Automotive Digital Marketing

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by Doug Antkowiak , Search Engine Optimization Specialist 

The other day, one of the dealerships I work with asked me a question every

business owner should think about when it comes to SEO:

How do I create a link building strategy?

While it seems like a simple question, it has a complicated answer. In regards to

SEO, link building is the process of gaining a backlink from one webpage and

pointing it to another. Through the eyes of a search engine like Google, the amount

of links pointing to a webpage is one of the most important signals search engines

use to rank a webpage in search results.


The Basics of Link Building

The relationship between search engine optimization and link building

is complicated, but here's a quick rundown every dealership Internet Manager

should know:

Link Building (In General) is Good

Each link is like a vote of confidence, so try to build as many as you can from the

most reputable sources.

Not all Links are Created Equal

A link in a tweet typically isn't worth the same as a link from a newspaper or blog.

The more trustworthy the source, the more value the link can bring your website.

Some Links can be Bad

As I mentioned in my post about Penguin 2.0, links from foreign domains, or

websites that have anything to do with pills, poker, or porn won't help you.


If you're buying links from other websites – STOP! Purchasing links is a disservice

to your customers and your reputation. It violates the Google user agreement, and

if they catch you, you will have to pay someone a lot more than the price of a link

to fix your search engine penalty.


Where to Start Building Links

Now that you understand the general concept of link building, the first step to

creating a link building strategy is to understand your link building assets. There are

thousands of ways to earn links, but below are three strategies every car dealership

can use.



Strategy #1


Do you know anyone with a website that can link

to your business? This can be any local business or

organization you work with, like a body shop,

parts supplier or even a local florist that delivers

flowers to your front desk.


Similarly, is there anyone that mentioned you

online that isn't linking to you yet? You can make

a quick search for mentions of your brand by

inserting the following search parameter into Google:"Brand Name" – This will search mentions of your brand name, while leaving out

any results that reference the domain of your website.


Strategy #2

Onsite Content

Do you have anything on the website that will be link-worthy from a different site?

Typically, this is the driving force behind creating a blog, but you could have one-off

pages that share information like car maintenance tips or scholarships. In fact,

scholarships are one of the most efficient ways to build links to your website.

If a car dealership were to give away $500 to a local high school student with an

interest in cars, it could generate links from a variety of places like:


  • local high schools
  • universities
  • city websites
  • local chambers of commerce
  • local bloggers
  • scholarship directory websites 


Not to mention, creating a scholarship is a great investment in the community and a fantastic

public relations strategy.


Strategy #3


Every successful car dealership has a staff

of passionate experts chomping at the bit

to share their knowledge. Use their

experience in a guest posting opportunity.

Allow your head mechanic to talk about

winter car care to a local high school

reporter or ask your Dealer Principal to give

a speech at the local elementary about

running a car dealership.



Did you know that according to, 7 out of 10 kids in child safety seats

are not properly buckled in? Have someone on your staff certify your dealership as

a child car seat inspection station by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


As you can tell, earning a good link is hard, but press like this can earn

you attention and links for your website. Link building is one of the largest

oversights most websites face. Only the most agile and creative business owners

create a link building strategy, which helps their website see higher rankings, more

visits and ultimately, record-breaking conversions.


What other ways have you earned quality links for your site?


About the Author

Doug Antkowiak is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist at Cobalt. In his current role, he forms strategies with car dealers to increase the relevance and rankings of their websites in organic search. Doug comes from an agency background with many years of experience as a copywriter, SEO and social media strategist for various clients, including Autoweek Magazine. If you see him on the road, he'll be driving his silver Honda Civic Hybrid named Egon. You can follow Doug on Google+ or on Twitter at @SocialDoug. Or feel free to reach out to Doug directly at

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Comment by Alexander Lau on January 31, 2014 at 6:42am

Link building is just one aspect of a great digital marketing strategy. 

Hey dealers, check out the following and if you're not on board with this, give me a call. I will gladly fix your digital marketing strategy.

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 29, 2014 at 11:09am

I'll play devil's advocate in term of BuzzStream. 

The main reason why their strategy might not be so effective, is that you first of all have to try and persuade the person you are contacting to create a backlink for you. Then if you manage to persuade them, they're going to want something in return, either a link exchange (2 way link building was penalized many years ago), a very high quality unique guest post of at least 1,000 words, but usually a lot more, and the content has to be highly targeted to the readers of the blog, and of value to them, not just promotional material. The cost for the content alone which is to a standard that most bloggers will approve will probably cost you around $25 - $50 to produce, depending on how much the writers time is worth. No blogger will accept an written by someone in India for $5.

Then there's the time it takes to exchange e-mails with bloggers. In addition to that, most decent blogs will want to charge you for a guest post or product review. Guest posts usually start at $50 and product reviews can be as much as $1000 depending on the niche. This is even if they want to offer you a link in the first place. Remember that blogs get hammered with dozens guest post requests and link exchange requests emails every single day, and are very picky about what content they publish to their audience. Ususally they will want you to do a few rounds of edits to your article too before it's ready for publishing. Many bloggers are also ignoring guest posts requests completely because they are getting fed up with it. I own hundreds of blogs so I know what it's like. If you have a look on a few of the top SEO blogs you'll see that there has been recent coverage of guest posting and bloggers are sick to their teeth of being bombarded with guest post requests.

Matt Cutts has also recently announced guest posting for SEO purposes is now against Google TOS, which has put additional pressure on bloggers to think very carefully about guest post bribes from SEO's.

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 29, 2014 at 10:27am

In addition to the premium tier 1 links, we provide 250-500+ mixed platform tier 2 and 3 links, plus the premium social bookmark tiers and social signal tiers on top of those. As I explained before, these new links are of much higher quality than the links in our old link pyramids. We are guaranteeing minimum PR3+ sites, instead of a no minimum PR like in our old pyramids, so no lower quality links will be included. Also, many of the links in our old pyramids were nofollow, meaning they don't pass much juice. They were only really in there for diversity. We now believe that links like blog comments, wiki backlinks and profile links in high numbers now leave a clear footprint to follow for Google, that's why we no longer include them in the pyramids. What we've done instead is replaced them all with contextual links, such as additional layers of tier 2 and 3 web 2.0, social network and article links, as well as the social bookmarks and signals, because Google favors these link types much more that blog comments, profile links and nofollow links such as wiki links. We've also added hundreds of different platforms to the mix now so your links will be much more diversified in that sense. We've also filtered out all non-English domains, all non-contextual links, nearly all nofollow links and all sites less than PR3 and low trust/authority. This means that your pyramids will be of much higher quality and there will be much less footprint for Google to follow. The mean reason why we've removed lower quality sites is because we're trying to avoid setting off a red flag at Google by using links that have hardly any value. There's no point in creating links on lower quality sites that have hardly and value, as they are likely to do more harm than good. If they don't have much ranking power, yet they increase the footprint and jeopardize the other links then we feel that there's no point in having them in the pyramid. We'd sooner focus on increasing the quality of the links and lower the quantity, as well as provide links from a more diverse range of platforms, higher numbers of contextual links, all English domains, higher trust and authority domains etc. There are many improvements we have made to lower the footprint and increase the quality but those are the main ones.

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 29, 2014 at 10:19am

After the crack down of various blog networks, the top goal of most SEOs these days is to create their own Private Blog Networks (PBN). Since you have complete control over the content on the websites, the number of outgoing links and the sites to which the links go out to, its possible to have a PBN with zero footprint. Even if one of the sites in the PBN gets penalized or de-indexed by the next Google algorithm, the other sites are protected and will continue to pass juice to your money site. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 29, 2014 at 10:18am

Additionally, in terms of Off-Site SEO, you should be creating your own Private Blog Network(s).

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 29, 2014 at 10:17am

Peter, I agree with your assessment, I just try and shy away from tools that have a "black hat" SEO ring to their names. In fact, I have posted this assessment many times, in these waters:

"SEO of any kind is pursued by gaming the system. There is nothing “natural” about any form of SEO. The fundamental concept of SEO is exploiting a flaw in a search engine’s ranking algorithm. The difference between white and black hat tactics is merely a function of where Google decides to draw a line, and this line is at least somewhat arbitrary. Google's goal is to confuse search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and to uncover aggressive SEO techniques through delaying, or obfuscating results from SEO changes being made.

Furthermore, what does Google want? They want relevant, real content on the internet that people want to read and tell other people about. If Google doesn’t bring you the most relevant content when you search they aren’t doing their job. So by definition, even the word Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means to “game” the Google search engines (and others) to get your valuable content ranked higher than it would be if left alone to the forces of the Web. The bottom line is that all external SEO efforts are counterfeit other than one: Writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search."

Bad News for PageRank Fans

For PageRank devotees, there is some bad news. PageRank is updated internally within Google on a daily basis and every three months or so, they would push out that information to the Google toolbar so it would be visible to webmasters. Unfortunately, the pipeline they used to push the data to the toolbar broke and Google does not have anyone working on fixing it. As a result, Cutts said we shouldn’t expect to see any PageRank updates anytime soon--not anytime this year. He doesn’t know if they will fix it, but they are going to judge the impact of not updating it. The speculation that PageRank could be retired is not that far off from the truth, as it currently stands.

Comment by Doug on January 29, 2014 at 9:54am

Thanks for the comments guys. I'm trying to stay away from the topic of automated link building because it's a slippery slope into black hat tactics. With that said, this is just an overview of some miss opportunities most auto dealers should be taking advantage of for their online campaigns.

To Alexander's point, I do recommend Buzz Feed. It's probably one of the best tools out there to organize link building opportunities. Their blog also has fantastic stuff:

Comment by Peter Saydak on January 29, 2014 at 9:49am

You're not buying old domains because they're aged domains.  You're buying them because they have high PR, excellent domain authority and an excellent back link profile.  They've expired and then you pick them up for hopefully cheap at an auction or from a broker.  This is opposed to setting up a blog network with brand new PR 0 sites with 0 backlinks and no domain authority.

You then re-purpose them so they're relevant for your site and insert your backlink and you get an instant relevant and powerful link.

You don't want to use automated tools for tier 1 links back to your main site sure but you can totally get away with using them for tier 2 and 3 links and again, if anything goes horribly wrong you just remove the tier 1 link.

You have to be careful when you use the tools but if you know what you're doing and you don't build links too fast they can be a highly effective part of a link building strategy.

I'll add the disclaimer though that every market/niche is different and you have to test a bit to see what works.

You also have to take everything Matt Cutts says with a grain of salt.  Google does not want you to rank organically, Google wants you to spend money on Adwords so they're never going to outright tell you what works.

All SEO is technically "black hat" so it's up to you to decide what strategies you're comfortable with.

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 29, 2014 at 9:22am

I hope you're not planning in spinning articles using WAC @ and then applying those articles to GSA SER, Ultimate Demon or SEnuke. Googe's GONNA' catch youuuuuuu!

Comment by Alexander Lau on January 29, 2014 at 9:19am

Peter, I would go nowhere near those tools, known for Black Hat SEO techniques. "Then simply buy some expired high PR domains, set up new websites on them and fill them with relevant content and link back to your site with the desired anchor text." Aged domains means squat BTW: 

I do agree with your assessment on private blog networks, this is what we do for our clients and it CRUSHES!

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