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This blog post was inspired by Tony Rhoades today, when he commented on a blog post about ZMOT saying "By the way what is SEO again?".
If you have been following industry chatter lately, few articles have been written about the current state of Automotive SEO strategies.
I think that is why Tony made that comment.....SEO was once a hot topic.
Who moved the SEO Cheese?
So, is SEO dead? The answer is no. Year 2005 Automotive SEO strategies are just not as relevant and need to be refreshed.
If you have been reading the latest digital marketing articles, keeping up with Google has never been harder. In the past few months Google has introduced the Google Plus One Button, Freshness Scoring, Google+ for businesses, Changed Sitelinks, and has reformatted the way Google Places is displayed.
Five years ago, most automotive website vendors did not buy into Google's recommendations for unique Page Titles, META Descriptions, and intelligent URL naming conventions for dynamic pages.
Today, the Top 10 website platforms all have compliant architecture that is easily updated to maximize search visibility.
Today, Google Places has become a dominant Page One force, above the fold, that has reduced the real estate available for SEO strategies.
The screen example to the right shows how much real estate on Page One is given to Google Places for a search phrase like "NY Honda Dealers".
Three years ago dealers just started to embrace social media. Today Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube channels are appearing on Page One search results for searches on a dealership name automatically.
The overall goals of SEO have not changed, the tools that we have at our disposal has increased and social relevance has been introduced.
Let me be clear that microsites, videos, blog posts, and press releases still can appear on Page One for targeted keywords. However, relevance, social connectivity, and conversion needs to be the focus of all these content publishing efforts.
Today, the positioning of Google Places in the list of local dealers is still influenced by traditional SEO. So the organic results are still heavily weighted by updated SEO strategies.
Dealers should start to see how POD Score and Automotive ZMOT tie together. Dealers that have a strong Page One Defense for important keywords increase the potential connections during the Zero Moment of Truth research cycle. Google says that consumers are influenced by over 18 digital assets prior to contacting the dealership.
Dealers can't know in advance which digital assets a consumer will connect with so they should be providing multiple choice paths that include: videos, blogs, social media, content syndication, microsites, and of course a strong website.
An SEO specialist also has to advise dealers about their online reputation because of the frequency that review websites appear for searches on their name. Bad reviews impact consumers during the Zero Moment of Truth so dealers need to have a multi-platform approach to collecting customer reviews.
The Google +1 button has an very influential role in making most digital assets POP on Page One when they don't have the same traffic as a dealer's main website. The Google +1 Button also socializes website results in a Google SERP making it like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from your friends.
If you have not seen the impact on Google +1 button votes on Click Through Rates, I suggest that you take some time to look at your Webmaster Tools reports.
The interesting things about the +1 button, is that being in position one in my opinion is not as strong as being in position 2 or 3 with photo icons of your friends under the listing. You can see when your friends "profile photo" sits under a business listing, how it catches your eye.
So Infiniti of Lisle is in position #3 in the organic listings, but would you agree that your friends "vote" would influence you more than the site in position #1? I think so.
So, Automotive SEO strategies are evolving and dealers need to understand these changes. Hopefully, your team has been advised on how to leverage the Google +1 button, because it can bring assets from Page Two on to Page One like the most powerful SEO strategies from days gone by.
Automotive SEO is part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that seeks to publish more of your digital assets in front of consumers during the Zero Moment of Truth. As consumers go back and forth behavior between ZMOT and FMOT having your brand just a click away is good for business.
Dealers looking for the strongest impact during the Zero Moment and First Moment need to invest in SEM, SEO, IRM, Video Publishing, and a Social Media Strategy. Picking just one or two will not yield the best total return on your marketing investments.
If you would like assistance reviewing your advertising and marketing investments and strategy for 2012, just drop me a line.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
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