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Link Building To Increase Your Visibility Online

Automotive SEO LinksA patent was awarded to Google in May that many are calling the Reasonable Surfer Patent. The patent was filed six years ago and granted on May 11, 2010.

I question the relevance of the patent since so much has changed in the past 6 years in regards to Google search and Automotive SEO strategies. Not that this patent isn't important but I think that Google has already been using this strategy when consider link value for years.

The patent highlights:

  • Ranking documents based on user behavior and/or feature data
  • Invented by Jeffrey A. Dean, Corin Anderson and Alexis Battle
  • Assigned to Google Inc.
  • United States Patent 7,716,225
  • Granted May 11, 2010
  • Filed: June 17, 2004

SEO gurus have differing opinions on the specific value of this patent but to save you the silly banter, I will try to restate what I think is most important. This patent is focused on how Google will “weight” links on a web page and my existing strategies seem to mirror the intent of this patent.

The Google scoring of links may include predicting what a consumer would most likely click on a web page. So a text link in the first paragraph of a blog article, with interesting anchor text, could have more “weight” than a link in the bottom page footer.

High Quality Links

Links are critical in the overall visibility of any website and this patent is part of that discussion. The discussion that has surfaced pertains to where is the best place for links on a page and how do different types of links “rate” with Google.

For example, a link from the home page of ADM to any dealer’s website is a great link to have since that site is a recognized authority in the automotive industry. This link would have more “weight” than a link from a brand new microsite or a friends landscaping website.

Car dealers who have launched effective off-site SEO campaigns that produce high quality inbound links from well ranked websites normally have an edge over their competition with all other things considered equal.

However, it is difficult for dealers to independently create hundreds or thousands of high quality links to their websites. Dealers can obtain high quality links from press releases, Automotive Social Networks, car forums, article syndication websites, document publishing portals and business directories. Increasing links is like an annuity of good will and create a digital marketing foundation.

If you have been considering increasing the links to your website, you should understand some of the basics of link building. Some of the questions you may have are:

· How many links do I have directed to my website?

· What is a good link?

· Where can I find places to create links back to my site?

· Where should that link be located?

· Are image links better than text links?

Getting Your Link Counts

Car Dealer Links

To find the number of inbound links pointing to your website, and to make it easy for anyone to get a correct count, I recommend that you go to www.websitegrader.com .

Type in your domain name and then click on the “Generate Report” button. The free report and analysis includes the number of “inbound links” summarized at the end of the report.

Automotive Link Building

Dealers who want to be competitive in online search should seek to have a diverse set of high quality sites linking to their website.

I bring this up because often I see hundreds of links coming from only one website and so the number of links masks the problem of low diversity. The total recommended links will vary but I would like to see over 1,000 links to the dealer’s home page and hundreds of links to key inside web pages like service, parts, and used cars.

A good link is one that comes from a reputable website that has real content, real visitor activity and relevance to your business. The site can also be unrelated to your business but one that has a high Google PageRank. There are many link building scams on the market, so be careful that you don’t waste your money.

The Reasonable Surfer Patent emphasizes what I have been recommending for years. Content based SEO strategies that include blogs, press releases, article publishing, posting articles on technical forums and social communities can deliver high quality links. The key is to place that link in such a way that enhances the page and that links to the right page on your dealer website.

An example would be posting an article, outside of your website, about the different types of Nissan extended warranty plans available to a consumer. In the article you would place links to the extended warranty page on your dealer website or even Nissan brochures on your website. Car dealers who have been blogging for years or participating in automotive forums already know this.

Where Are My Links Coming From?

Do you know how many links are pointing to your website? How about your competitor’s website? Do you know where they are coming from?

Inbound Website Links

You can see inbound links on any website by going to Yahoo and typing in your competitor’s domain name or your domain name with the “link” parameter. (see example above)

For example, if you wanted to see where ABC Ford (www.abcford.com) was building links from you would go to Yahoo and type in the search box:

link:www.abcford.com

No spaces. This will bring up the Yahoo Site Explorer and it will show you the first 1,000 inbound links to any website. The report page will look something like this:

Yahoo Site Explorer

There is a debate whether a text link will not be as strong as an image that is linked because a “surfer” may be more likely to click on a photo or banner that is above the fold. There is no uniform agreement on this matter. Should you bold the text anchor? Should you use larger fonts for the anchor text? That is where the art of link building and testing comes into play.

What is most uniformly agreed is that a list of links in a sidebar or footer will not be as strong as links inside an article. Of course I am talking about a well written article with links on anchor text that point to relevant pages on a dealer’s website.

If you want to target high value keywords that you want your website to appear on Google Page One, then a combination of good on-site content and a few hundred links from external sites may be just what you need. The strategy for off-site links will be to use the keyword in content and hyperlink that keyword to an appropriate page on your website. It’s a two part strategy that must be in place to win.

If your keyword goal is very competitive you will most likely need thousands of links. The point is that over time, you can compete and win against your local competitors if you have a strong content writing and off-site link building strategy.


Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing

http://twitter.com/automotiveseo

http://facebook.com/pcgdigitalmarketing

http://friendfeed.com/brianpasch

Views: 23

Tags: automotive, brian, building, google, link, pasch, rankings, seo

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Comment by Brian Pasch on June 23, 2010 at 8:32am
@Terrence
Correct. Links from websites that are about the automotive industry, cars sales, new car news, etc. that link to a car dealers website are quality links. Thus, a link from Edmunds.com for example, is a good link. So, dealers should avoid link scams which cost a "low" fee like $30 a month to get a links from crazy sites like iloveapplepie.com or thelinkjuicemachine.com which are just link farms are a waste of money.
Comment by Terrence Gordon on June 23, 2010 at 8:26am
Thanks Brian for the post. I think it's important to clarify (and I hope you will agree) that link building for your website is still about RELEVANCY. It's completely a game of quality over quantity. 6 years ago link farms, reciprocal linking, link buying, trading, etc. was at it's peak because it was simply a numbers game. These days 1 high quality relevant link (relevant to your product and location) outweighs 100 irrelevant links. And each major engine weighs links differently in its algorithm.

I know I'm stating the obvious here for most, but for the sake of Dealers who plan to go out and gather (or pay for) as many links they can get their hands on please know Google doesn't care unless it's relevant to your content.
Comment by Brian Pasch on June 22, 2010 at 1:34pm
Aj...ssssssshhhhh :)
Comment by Aj Maida on June 22, 2010 at 1:19pm
I don't know if this is against the rules but we just signed on with Pasch Consulting and their new Fixed Operations program and out of 3 microsites there are 8000 pages and if I red right 8000 links to be read by Google over the next few crawls!!!! Lets see if those service writers can keep up with the phone calls now!!!!! I'm not sure about the diversity but ....IT'S 8000 LINKS.....HOLY YOU KNOW WHAT!!!!
Comment by Brian Pasch on June 22, 2010 at 9:59am
@Bill
That is correct. A diverse set of links is important. For example, many dealers have a lot of links coming from a local radio station, Yahoo Local, or even Edmunds if they have a paid listing. This inflates their link count but as you point out, link diversity is also important. Google Webmaster Tools has some good drill down data that all car dealers should use to see if their diversity is strong. I have attached a screen shot.

Comment by Bill Allen on June 22, 2010 at 7:10am
Great post. Based on what I've seen Link Building isn't as big a deal for many car dealers as it is in other business categories. Posts like this will hopefully change that and show dealers the additional opportunities to further differentiate themselves from competitors with very similar content and inventory.
It's worth noting that links from a variety of sources (unique IPs) will be more valuable than a bunch of links from a few sources. In addition linking from your own sites to your own sites won't be as valuable because they're likely on the same IP (or IP block); often with matching registration data and name servers.
Comment by Brian Pasch on June 22, 2010 at 4:44am
@Mike
That's a great idea..
Comment by Mike Warwick on June 21, 2010 at 6:38pm
Brian - please keep posting these insights. They are required reading for many of us. It might be a nice feature if Ralph were to add a counter on each post to see how many times it is read.
Comment by Aj Maida on June 21, 2010 at 3:05pm
Nope, it's being read and applied here to. Thanks for the great insight.
Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 21, 2010 at 10:44am
I think a lot of what is happening is that folks understand the basics but there's then two things: A lot of "page titles and meta is SEO" sellers are still out there, and SEO doesn't really sell itself very well when it's not that simple. Dealerships are used to blowing cannons of money at problems, even with littler cannons nowadays, not understanding much beyond that, imho.

That said, the value here in this post is awesome in that it explains fairly well that SEO has moved on. It's an awesome post, well written and insightful and valuable. Thank you, again!

One of the "SEO==Meta" sellers showed me how they got results for a dealership in another market. They had measurable gain and asked me to explain that gain, if SEO was oh-so-much-more-than-that??

I explained it this way: If your competitors in your market are using only page titles/meta with some searchable content, and you use that, too, but better, then you will have results. The minute someone actually USES back links, video, Social Media, micro-sites, etc. they will blow the competion away. I likened it to a footrace competition where folks ran past race cars they were actually allowed to use but didn't know or didn't try--but the first guy to grab a car WILL win the race. Until then, though, that fast runner will still look good . . .

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