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 VerticalMeasures.com 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 VerticalMeasures.com 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 VerticalMeasures.com 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 VerticalMeasures.com 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!
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