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Automotive Website Companies Are Rolling The Dice With SEO

There is an alarming trend that I have been noticing over the past six months; automotive website platform providers are upgrading dealer websites and wiping out all their hard earned SEO work.

Website companies are rolling the dice and gambling with the hard work that drives organic traffic to dealership websites.   Blogs are not moved, custom pages are erased, and structural tags are all gone. 


There are two situations causing this alarm.  The first is an upgrade to an existing client website. A new version of the website software wipes out all the page titles and META descriptions on old website pages, and sets the tags to some "default" text.


This is poor planning and sloppy implementation that can be avoided.  However, what I am seeing is that the actions companies are taking make me believe that they no longer care about SEO.   This is a disturbing trend. 


The second case, is when a dealer changes website platforms, and none of the "common" pages have the tagging that the old website had in place.   There are at least 20 common pages on all dealership website, which coincidentally are also the most used pages like "Used Car Inventory", "Specials","About Us", and "Hours and Directions". 


In most cases that I have seen, all of the "Geo-Targeting" that was created on old website pages, is gone.  It appears that vendors are not respecting the significant time and money that has been invested on organic optimization. 


SEO Is Alive And Well


If you have noticed, I have not contributed many articles  on Automotive SEO in the past year.  Frankly, since everyone claims to be an Automotive SEO expert today, the marketplace was getting too noisy for me and so I moved on to other important topics. 


So, I've taken my latest  SEO techniques and strategies and applied them to our clients. Some clients have even commented that they like the fact that I'm not sharing as often, which of course is the double-edge sword that educators face all the time. How much should you share when your clients want to stay ahead of the competition?


My silence in no way should be construed as complacency about the need for SEO.  The team of content writers, social media strategists, and SEO technicians at PCG Digital Marketing are making new inroads into organic search marketing strategy.  The results in recent months have given me a reason to write about SEO once again. 


With that said, I feel that my recent silence may be responsible, in some ways, to this trend of website companies ignoring SEO basics.  I am seeing a big drop-off in organic positioning for non-branded keywords, after site cutovers. 


When I look into the reasons, it is often this lack of planning during a website cutover.  If your dealership has recently gone through a website upgrade or changed providers, you need to check your site carefully.


Managed SEO vs 'Set It And Forget It' SEO


One of my team members got a frantic call from a former client that decided to go with a "cheaper" SEO solution.  They were panicking that their organic traffic had dropped.   After a few minutes of questioning, it was revealed that they recently went through a website upgrade and all customization was lost.

The dealer was furious that their provider's $______ a month service would not have informed them of this classic error.  They came to the age old realization: You get what you pay for!  

Today's SEO strategies are built on original content, social media engagement, and localized strategy.  It takes real people to do the work each month, and not software algorithms that occasionally change keywords and page titles. 

So, members of this community who are going through a website upgrade soon or who are about to change website platforms, make sure that their is an SEO contingency plan in place.

If you are looking for the latest SEO and Social Media strategies that are generating high quality organic traffic, I invite you to join me in Philadelphia, May 14-16th at the 4th Annual Automotive Boot Camp.  I hope to see you and your team there to discuss SEO strategy.

Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Consulting






Views: 968

Tags: adm, seo, website


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Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on April 14, 2013 at 7:48pm

I think there is immense power in ORGANIC content that is intelligently focused. Nearly four years ago I built a massive media site for a parenting magazine that never left the ground. By following the basics of meta tags and titles and well-composed content, we made the top have of the first search page within a month. And after several years of dormancy, it is still at the top of page 2.

Obviously, there haven't been a rush of competitors racing into that space, BUT, it shows that 'gaming' gimmics may be akin to snake oil if a concerted effort to use content instead of games to climb to the top. It's too bad that dealers have to be so vigilant about ensuring a platform or provider change doesn't crash their ranking, but it's a sad reality.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 11, 2013 at 12:11pm

Furthermore, SEO Evolution: Sell, Discover, Deliver & Report on Highly Conve.... This is what you should be doing in order to entice and sell your SEO wares to dealerships.

Reporting on improvements in keyword position is pointless without applying keyword visits and conversion data.


Comment by Alexander Lau on April 11, 2013 at 6:48am

Additionally, you or your 3rd party "SEO" Company should be using an SEO / Content Marketing CRM or the like from groups like gShift (shown below) or SEOMoz. As you can see below, tools like this measure the effectiveness of Keywords (popularity / search volume, ranking and your conversions (based upon goals and conversion set-up), On-Site Page and Off-Site Page analysis, Social Signals, Backlinks (they absolutely still matter) and how your Competition compares according to the aforementioned, especially conversions for the same keywords.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 11, 2013 at 6:45am

If you're going through any company that fails to explain / document what they're doing from an SEO perspective, turn around and walk the other way. There are loads of scammers in that line of work.

Comment by Brian Pasch on April 10, 2013 at 3:12pm


That is an amazing story.  I wonder how many dealers never ask for the work log of what is being done each month for the SEO fees?  

I can't speak to what other companies do, but the PCG Digital team has a monthly call outlining the content that was created, linking updates, social signals, etc.  Everything is documented. 

Comment by Mike Warwick on April 10, 2013 at 1:25pm

I had a great experience with "managed SEO" on our companies old website provider.  My first week on the job, I went through all of our contracts and saw the line item for "Managed SEO" from our website provider. I went through the meta data and saw the generic fields on every page of every site. I then asked for a detailed list of the site submissions and link creations that had been done for the previous 10 months (how long we were on "managed SEO.")

The answer was zero. That day, I sent a registered letter out to our provider and within 48 hours, we had a cashiers check for $62,000 for our website provider.  Not a credit but an actual check!  

Managed SEO gave me incredible job security and allowed me to hand my owner a check for $62,000 after less than a week on the job!  I couldn't thank the website provider enough!

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 10, 2013 at 12:30pm

@ Robert.

Test, test, test and test until it converts better, regardless of whether it's social icon collateral placement or what have you.

Comment by Brian Pasch on April 8, 2013 at 7:41pm

Generic, auto-piloted Automotive SEO is a cash cow for some companies; it's a great revenue stream if you can make it happen.  You can do the math. Getting dealers to pony up with a small incremental fee per month with the promise of delivering great SEO, is enticing when signing a contract. 

My point is that dealers need to inspect what they have, protect that investment during website upgrades, and measure the ROI of all their digital investments.  If dealers are paying for SEO, demand better attention to detail. Know what is being done each month to improve organic traffic. 

As Manny has pointed out, Video SEO is one of the strategies that continues to to deliver strong organic search traffic.  The key to video engagement is more thoughtful scripts, compelling video production, and smart optimization.  Page One Defense (POD Score) is still a very important element of organic traffic generation. 

Years ago I stated that dealer's needed to have a content writer on staff.  Today, some dealers have invested in training and resources to create compelling content to engage in-market shoppers.   I just hate when I see those investments neglected or erased, due to poor planning.

Dealers who take their eyes off organic traffic generation strategies, that can be amplified with retargeting campaigns, are missing a sweet spot in digital advertising strategy. 

Comment by Catherine Brock on April 8, 2013 at 3:11pm

Good article. I've seen this happen outside the automotive industry as well. Unfortunately, too many digital service providers don't know or don't care about SEO. And so their clients aren't informed about the challenges of switching platforms.

To Alexander's point, SEO is evolving--but in my mind, the basics haven't changed. Provide content (meticulously and appropriately labeled content) that's interesting and engaging to the target audience. A few years back, this wasn't the easiest way to get rankings -- but it's always been the best way. 


Comment by Robert M. Taylor on April 8, 2013 at 2:44pm

It's been my experience in setting up social media platforms for a few dealers, where the website provider, despite originally stating they could not, place the colorful social media icons in the banner area, eventually came around, and was able to do so. And now when the dealer has been rolled out the latest and greatest website design, the dealership is actually ranking lower, than they did with the older website. Bottom line is all about how many units get sold each month, so far, the new website hasn't delivered on that yet either. Time will tell.

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