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There is one simple truth that must be recognized by all dealers. That is that the Internet plays a major role in how today’s automotive consumers research and purchase vehicles. Never before in the history of auto sales has there been a faster, more efficient way to get your brand in front of such a large audience. The Internet isn’t going away. It’s the way business is done these days.
One aspect of doing business on the Internet is making sure that your dealer website is visible to large quantities of vehicle shoppers. There are a few different strategies that can make this happen; however, the only one that has real long-term benefits is Search Engine Optimization (commonly known as SEO).
Looking for a refresher on SEO basics? Read this.
So, what is the true cost of doing SEO?
Perhaps the more relevant question is what is the cost of NOT doing SEO? I’d add to that by asking what the point of having a website is if you’re not willing to take any measures to have it show up in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)? The simple science is that a website that returns no results (traffic, leads, etc.) is also a waste of your hard earned dollars.
Over the years, I’ve observed many dealerships who have consistently moved from one website vendor to another in an effort to get the lowest price. I’ve also observed the lowest priced vendor’s quality of work - it often stinks! Allow me to demonstrate.
A few years ago we were working with a dealership who was ranking on the first page of SERPs for some of the most competitive keywords for that region. For whatever reason, they chose to make the shift to a new provider in the middle of the night, without notice to us. While they certainly ended up saving on their monthly website bill, that switch inadvertently cost them thousands because the new vendor had their site “re-optimized” for the right city, BUT in the wrong country. This dealer’s website disappeared from the search results. That dealer ended up moving back to my company to have us repair their web presence.
I’m not telling you this to plug my company's SEO services. I’m hoping however, that it demonstrates that in most cases, low price also translates to low quality. The name of the game is to get your dealership in front of as many people as possible. If you’re not showing up in SERPs, you’re not moving metal. So again, what is the cost of NOT having your site SEO’d?
At the 2012 Driving Sales Executive Summit in Las Vegas, Rand Fishkin, CEO of MOZ.com, said that he would choose the process of SEO over SEM (or PPC) any day of the week. His studies indicated that the quality of click-through traffic on organic search results was far superior to any click that came by way of pay-per-click advertising.
Fishkin pointed out that another advantage of SEO is that it provides a long-term solution for greater visibility. With pay-per-click advertising, the moment you decide to turn off the cash, your website vanishes from the listings. We’ll focus on SEM and PPC in an upcoming article.
In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate that the Internet is the way to do business this day in age. Every day millions of automotive consumers are going online to research products. This research helps them shape their purchase decision.
By focusing on a solid online strategy, you can place your dealership in front of thousands of people in your local market. Doing so enhances your ability to form relationships, help shape opinions and lead potential buyers to your dealership. The sooner that you adopt the truth that the Internet is the way business is done today, the better off you’ll be. Invest in yourself and your online presence so that you can reap the rewards.