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Dealer Mandated Sites

Discussion in 'Websites, SEO, SEM, Display, Social, Marketing' started by Bandre, Mar 23, 2010.

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  1. Bandre

    Bandre
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    Noob

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    Hi everyone. I have a question regarding the dealer required Cobalt sites from GM and Hyundai. Our dealership does NOT want these sites to be optimized for search. Instead we'd like our customers to find our own sites for GM and Hyundai. Does anyone have any experience and/or tips for de-optimizing the Cobalt sites so that a different site can rise to the top?
     
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  3. joe.pistell

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    Brandre,

    Careful, Your home site is not a shining light on a hill, it's just one more leaf in the Amazon Forest.

    IMO, don't hide your cobalt sites. You need a strategy session with an accomplished player that specializes in our space (enter Pasch... stage left).
     
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  4. Bandre

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    Hi Joe

    Thanks for the reply. I understand what you mean about being a leaf in the forest, and totally agree with you on this. Having microsites, landing pages, press releases and many other sites in the SERP's that point to our site is definitely a part of our strategy. However, in this case, with the manufacturer Cobalt sites, we'd like to have our website be the one that they visit, if they are going to visit our dealer site. The reasoning here, is that we work so hard to brand our site, make it usable and ultimately gain leads from it. The cobalt sites don't offer the experience we want our customers to have online. Maybe that makes more sense.
     
  5. Alex Snyder

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    Brian and I argue over what is SEO and what is "Customer Experience" every once in a while, and we definitely argue about it when it comes to CoBalt. I too hate the CoBalt sites we're stuck with from MINI, VW, and Hyundai. Because "Customer Experience" is what it is more about I am toying with the idea of giving these CoBalt sites a terrible URL and tell CoBalt to make them un-spiderable.

    Our customers have complained that they were confused which site to use when searching us out on Google. The traffic from the OEM sites is nothing compared to what comes through Google.

    Our VW OEM traffic is roughly 400 visitors a month. Our Google VW traffic is over 5,000 visitors a month.

    However, the traffic that comes through the OEM site is very strong, so there still needs to be some conversion points on the OEM's landing page for us (aka CoBalt). In the meantime CoBalt has agreed to allow us to install some of our own pieces (XTime service scheduler, CRM forms, and some other items). Unfortunately for CoBalt and the OEM they lose the conversion rates when we do this, but this setup works better for us and that's who I care about the most.

    Some A/B testing on this is definitely in order.

    And for the current URL's our CoBalt sites are on.....they would become blog pages or "microsites" to help us better control Google Page One because you can only go so far with CoBalt's system.
     
  6. Bandre

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    Could you elaborate on what you mean by this?
     
  7. Alex Snyder

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    I am toying with the idea of giving our VW CoBalt site this URL to use: http://RandomKeyboardPunchingVW.com then tell them to turn off the site from Google searches.
     
  8. joe.pistell

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    hahaha... I HAD to click on that link, thought you'd take me somewhere strange Alex! Isn't it interesting how powerful links are to human behavior?
     
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  9. Alex Snyder

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  10. joe.pistell

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    I've got no experiences with Cobalt, but can you de-tune it so it does not rank well for your dealerships name?? Can you remove or modify your name on the site so all that is left are it's franchise content?
     
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  11. Alex Snyder

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    Absolutely.

    URL's: Most of the CoBalt URL's are http://dealershipname/miscpage5 or http://dealershipname/VehicleSearchResults?search=blahblahblah so you don't have anything going for you there but your domain.

    Title & meta tags: Waaaaay over-stuffed with absolutely no strategy whatsoever. The default CoBalt settings for filling these areas don't know whether they want to own a dealership name, a car model, an OEM brand name, or a region. Pick one! They're trying to be too much and that's why they'll only rank on a little.

    Content: this is dealer editable for the most part now. However, many of the OEM-dictated sites have a ton of flash in them. I assume the OEM's are just as mesmerized by "pretty" as most dealer principles are. "Pretty" can be done along with conversion, speed, and strategy. I look at some of this stuff and it is obvious they're applying newspaper strategies to a website :banghead: - big flashy ads. Get a clue folks - it is your website, you're only competing for the customer's attention with yourself. You don't need all this crap. .....my tangent for the day.

    Links: CoBalt has no linking strategy that I've ever seen. Maybe it is a special package you have to buy, but it has never been offered to me. Our VW CoBalt site has been around for about 5 years and has 60 links pointing to it. Our VW Dealer.com site has been around for 3 years and has 781 links pointing to it according to Yahoo. Not to mention the other 10,000+ links that point at our Dealer.com group site.

    Just on those 4 items alone, a CoBalt OEM-mandated website could never be strong enough to make anykind of dent in a more progressive SEO campaign without considerable outside help. But the limitations of the platform in itself would still hold it back from full potential. Yes, it ranks well for your dealership name, but I can get that same result in 3 hours of setting up a Wordpress site and then giving it a little link-love later in the week. I just see this juicy domain that CoBalt is using for our VW site and I want it to do my own thing. And because I'm so limited by the CoBalt platform and OEM restrictions I want to put that stuff as far away from my Google results as possible.
     

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