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I'm Sick and Tired of Incompetent, Self-Serving Automotive Website Providers! Who's with Me?

Dealers, there’s something fishy going on with the major automotive website providers.

Problems that affect search results are popping up left and right, but no one is willing to accept responsibility and fix the issues. Instead, there’s a brick wall of “Aw shucks, that’s the way things are. Guess you’ll have to deal with it.”

And I know what you’re thinking, but these are not isolated events with one rotten website provider. These issues are occurring with almost all providers in the industry.

I’m going to share a couple of my recent experiences, and I want to hear about the issues that your companies and dealers have faced when asking providers to fix problems with their systems.

Example #1: Shifting Blame and Unaware Managers

After a dealership came to Wikimotive with rapidly decreasing traffic, we did an aggressive audit of their site and discovered a number of red flags that could be causing issues with Google.

But as we took these issues directly to the provider, we were told the pages that were raising the red flags were created by someone at the dealership or a third party. However, with a simple Google search, we were able to discover that to be entirely untrue. Because if someone had written that content exclusively, we wouldn’t have a problem with it in the first place. This, on the other hand, is a big problem:

The response to this, and another inquiry regarding duplicate content from the provider’s SEO MANAGER ,was essentially “Yeah, there’s some duplicate content, but until Google says that’s a problem, we’re not willing to change.”

Um, pretty sure they’ve said it before. And every professional SEO company agrees that small changes, such as location–which is standard practice for many website providers–can still cause a page to be labeled a duplicate in Google’s eyes.

Specifically, Moz advises site owners to steer clear of this type of activity:

Duplicate content anywhere on your site, but especially on city landing pages. Yes this includes recycling a few keywords here and there to make it look different. You can get away with this for a while, but odds are, Google will catch you and it won’t be fun.” 

What kind of business admits having issues to a client and then refuses to look into a solution? The kind that thinks that it’s in the position of power, as opposed to the paying customer.

Are you mad yet? 

You should be! Because until you go through and audit your site or any of your clients’ sites, you don’t know the full extent of the damages.

Think about it like this: If you were building a house and a building inspector told you there were multiple code violations you needed to fix before construction could continue, what would you expect your contractor to say? Probably that they’d fix the issues immediately, and for free of charge, right? Of course! That’s the job you paid them to do, and they messed up! But, what would you do if instead of offering to fix things, they blamed you and fought with the building inspector on the existence of building codes.

That’s what we’re dealing with here, people.

Example #2: Consistent Ball Dropping

When you can actually get a provider to agree to fix something, you come up against an entirely different set of problems. Because if there’s one thing automotive website providers are good at, it’s dragging their feet and leaving a job half-done.

Now, we all can appreciate what it’s like to run a business–and software that powers hundreds, sometimes thousands of websites is no doubt extremely complicated–but when things seem to consistently be delayed months at a time, something’s got to give.

No, seriously. It’s that bad. 

We gave a time-sensitive job to one provider in order to clean up a newer client’s website. The client came to us after discovering a manual web spam penalty by Google, entrusting us to help them work through the issue. Here’s the list we gave our new client’s provider:

  • 259 pages to be deleted
  • Redirect or fix a number of duplicate pages (which they duplicate by default, I might add)
  • Make certain sitemap is compliant with Google’s guidelines

And here’s what was “completed” about two months later:

  • 24 pages disallowed in robots.txt — which does not have the desired effect
  • 235 untouched, yet-to-be-deleted pages
  • No redirects or fixes to duplicate pages
  • Sitemap still not compliant with Google

What happened?

They assured us multiple times throughout those two months that they were “working” on the issues. But what we really got was a bunch of talk to get us to shut up and go away.

Imagine you bring your car to a dealership to fix an issue and you end up having to leave it over night. The next morning you call to get a status update and they tell you they’re working on it. Not unreasonable, they could be really busy. But what happens if it’s not done the next day or the day after that? You start getting really pissed off!

I mean, really: Calling your provider regularly for two months and getting nothing but “We’re working on it, okay” is anything but okay! We all know that dealerships can’t get away with this type of crappy support and service, so why do the businesses that assist us get away with it time and time again?

Where’s the Outrage?

These are only a couple of examples of the major incompetency that runs rampant at many of the major automotive website providers. In researching similar issues for this blog post, I came across many instances in which dealer website managers dealt with some of the most mind-blowing issues.

The most ridiculous story was from an internet manager who had a list of issues with a particular website provider. The one that stands out the most, though, was the fact that this provider had listed the wrong “Contact Us” number when they originally set the site up.

Don’t worry, it gets worse.

It would be somewhat understandable if someone accidentally entered a wrong digit–and instead of getting their dealership you got the pizza place across town–but the provider had entered the number for a completely different dealership onto their site.

Yes, it gets even worse than that. 

It took five requests and three months for the provider to make ONE LITTLE FIX. So for three months, visitors for their site were greeted by another dealership, which means leads and revenue were flushed down the toiled thanks to a provider that doesn’t hold itself accountable.

If that had happened on my watch, heads would have rolled.

Start Holding Providers Accountable

So what’s the problem here? After dealing with an SEO Manager who doesn’t think duplicate content is an issue and issues that never get resolved, I’ve come to the conclusion that website providers in the automotive industry simply aren’t used to being held accountable, and it’s time that changed.

What does this mean for me as a dealer or manager?

If you haven’t already directly dealt with issues getting your provider to do things right, it’s likely you’re either lucky or your site has yet to be audited in order to uncover the problems plaguing most dealership websites.

With a site audit, you’ll gain a better understanding how website providers are giving you a product that is doing harm to your search engine authority, as well as overall business, the second it goes live.

Wikimotive is proud to offer free site audits to any dealership facing issues with their current provider or dealing with a continuous decrease in monthly traffic. We want to help dealers fix their sites by giving them a solid list of issues to take to their provider to be fixed or advise them to find a better website provider.

This post originally appeared on under the title: "Website Providers are Destroying Dealerships and No One Seems to Care."

Do you agree that most major website providers suck at doing their job? Had a horrible experience with a provider you want to share?

Whether you agree or disagree with this post, let's discuss these issues within the industry in the comments below.

Views: 3907

Tags: automotive, dealer website, providers, suppliers, vendors, website, wikimotive


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Comment by Timothy Martell on May 23, 2014 at 11:17am

Thanks for clearing that up Ralph. You know, I've always been a fan of data over unfounded speculation. ;)

And to the vast group of lurkers out there. I value your privacy, and am always open to offline dialogue. I've helped countless dealers over the years both during my 21 years of retail and since entering the vendor space 4 years ago. While my time is valuable, my advice is always free. I'd welcome a call from anyone. My number is easy to find. Just google my name.

Back to the topic at hand though. If any dealers out there would like to ask about issues they've had with their current provider or perhaps would like some help determining if there are weaknesses, we can address that here in an open forum or via any other medium you might wish. Tell me what you're seeing.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 23, 2014 at 11:05am

Thank you Tim, for creating a post and a discussion which has been at least amusing, if not as focused on your original topic as we might have hoped! As for Alexander's comments regarding visitors to the ADM Community, who they are and who makes comments versus the lurkers who don't register or comment...

On any given week day there are between 800 and 3,000 unique visitors to the ADM Community. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the vast majority of visitors to this site do not comment or post. I have spoken with new members who informed me that they had been visiting the ADM Community for over two years, and just registered that day so they could download a spreadsheet and some phone scripts. 

Earlier today I was going through my LinkledIn messages and one was from a woman who is launching a BDC in her father's dealership. All the materials, scripts, work plans, process charts, etc. that she assembled as was able to download from ADM... She has never posted anything or made any comments. Like many dealers and their families, they are not enthusiastic about showing people what they are in the process of planning, doing, or where they get their information, and from whom. Privacy is an almost extinct commodity these days, so I respect the dealers and managers who do remain observers or what I have called for years, "Lurkers".

As for ulterior motives and hidden agendas... I cannot speak for Tim Martell, Alexander or JD Rucker, or anyone else, but I can say, attest and swear under oath to the fact that since April 2012 my primary source of income has been a combination of me providing consulting services to car dealers and the auto industry suppliers that seek their business.  Among the multiple reasons why I can offer value to my clients, the creation and stewardship of the ADM Professional Community ranks high.

As many of you know, I edit and revise many of the articles and content posted here... Some contributors have chafed at my close inspection of their posts and are no longer here... There have been OVER 1,000 ADM Members that I have personally suspended over the past 6 years because of the garbage, spam and noise they created which detracted from this community achieving its mission... A place where we can all share best practices, what works, what failed and our opinions as to why these things went the way they did.

It seems like every week I am contacted by multiple suppliers wanting to demonstrate their products, apps, services, etc. to me and get my opinion and feedback... This has irritated me in the past, now I consider it a privilege because more so than just about anyone else in the industry, I get to see a majority of the products that are going to be pitched to dealers long before they are shown at NADA, Digital Dealer or any other conference. This allows me to see trends and then observe who gains traction and who does not. 

I get to chuckle a few times, such as when a new supplier shows me a product or "Solution" that is a virtual replica of something we built at Reynolds or ADP a decade ago.  Which does not mean it won't be successful, because timing matters... Along the way I have learned that the tools a dealership buys are not nearly as important as the dealers and their management teams that use them... and how effectively they are being put into action.

Let me finish a point and I will close this excessively long comment... When I study the Google Analytics for the ADM Community I get a very clear picture of who is visiting this site and what they are looking at:

Over 2,000 OEM associates every month access the site through the Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, VW, Mercedes, BMW, etc. named networks hosting their ISP resources.

When I tally up the small percentage of total site visitors from named and branded network access points for retail dealer groups, such as AutoNation, Sonic, Penske, Group 1, Asbury, Hendricks, etc., there are over 5,000 dealership personnel visiting the ADM Community each month via a dealer group branded network access point.

So, my respect for what Tim Martell was advising Alexander is high... Indeed, there are many dealers, managers and auto industry decision makers watching what we post and forming an opinion of each of us based on tone, demeanor, as well as quality of our ideas and our lucidity in expressing them.  In fact, there are several suppliers and consultants who are members of the ADM Community that have shared with me, confidentially, that over half their business comes from client contacts originating within the ADM Community.  I do not consider that a bad thing, but it is proof that all of our clients can see what we post on this network.

Comment by Cathy Nesbit on May 23, 2014 at 9:38am

You're welcome Timothy. 

Alexander, Thanks, we are very happy to have formed a relationship with String. I gotta say, yes, you want things to work, you want proof, you want the products you use to be the most mind blowing products there are & to triple sales every month. We all want that. We also know that no one holds the monopoly on great products & no one wants to work with a jerk. I'm not saying you're a jerk. I'm saying that people are measuring vendor reputation based on those they choose to hire and represent them. I'm speaking in regards to all things these days. If I go to a local store to buy some shoes and the lady working there ignores me I will assume that the owner must not care too much for her customers if she chose someone like that to represent her business. These are the times we live in, as the song goes, that' just the way it is baby. 

So...what were yall sayin about website providers?? :) 

Comment by Timothy Martell on May 23, 2014 at 9:17am

Right you are Cathy. Thanks for speaking up!

Comment by Alexander Lau on May 23, 2014 at 9:16am

Yes Cathy, you are one of the few and I commended you for using String Automotive, a great group and a competitor. Go small!

Proof is in the pudding. Show the leads and conversions you create for dealerships, which ultimately makes them money. Show your processes and how those processes are going to lead to conversions. Sitting around and patting each other on the back is going to get you nowhere. 

Please more dealers and more opportunities to show data that proves your services work! How about a widget Mr. Paglia?

Comment by Cathy Nesbit on May 23, 2014 at 9:11am

Some of those "few internet marketing managers" may have a special hand in choosing vendors & a very trusted opinion in the eye of the dealer. :) 

Some of those "few internet marketing managers" may also get emails on feeds they have commented on & read everyone else's comments. 

Some of those "few internet marketing managers" may also make assumptions about a vendor/potential vendor based on how their representatives conduct themselves on forums like this one. 

To the person who brought out the term "few internet managers",  I'm not singling you out. That expression just stuck out to me so I thought I would chime in on the matter. I think some of you who represent certain vendors think that no one is watching. I'm just saying...they are. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on May 23, 2014 at 9:07am

BTW Tim, I don't speak in absolutes, in fact generally speaking I tell everyone that all of these services are BS, unless you know they are going to work for your specific demographics. Now, any dealer that signs up for services and thinks otherwise is the crack-pot. That's a fact.

Comment by Justin Grubb on May 23, 2014 at 9:04am

I'm a dealer and I comment occasionally. 

Comment by Alexander Lau on May 23, 2014 at 9:00am

I disagree, show me the numbers. I've had LONG conversations with JD Rucker on this same subject and he tends to agree. Are you saying that Dealers lurk on this forum and never comment? Is that how you're defining Dark Social? The 1600+ views are more than likely, mostly from bots.

Comment by Timothy Martell on May 23, 2014 at 8:44am

I find that it is more than rare for a dealer to engage directly on a forum. I'm sure Ralph has the stats of the breakdown of members and usage data. I know they're watching, because we get calls all the time from people who never comment. 

The 1600+ views of this post were not all from us arguing...

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