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First of all how do you rate yourself with SEO ( Search Engine Optmization ) ?

1-10 1 being the best 10 being the not the best

Do you know the 5 Tall Tell Signs of a Properly Optimized Website?

Tags: Custom, Design, Engine, Optimization, Proper, SEO, Search, Website, l

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No it is not :)

By looking at your own website can you tell yourself it is properly optimized? Once I get a bit more replies on this I am going to throw out the signs.

You for surely will enjoy!
Yes that is 1. Your title tags / meta tags should change not just on one every single page with specific relevance to what you are looking at.

Sorry for any misspelling. Out in woods tracking deer.
Again all apologies on my reply last night. But as mentioned your title tags / meta tags should change not on just one page but all pages within the website. And for them to be relavant to what you are looking at.

New cars - All should be relavent
Used Cars - relavent
and so on and so on.

No there are 4 to go!!
Jenn-

Wow, this is making the gray matter hurt a little- As I recall the reading I did some time ago learning the basics, I believe I can give you a couple here:

Page content including META tags and keywords, a sitemap, and crosslinks to web pages on different C class servers than your URL. Well that is what is vogue today, right? I am sure Google will come up with something different for us to keep us on our toes.
Hey Jen,

Not too familiar with "SEO" but I used to have customer that would tell me he had the best SEO technology around. Honestly I didn't really care but he mentioned that they got him to the top of the search engines and fast and what was weird is he said they charged him no monthly fees?. He wasn't just any car dealer either, he was actually the president of his states Independent Auto Dealers Association as well. I can't remember the name of the company he was using but if you would like me to I could get in contact with him and find out?
I can think of several things:
1. No frames. Framed pages are blank to the eyes of the bots. The URL may show up, but the content wont.
2. Submit your site and map (xml) to all of the SE's if you want to be in any of the SERPs
3. Title tags and Meta tags are important and should change from page to page. Relevance and showing differentiation is important. Also, ALT tags are very important because images are sorta a mystery to the bots. ATL tags explain what that image is and also adds a bit of (through devalued) text content to that page.
4. Make sure that you XML Site Map is updated (everyday!) and submit those changes to the SE's very regularly.
5. Make sure that the text on a page is colored in a diametrically opposed color to the background. Also, no micro text!
6. Limit redirects.
7. Along with using ALT tags for an image, it is a good idea to use a descriptive title with_these_funny_lines_in_between_each_word.
8. Be very careful which sites you link to and how. If you have a PR of 5, it is not usually a good idea to link to a PR 2 site unless you rel="nofollow" said link. Helps stop the leaks and makes mommy much happier!
9. Dead end pages are usually not a good idea. Obviously, you should have your site map linked to and on every page. If the page is designed to be found and landed upon from the SERPS (like a landing or splash page), it is always a good idea to have your site map linked up high on the page..like if you are link dropping a page in a blog or something...make sure the URL you are dropping goes to a page where the link to the site map is near the top.
10. I also think it is very important to look at what you are putting on your H tags on the home page (and where you are putting it in terms of order).
11. When I am building a page that I want people to land on straight from the SERP, I usually do add a bit of text that mirrors the Title Tag of the page, and also blend some phrasiology from that Title Tag too, so that the Bots understand that this is relevant. Further, I also try to incorporate the same methodology for the title tag, taking into account the probable search phrase and GEO issues. I want the SE's to look at the whole picture of that page and say "Hey this makes sense!"
12. I like internal links quite a bit.
13. Using font bolding and color differentiation helps show importance quite a bit...especially when that bolded red font is linked to another page on your site.
14. Oh, and make sure your site is submitted to all of the search engines. I find nice sites all of the time that have never been submitted to google. Nice! And then use the Webmaster Tools (fo' free!) to see what issues google has with your site.
There are mechanical methods to fit current guidelines established by the search engines to maximize SEO, with Google being the game changer at times. All of the above matter and should be applied - for now at least - but perhaps the most valuable comment I can add to the already rferenced "techniques" and "analytics" is the need to determine if your message matches today's - and more inportantly, tomorrow's online shopper. After all, SEO will earn you a position on line but what good is it if you don't sell cars, service or make a friend.

As with any "media" - the message matters! Bounce rates and conversion rates rely on the ease of access to the message as well as the relevancy so even the best engineered site won't convert to a sale if the message isn't clear, targeted to the surfer and connected to a process tied to the real world or an online transaction opportunity. Another developing "qualifier" to a site's more important R.O.I. from their SEO is their ability to tie into the leveraged resources being offered through social networking sites and linked blog based micro sites tied back to the main site.

Of course SEO matters since customers still need to find you, but all by itself it has no R.O.I. which is what really matters when designing a virtual showroom.
Very nice list and well thought out. Here are a few additional thoughts:

1. Check your code for errors which may cause it to be display poorly from a wide variety of browsers. Use the free W3 validator tool at http://validator.w3.org.

2. Submit your inventory feed into the free listing services that will create back links to every car in your inventory. Google Base is one such platform.

3. Make sure the information pages on your website have at least 400 words and well formatted messages. Many car dealer websites have "specials" pages that are all images and no words. Pages like “About Us” and “Directions” are often ignored when they are great opportunities to build quality content and messages that support an SEO strategy. If you want your inside pages to rank in Google’s index they need to be content rich.

4. Use the Google "site:" command to see how many pages Google has in their index and it will also how you pages that have duplicate page titles, duplicate descriptions or empty tags all together. The way you do this is type into Google your website URL like this: site:www.hondacarsarizona.com and it will display all the pages it has indexed from your site. This list is a good way to spot errors to correct.

5. Use XENU link checker, a free piece of software, to spot broken links in your website.

6. Check who is linking to you by using Google Webmaster Tools or Yahoo Site Explorer. If you have only a few back links, get on a regular plan to build new links from reputable sources.

I hope this is helpful. You can find some other SEO articles and strategy tips on my website for Automotive SEO.
I also suggest that you download the Google SEO Starter guide which gives a great overview of what Google considers to be an optimized site. This is a new booklet that was published last month. You can download the book here: Google SEO Starter Guide
Looks like we've had some majoe changes in the Google Algorithm recently. Anyone have any updates? I woke up a couple weeks ago and thought I had been black hatted!
Good Morning Tiny,
There most certainly were, and while you don't have to overturn your world (or website) to stay current, you have to do a better job at what you were already (hopefully) doing. The rules of SEO now apply to SMO more than ever, as "Caffeine," the new algorithm, picks up far more than website results. Picture results, video results, blogs... the point is that the only way for all different types of content to rank on the SERPs is to optimize them... tag everything, ensure proper file names before upload - no "PIC007103.MOV" on YouTube - take a moment and change it to "Tiny Malone and..." because it will affect its searchability. My two cents is always free, so if you have a particular example, I'll be happy to take a look.

I am kind of surprised that nobody has commented on the perennial question that must be asked prior to checking whether or not ANY website has been optimized for organic search engine ranking... Optimized for WHAT? One of the first things anyone looking at this issue would seek to determine is what are the top 20 most important search queries that you would like to see your dealership's website show up on the first page for? The bottom line is that you cannot "optimize" for many more that that... Some would say that 20 is even too many query strings or keywords.

I cannot possibly count the number of times when a dealer who shows up at the top of the organic search results for more than a dozen highly relevant phrases works overtime at finding some combination of keywords that are somehow remotely related to his dealership where the search results DO NOT show his website on the first page.

Let me list an example... My old dealership, Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix, AZ. We watched the following key search terms, and a few more, for our site's organic ranking when a local consumer would enter a query... Everything else we would use either specialized microsites or paid search advertising:

Courtesy Chevrolet
Phoenix Chevrolet
Arizona Chevrolet
Phoenix Chevy dealer
Arizona Chevy dealer
Phoenix used Chevy
Arizona used Chevy
Phoenix Chevy truck dealer
used Chevy trucks in Phoenix
Phoenix Chevy Silverado
Phoenix Chevy Colorado
Phoenix Chevy Tahoe
Phoenix Chevy Trailblazer
Phoenix Chevy Suburban
Phoenix Chevy Cobalt
Phoenix Chevy Malibu
Phoenix Chevy Impala
Phoenix Chevy Corvette

Hopefully, this will help illustrate my point... Another perspective is to recognize that there are search terms where your site is simply not relevant from an organic relevance perspective. For example, to try and optimize a Chevy dealership site to appear in search queries seeking Ford or Toyota dealers is simply not practical nor advisable. If you want to try and gain conquest traffic, then used paid search advertising and be transparent about it so that the only people who click, and generate costs, are the ones searching for another product who MAYBE would consider yours.

There are too many false expectations set with dealers and managers about what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can or will be able to accomplish. But, the first thing to do is to gather some research on what the top 20 most valuable, and relevant, search engine queries are for your dealership. One of my favorite ways to do this is to get Hitwise reports, look in Google Adwords at the previous month's search query volume for keywords being considered, get the reports out of Advertising Age's annual Search Engine Marketing report on automotive search queries, go to a Marketing Reports and Charts site and search for most popular search term reports... You get the picture.

FIRST, decide what it is that you are going to optimize for... Because you can't boil the search engine organic ranking ocean! Keep in mind that organic ranking, outside of Geo-terms, is for the most part a GLOBAL search result for the language used... When somebody in Torino, Italy searches the English language Google search engine for the term "Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix, AZ" the www.CourtesyChev.com site shows up at the top of the listings... But to expect "Chevy Dealer" to show one dealer over another on an intentional basis can be a tall order when there are over 3,500 Chevy dealer websites available.

Make sure that what you are asking for from your SEO efforts, or services provider, is both focused on a limited list of high value keywords and phrases, and that they are the most relevant to your dealership's products... Get THOSE done before you try to own the web for "free" on a worldwide basis for 32,000 keywords!!!

In other words... GET REAL!

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