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DEALERSHIP BLOGS... WHO'S STILL DOING THEM?

Alexander Lau

Sr. Refresher
Feb 11, 2015
2,189
606
113
First Name
Alex
@Alex Snyder is spot on, it's absolutely all about relevance. Simply put, you have to figure out what works for your demographic = what converts and what doesn't. Understand the value of the content.

Still doing them, you ask? Sh*t... in the auto retail website world, they were never really done (on a wide-scale level) correctly in the first place and I know that from having done 7,500+ individual blog posts for 200+ rooftops and analyzing a ton of their competition (as part of our content generation strategy) and the competition's attempt was rubbish. I say rooftops, because (obviously) the content is going to differ (especially for new cars, even across the same dealer group).

I'd never allow a massive content production group or CDK or DDC to touch your content. That's typically co-opable dollars and frankly, they could care less if your competition does better than you (especially if on the same web platform, yeah that game that most of us know). I've always gone to bat for a separate non-compliant website option for inventory freedom and convertible content.

IMO, any dealership that signs up for "SEO" or "On-Site Content Marketing" and doesn't get a report with keyword conversions (SEO software for attribution / accountability purposes, gShift measures keywords for their conversion prowess, etc.) should look the opposite direction and that kinda goes without saying.

It's not necessarily about the increase in multimedia versus textual content and holding someone's attention. It's about what's bringing the visitor to the site in general and understanding their intent (organic attribution). If a video does that OK, but we're not there (entirely) from a on-site video conversion extent. The majority of organic searches and entry points are achieved through textual content, not video.

Today (if I were a dealer) and I used to work at https://strongautomotive.com, I'd use their blog production tool. It trumps anything to do with what I've seen out of Automotive Organic / SEO "expert" groups. Ask for Gayle Rogers (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gaylerogers3). They have a nifty, proprietary, dynamic inventory pluck / insertion option that enables them to use blog posts as fantastic lead conversion points. It's killer!
 
Reactions: Billy B

Dane Saville

Getting Refreshed
Jan 31, 2018
62
54
18
First Name
Dane
Are there any other content types you'd like to see from a dealer that you think would actually be effective? Vlogs are everyone's go-to content right now, but I'm still interested in learning what other content would be appropriate for dealerships to host on their site.
I think there's a place for content of all mediums. It depends on what the purpose of the content is and who's going to consume it. Let's say there's some search demand for understanding different dashboard icons. If you want to deliver content that both educates and most efficiently satisfies the query, then a basic infographic could be great (think mobile-first, of course). If it's how to latch and unlatch your truck bed cover, then a video would likely do. If it's about the reliability or safety of a specific brand, then an easy-to-read blog might be best.

While nobody can overstate the importance of video, there's definitely still a need for variety. We have a blog about the breakdown of Porsche models that gets hundreds of views per week with about a minute of time-on-site. If we were a dealership, we could've localized it more -- through a number of strategies we conceived at the time -- and linked to filtered SRPs. We did it to test if an organization with no authority on a subject could, when you find an unfulfilled need, acquire links, traffic, and relevance for that type of search -- such as if you perform a site migration and need some content to help build up authority quickly. We often outrank Porsche.com depending on how the query is typed. If we don't outrank them, we're second.

Think about what is the goal (how can you deliver on the shopper's intent and expectations = relevance) and what's the way a shopper can consume it with as little friction as possible.
 

Billy B

Noob
Jan 25, 2018
16
12
8
First Name
Billy
Absolutely key to have this kind of content on your site, but ...

The major challenge is blogging just to blog and feel like you're doing something productive.

Blogging is best when:

  • You're repurposing content for other platforms as well.

    Example: creating a video blog entry, posting it to social, using it in ad campaigns, emailing it to customers

  • It's part of a very strategic SEO plan to build keyword relevance, domain authority
 

Billy B

Noob
Jan 25, 2018
16
12
8
First Name
Billy
@Alex Snyder
I'd never allow a massive content production group or CDK or DDC to touch your content. That's typically co-opable dollars and frankly, they could care less if your competition does better than you (especially if on the same web platform, yeah that game that most of us know). I've always gone to bat for a separate non-compliant website option for inventory freedom and convertible content.

IMO, any dealership that signs up for "SEO" or "On-Site Content Marketing" and doesn't get a report with keyword conversions (SEO software for attribution / accountability purposes, gShift measures keywords for their conversion prowess, etc.) should look the opposite direction and that kinda goes without saying.
Great post!

Completely agree on these points, particularly about using big content groups to manage SEO. It's a money sink, and product that's built to sell at scale, not drive real tangible results.

For this reason I've always referred dealers to high caliber, small to mid-size SEO teams (that do what you've said here) that don't just play in the automotive space and truly understand what will move the needle on rankings, traffic & conversions.
 

Alex.Lemoing

Getting Refreshed
Jul 15, 2013
46
16
8
First Name
Alexandre
I've been writing the majority of the blog posts for https://www.subaruoftwinfalls.com/blog/index.htm, and the dealership has been very successful at ranking organically for a few very good keywords. There is original content, video transcript, vehicle comparison and local things related to the region.

The blog content rarely closes leads however it's a great way to get exposure and backlinks to the website, which in the end is beneficiary to the website's overall rankings.
 
Reactions: Alexander Lau

Billy B

Noob
Jan 25, 2018
16
12
8
First Name
Billy
Great discussion here!

Just want to add... blogging on your own site to no end is not nearly as impactful as having blog content on OTHER sites (with high domain authority) that link to your site. In a white-hat, clean, non-scummy way of course.

I'm by no means an SEO killer (although I worked in that space quite a bite) but links are still the biggest ranking factor.

I know link-building isn't quite on topic to the original question here, but I've seen this as a typical pitfall with SEO in general.

In other words, search engines love what you say about yourself (meta tags, onpage, blogging, etc). But search engines LOVE what others have to say about you (link building, blog posts, etc).

If you work with an SEO provider that talks blogging, on-page optimization, your site content, tweaking keywords.... and is shying away from the conversation of building a healthy backlink profile (because THAT is the hard work that actually gets big results)? Red flag!
 
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Ryan Thompson

Sr. Refresher
Apr 21, 2010
401
59
28
First Name
Ryan
I've been writing the majority of the blog posts for https://www.subaruoftwinfalls.com/blog/index.htm, and the dealership has been very successful at ranking organically for a few very good keywords. There is original content, video transcript, vehicle comparison and local things related to the region.

The blog content rarely closes leads however it's a great way to get exposure and backlinks to the website, which in the end is beneficiary to the website's overall rankings.
Great job Alex!! Quick one... for the video transcripts, is there a service you use to churn those out? I love the idea of repurposing YouTube Videos we've already created into blog posts.
 

Ryan Thompson

Sr. Refresher
Apr 21, 2010
401
59
28
First Name
Ryan
Great discussion here!

Just want to add... blogging on your own site to no end is not nearly as impactful as having blog content on OTHER sites (with high domain authority) that link to your site. In a white-hat, clean, non-scummy way of course.

I'm by no means an SEO killer (although I worked in that space quite a bite) but links are still the biggest ranking factor.

I know this wasn't quite the question/topic but it's something to keep in mind with SEO in general.

If you work with an SEO provider that talks blogging, on-page optimization, your site content, tweaking keywords.... and is shying away from the conversation of building a healthy backlink profile (because THAT is the hard work that actually gets big results)? Red flag!
Great point Billy.. I've been getting myself refreshed in the world of SEO with a few podcasts, and this still seems to be the #1 priority for the SEO's out there. Now how the hell is a little old Chev Dealer like me going to get some high quality backlinks from the authority monsters out there?
 
Reactions: Billy B

Billy B

Noob
Jan 25, 2018
16
12
8
First Name
Billy
Now how the hell is a little old Chev Dealer like me going to get some high quality backlinks from the authority monsters out there?
GREAT question my man.

Not going to sugar coat it, the bad news is this is fairly difficult to tackle on your own (especially if you're just getting yourself refreshed in the SEO world).

You need to:
  • Know exactly what keywords you want to target and why (evaluate traffic volumes, search demand + trends, competitive analysis: how difficult will it be to get traction on target keywords and why?)
  • Build a conversion-based strategy around opportunity keywords (organic traffic with no action = no good)
  • Know a VERY good writer that can produce content for you and for your content outreach
  • Know which sites to reach out to (with high domain authority)
  • Get them to publish your content (in a non-scummy, white hat way)
  • Continue to publish similar content on your own site
Lots to unpack in each of those areas as well. You'll need to ask yourself if you want to do this and do it consistently.

Would I want to ? Hell no.

BUT you're doing the right thing by continuing to educate yourself, so regardless of your direction (hiring, executing internally) you'll avoid pitfalls, bullshit and snake oil.

If you don't want to deal with that gauntlet OR hire an SEO agency, the most direct path to earning high authority links is to:
  1. ideate something big (event, giveaway, community involvement, customer story, solve a big community issue)
  2. make sure local news outlets know about it,
  3. make sure they're interested and willing to write about it AND include a link to your site
  4. do it (i.e. once you've validated they'll do it)
#3 is so important. MAKE SURE THEY CAN INCLUDE A LINK TO YOU.

And I intentionally put #4 at the end.

Last thing you want to do is plan something big, ASSUME it will get attention, do it, then get crickets when you reach out to news outlets. Validate, get commitment, execute.

Examples of others that have done this:

https://www.toronto.com/news-story/7542902-urban-hero-nasser-rad-gives-away-cars-and-hope/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/drive/news/article-everything-you-need-to-know-about-auto-subscriptions-ahead-of-their/

DISCLAIMER: I know SEO well from a strategic standpoint (used to lead teams/strategy in previous roles at agencies) but I'm not the guy to ask how to execute on the granular details.

P.S. Happy to refer you to a really great SEO guy here in Canada but don't want to be "that guy" and include it in this post. Feel free to DM me if you like though.

Cheers and hope this helps!
 
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