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SEO Pay Per Click Search Ads - Did You Actually Think It's About SEO versus Pay Per Click Search Advertising?

Is there actually some kind of selection process that results in favoring Search Engine Optimization (SEO) over, or instead of Pay Per Click Search Advertising campaigns???? Silly Rabbit! Watch me while I pull a rabbit out of my hat...

These are 2 internet marketing strategies that seem to have somehow become juxtaposed in automotive digital marketer minds in some sort of screwed up fashion where far too many people want to engage in discussions around whether to use Search Engine optimization (SEO) or Pay Per Click (PPC) Search Advertising. One of the most annoying questions I get, and I am a guy that likes getting questions... is a question along the lines of; "Should I invest in SEO or should I invest in pay per click (PPC) advertising?" (I can hear Bart Simpson's "Doh" in the soundtrack background). The correct answer to this most naive of digital marketing questions is "yes". (followed by a headlock and noogie session).

As automotive digital marketers, we are all after the same results: Get more people to visit our various websites, microsites and landing pages. Here within the gigabytes of collective wisdom on ADM we have seen many answers to the question; "How do you drive more traffic to dealership websites? Well... when condensed into the over used and abused proverbial "elevator speech", you could simply state:

Your dealership websites have to become more visible to those who are looking for the cars you are selling.

One of the universally agreed upon best practices to do that is to get onto page one of Google when anybody in your local market does a search using words relevant to the cars you are selling. But how? And, for example, you may wonder if it is better to be in the top 10 of the organic (free) listings... Or, would being in the number one sponsored link position at the top of the search results page be more desirable?

First of all, let’s take a close look at some of the fundamental differences between SEO and PPC...
---> SEO is all about traffic: you’re focusing on driving traffic to your site. Offsite SEO, including link building, is meant to get more traffic. The Search Marketing experts at desribe the difference between PPC and SEO strategies like creating lots of relevantr links to your dealership websites as; "PPC is renting and link building is owning the house".

Why do the experts at say things like that? Because strategic SEO, including link building, will generate longer lasting, more stable one-way links from relevant, related websites. These links, if done properly will help drive traffic in and of themselves.... In addition to the powerful impact those links within relevant content sites on the Page Rank of your dealership websites. That’s a good thing according to Google.

PPC on the other hand will give you links as long as you’re willing to be the top bidder for those top search terms, and pay a fee every time anybody clicks on those Sponsored Links. When you stop being the highest bidder on these search terms, you drop down within the list of sponsored ad links; and if you stop your pay-per-click campaigns altogether, then those nifty little sponsored links go away... No Tickee, No Laundry... No Links, No Traffic. Think of it like marriage and spouses, compared to going out with party girls and boys... When you run out of money, your husband or wife (if they are not evil) will stick with you through the tough times... But, those fun, fun, fun party boys and girls are gone as soon as the funds to support the party activities dry up. However... Most of us like a good party, and we also love seeing and hanging out with our party girls and boys when the opportunity arises (can you tell I am thinking about Las Vegas and Digital Dealer 6?).

Like a good husband or wife (what about a civil unioner????), Organic search results generated by the right combination of relevant content within your sites, and relevant links to your websites should, for the most part, be considered as being much more reliable than PPC... Unless you have a no-limit credit card hooked up to your Google AdWords account that somebody outside the dealership pays every month and that money never gets charged to the dealership's Internet Advertising Expense Journals (hey, I can dream if i want to!). Those same search marketing gurus at tell us that about 4 out of every 5 internet users will be more inclined to click on natural search results, as opposed to clicking on those digital haiku 25-35-35-25 character space Sponsored Listings that Digital Ralph's Black Belt Adwords Campaigns, Ninja Ad Groups and Secret Sauce Dayparting with Rottweiler Attack Keyword Lists on Accelerated DOMINATION Settings in Warp 9 Setting with a 50% Google Adwords Demographic Targeting premium... Fueled by highly top secret PPC bidding strategies devised by Merlin and the 3 Bald Magicians (some assembly required, no returns or refunds, results may vary), all combined to produce the Sponsored Search Results from Hell that kick the Google Godzilla's ass and then kill car buyers in their tracks so they flop out of the web and onto your showroom floor.... Just stick a fork in 'em, cause they're done!

But, only if they click on the damn things!.

In other words, it bugs me worse than a bad case of jock itch when these people at state that 80% percent of internet searchers will click on a natural search result prior to, or instead of, my magical kung fu powered and feng shui designed sponsored search listings... Please... Somebody tell me that they are full of crap... quickly please.

So does that mean SEO replaces PPC? Should you fire my ADP Digital Marketing PPC Ninjas? Is it time to tell the Baywatch Babes from ReachLocal to get out of your dealership? Do you call Stuart Lloyd, Ray Myer and Tim Clay and tell ClickMotive to motivate their asses back to Dallas? Will Jumpstart become relegated to FalseStart status? Does this all mean that Google will soon need to go in front of congress for billions in bailout funds? Is... Is... Is it true that the way to go is the SEO Freeway instead of the PPC Toll Road??? Gotta cut every expense, right?

Silly Rabbit!!!! No... No... No... First, print out this article on paper, then use scissors to clip this part of the article, keeping the content above this paragraph... I hope you didn't just send a sell order for your Google stock to eTrade! Because Google's revenue keeps growing, despite the recession, the wars in Iraq and ASfghanistan and Obama getting elected... Google's revenue from PPC Search Advertising keeps growing from millions and millions of businesses, and the money keeps on getting switched from offline meadia based advertising, over to online advertising in vcarious media formats with the lion's share going to Google for PPC Search Advertising... And, that 10 year trend is not continuing to defy gravity because PPC Search Advertising sucks... And, SEO strategies are not necessarily the cure for cancer and bloated advertising budgets...

Pay Per Click Search Advertising has enhanced value when campaigns are used in conjunction with organic SEO tactics. First of all, the ability to deliver a dealer's promotional message to the majority of car buyers in a dealer's market area... RIGHT NOW, can be done with PPC and cannot be done with SEO... How important is it in the car business to be able to do things that help sell cars today and tomorrow? Go ahead and ask a GM or GSM if they want to drive traffic starting TODAY, and start selling more cars RIGHT NOW.... or, would they rather wait in the "Sand Box" for 90 days just to see if the SEO adjustments were indexed by the search engines, and they worked...

First of all, please don't misunderstand me here... I LOVE SEO! (and I love Rock 'N Roll) But, when I need to take action to sell more cars starting today, this week or this month, the results from PPC Search Advertising are much more immediate. And adjustments to optimize PPC Search Advertising campaigns can be made and immediately implemented, then their impact on CAR SELLING CAMPAIGNS (yeah baby) can be evaluated in hours instead of months. As crude, crass and "nobody rides for free" as it sounds, with PPC Search Advertising a Dealer can Pay by Credit Card today and sell more cars tomorrow... Interest free for at least 30 days (sometimes even becoming principle free... forever).

Second, with PPC Search Advertising, at least through Google Adwords, the dealer or his PPC services provider has complete control over which keywords the dealership's sponsored listings will be ranked for because you can decide what amount is your maximum cost per click by bidding on specific keyword phrases that you want to target.

Third, you can change PPC Search Advertising messaging and creative content on the fly:... Do you want to change how your sponsored ad appears to prospective car buyers? Log into Google Adwords, change it in less than 60 seconds, and the hit "save". Go to Google's search page and search for your targeted keywords, you will see that the changes you made less than 3 minutes ago are immediate, live and able to swoop down in front of your customer's eyes, dropping powerful message bombs like an F-117 Stealth Fighter/Bomber...

If you still want to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, who killed JFK, and if Area 51 has anything to do with alien encounters of the third kind... And who would win if SEO fought PPC in a mega-monster WWF sanctioned death match that we could market as the "Thrilla in Manilla".... Well, it’s like anything else in the car business; if it ain't broke, don’t fix it.- -

- - If your dealership's Pay Per Click campaigns are converting enough search engine users into opportunities to do business with qualified car buyers, why would you shut it down? And, what if you’re blessed by the Google Gods (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) enough to be ranked #1 on Google in natural search results? If your link building and other SEO efforts have gotten you on page one of Google and you’re seeing the increased traffic, why would you stop driving traffic to your site?

The best Automotive Digital marketers will continue to focus on their dealership's overall internet marketing strategy, and like Digital Ralph, you’ll see these two high value marketing tactics can live in harmony. Sometimes you can get married and still go out partying with your friends... Why would you have to pick one over the other?

For those of you going to Digital Dealer 6 in Las Vegas, please attend my seminar sessions on Monday and Tuesday and be sure to introduce yourself to me so I can thank you for listening and reading what I have to say!

Ralph Paglia
cell: 505-301-6369


About the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

The Automotive Digital Marketing (ADM) Professional Community website is built on a perpetually growing"Viral Expansion Loop" Networking Platform and serves Car Dealers, Dealership General Managers and their management teams, including Internet Sales Managers, BDC Managers, Marketing Managers, Sales Managers, Service Managers, Service Advisers, Parts Managers, Fixed Operations Directors and their teams. Launched in January 2008, ADM has emerged as a valuable and proven resource for the entire spectrum of automotive marketing and Internet sales related professionals. Interactive Media and eCommerce Professionals at car companies (OEM) and tier 1 and 2 advertising agencies who want to see, hear and read what the best Digital and Interactive Marketing professionals in the automotive industry have to say about relevant and timely topics visit ADM on a regular basis or subscribe to the many RSS feeds and content syndication services available within the ADM community.

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ADM is also proud to serve as an online meeting place, professional networking resource and auto industry best practice exchange for automotive suppliers, marketing service providers and advertising agencies who provide car dealer Internet sales and web marketing solutions.

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Tags: Pay Per Click, SEO versus PPC, Search Advertising, Search Engine Advertising, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization


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Comment by Ken Nix on April 21, 2009 at 1:08pm
LOL, you are quite right. L:
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 21, 2009 at 12:20am
@Ken, I have seen and executed what you describe regarding variations of a dealer's name in a URL... It happens quite a bit and is often resolved behind closed doors with money changing hands.

Comment by Ken Nix on April 20, 2009 at 2:29pm
"I know that sub-domains are all the rage right now, but I have had better success with not only unique domains that contain keywords, but also distancing the microsites as much as possible from the primary sites... The opposite of what every SEO expert seems to be recommending these days... For me, it's about selling more cars for less money! I ain't interested in elegance or sophistication, i am interested in real world strategies and tactics that get the job done for less money, rather than more."

I agree, microsites are awesome ways to increase your exposure on the web. They are cheap and can pay for themselves very quickly. If you don't plan for the future, you'll continue to pump money into PPC. And you'll still be missing a lot of business. Another very overlooked strategy is to purchase domain names related to your competition. Misspelled or phonic spellings work best. Sometimes just getting your competitor's real name they're known for instead of their website name. i.e. website: Known as: Toyota OF = purchasing I know you're thinking it never happens, but it occurs a lot more than you'd think.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 18, 2009 at 1:20pm
@Ken... It is great to see that there are other automotive marketing practitioners out there who can see the forest from the trees! Thank you for restoring my faith in the ability of car guys to see beyond the hype and grasp the reality of what it takes to get more done with less money... I have been using Google Adwords to see search activity by keyword phrase in a given market area since the capability was launched by Google... Then determining which keywords to optimiza organically, and which keywords to target with search advertising... This is one of several techniques to get the balance which yields the most per dollar spent. The fact is, if you look at SEO with logic, you must pick and choose which keywords to optimize for with great care... It is limited... The words should be the easiest with which to create lots of high value content on your sites... Personally, that's why i look microsites on seperate domains unrelated to the primary site... It let's you optimize for the microsite using a different set of keywords from your primary site, and which are relevant to the actual specific content of the microsite... I know that sub-domains are all the rage right now, but I have had better success with not only unique domains that contain keywords, but also distancing the microsites as much as possible from the primary sites... The opposite of what every SEO expert seems to be recommending these days... For me, it's about selling more cars for less money! I ain't interested in elegance or sophistication, i am interested in real world strategies and tactics that get the job done for less money, rather than more.

Comment by Ken Nix on April 18, 2009 at 8:48am
FINALLY! Someone gets it. You have to have both if you really want to survive.
1st, Never develop a SEO strategy without using PPC to see what does and does not work in your market. Analyze your google analytics to determine what keywords have the best ROI and results. Then pick 15 of those keyword phrases and concentrate on them with SEO. You can't possibly target 4000 keywords with SEO, but you can with PPC.
2nd, Use connection, It amazes me that 99.999% of dealers have only one website.I have a theory I call the Apple theory. Apple developed the iPod, which most of you have. Then everything else was connected to they could sell to the same people, different products. iPod, iPod nano, iPod Shuffle, iPod Touch. Look how many products that are basically the same product with different features being sold to the same customers. The car industry has always been based on this theory. If a person buys a truck, why not sell them a ford car? The problem is, no one uses this in their marketing of their dealerships. Sales, Service, Parts, Internet department, all of these should have their own websites and be marketing to their customers. Separate them, They're separate entities, treat them as such. I started off with, then I used the same base to build, then then and I just keep growing and growing and growing. Small shades of separation. But separation non the less. Maybe you should look at other ways you can build revenue with the customers you have now. Maybe an accessories store?

3rd,Search for opportunity, think differently. Don't believe the same old process works as well today and it did 10 years ago. It doesn't. wake up and reevaluate your opportunities. Just because car sales are down, doesn't mean you don't have opportunities. You're a Honda dealer, You have a database of 30,000 people who you've sold or serviced their Honda vehicles. What else can you sell them? You know they all own cars, so they need tires, they also need insurance for that car, new law governing cell phone use in the car being enacted in your PMA? market wireless headsets to your 30,000 owner base. Develop a email newsletter that gives some information about their car and stay in front of your customer weekly.

I've got another 18 paragraphs I'd like to write, but if I stay on here writing, I'm not going to get my new site done. So till next time... -ken.
Comment by Brian Pasch on April 17, 2009 at 3:55pm

I love your style and clipart! Yes, the optimal marketing platform should be a balance of SEO and SEM.

The need for PPC is very clear when you study the search phrases patterns in Google Adwords to see that consumers are often lazy and do not add a "geo targeted" word in their search phrases that an SEO campaign can pickup.

For example, you would think that a consumer looking for a BMW X6 in Boston would type "BMW X6 Boston" or "BMW X6 Prices Boston" but in fact that many people will be typing in "BMW X6", "BMW X6 Prices" or some other non-localized search. Without including a state or city in a search phrase, and SEO campaign could run up into stiff competition.

Since we can't re-educate the nation overnight and until Google search engine includes more local web pages in their search results, PPC is needed. So, setting a 15-25 mile radius around your dealership, and purchasing some generalized search phrases is a way to attract more local shoppers.

Without PPC, business owners would have to rely on long tail searches which may be high in conversion but very low in volume. So, SEO is excellent for attracting web surfers who are educated enough to include localizing words in their search phrases and SEM is ideal for capturing the rest of the world.

Of course, evaluating the ROI of PPC for each phrase you bid on is important. Be careful that the search phrases that you bid on are not too broad which could yield unprofitable conversion ratios.

I look forward to seeing everyone at Digital Dealer next week.

Brian Pasch
Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 17, 2009 at 11:57am
Thomas... I couldn't agree with you more! I have had weeks while working for a dealer where 40 hours of my time was spent with managing multiple PPC Search, CPM Display, SEO setup of microsites, etc. and was always, sometimes painfully aware of the time demands whenever an "idea" for a campaign was agreed and a budget for the money needed was set up... I remember wishing there were a budget for hours of an assistant who would have done some of the more laborious and time consuming chores. A lot of dealers get excited about Digital Marketing, and I try to temper their enthusiasm with a reality check around the man hours and supervision needed.... Can dealers outsource those hours? Sure... But even though I now develop and sell those services to dealers I still believe they need to assign supervision and management resources to their digital marketing strategies and tactical execution.

Comment by Thomas McGovern on April 17, 2009 at 10:51am
It pains me to hear anyone ask which is better..... in the is day and age everything is trackable. Ensure that you have tracking setup properly and let the numbers speak for themselves. One will quickly learn how much time, effort and energy should be dedicated for each channel. (I do advocate using both.)

In PPC you should be able to tie-back sales to specific keywords if you are closing the loop on which leads turned into sales. In SEO there is no cost to rank organically, but there certainly is a cost to getting to a top spot and maintaining it.

Even hours spent managing or creating (campaigns, content, links, optimized pages) should be factored into which source provides better results.

Comment by Matthew Cole on April 17, 2009 at 9:44am
"Ninja Ad Groups and Secret Sauce Dayparting with Rottweiler Attack Keyword Lists on Accelerated DOMINATION Settings in Warp 9 Setting" -Haha, Yes thank you for the separate world SEO / SEM clarification!

I look forward to meeting you out in Vegas!

-Matthew Cole

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