fact, despite submitting information to dealerships, I ended up buying a completely different car than I was initially researching, and from a completely different dealership. And yet, I received countless emails and phone calls from BDC and sales representatives trying to get me to come in. I got the feeling they chased a lot of leads from third-party sites without much success.
Consistent, Quality Leads Come from Your Website
I'm sure you've all heard this before, but it's something I feel a lot of dealers are missing out on because the results can't be seen overnight. The highest quality leads always come from your website! So the goal of any dealership in 2015 and beyond should be to grow your own traffic by investing in things that get customers to your website.
When Wikimotive brings on an SEO client, we look for areas where a dealer can grow quickly and where the most value is. Whether you already employ an SEO company or have an internal team, those are the two most important focuses to have in order to drive more traffic to your website and increase organic leads.
Organic Traffic is Consistent and Grows with the Web
When you create content that drives traffic to your website and build links that helps your site rise through the ranks, you're not just buying time from your SEO company. By doing more for your dealership's site, you're investing in it and helping it grow. You need to have a consistent content strategy to maintain and develop new rankings, but they'll stay fairly consistent, and more often than not, traffic will grow naturally over time.
As Google and other search engines get more and more intelligent, dealerships and other businesses have an opportunity to claim rankings that may have otherwise been difficult to take from high-authority third-party listing sites.
So the big question is, do you want to continue chasing down customers or do you want them to come to you?
Written by Mark Frost, Director of Content at Wikimotive