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SEO 101 For Dealers

Discussion in 'Websites, SEO, SEM, Display, Social, Marketing' started by CAORYAN, Aug 24, 2009.

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  1. CAORYAN

    CAORYAN
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    Sr. Refresher

    First Name:
    Ryan
    Dealer or Company Name:
    Black Book USA
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    A little off subject for what I do but I thought I would offer some SEO 101 for car dealers. Take it from someone who see’s 20+ dealer sites on a daily basis. I will cover things most dealers miss, what dealer’s do that actually hurts them, and why they aren’t doing what’s important. You can also pick up some really cool tools that I use that can save you some time and money, maybe even your job.

    I have found that in any vendor business where you are selling to dealerships, TRAINING is vital to making sure the dealer is successful with your product (Cars.com gets it). So how come I haven’t heard of website providers offering free training to their clients on the do’s and don’ts of SEO. My belief is that they are not staffed for it or don’t feel it would help. Let’s face it…you probably don’t have hours a day to invest in SEO practices nor are you educated enough to do it.
    Here is what you need to provide intelligent SEO services for your dealership. You need to know basic HTML code or a CMS that will do it for you, you need basic SEO knowledge, and Last but not least you need time to do it and maintain it. You are not an SEO expert because you follow google on twitter or because you read a blog from some guy called “SEO GURU” and shares all his tips with you.

    This blog could help your search ranking and help protect your job from the super savvy SEO/Internet Director. Don’t count on your site provider to tell you or even wait for that “SEO/Internet Director” to point out all the things you are doing wrong with your site and ask for your job. Be proactive and put your site to the test. Again….these are basic but extremely important things I see missed every day.

    Keyword Research:
    What keywords are you using and are you spread thin? When doing research for keywords keep conversion rate in mind. You want the traffic that hits your site to be relevant and to convert at the highest possible percentage. There are a few tools to help with this: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal this tool is offered for keyword research for adword campaigns but is great for organic keyword research as well. Since everything is going local now they have made a recent change to show you local vs. global. There is a setting on the right hand site of the results you want to play with that a little (Broad, Exact, etc…). Do a search for “used cars” wait a minute don’t get too excited!!! You are not going to land on page 1 of “used cars” and get 16,600,000 hits to your site every month. Find niche keywords like “used cars in my area” has 9,900 searches. Look at “used cars Atlanta” local search is key unless you are shipping cars nationally. Search it and compare your site to those ranking well. See if you think you will be able to rank for that keyword or keywords. I am going to keep this basic so moving forward assuming you have picked your keywords. keep in mind it does matter if you use an "s" or "GA" on the end of words.

    Dealer Negatives:
    Dealerships don’t have a set of a few keywords they want to dominate for. They use millions of them and don’t rank great for any of them except for their own dealer name.

    What To Do With Keywords:
    Ok so here is where I tell you to stick it:rofl:. You will need to (in moderation) drop your keywords in your title tags, meta keywords, meta descriptions, content, and listen dealers even your alt tags for photos. That’s a biggie because I see soooo many dealers with images on their site and you hover over them and it says cropped_image_12797 or car_image_78897. That won’t help you!!! Those tags are there for a reason. I actually did a test and images without alt tags will drop you in local search and organic search in google. Ryan, why so much about google? Well 70% of searches come from google so I suggest you optimize that way. Oh, and yes local is offered by relevance to your searchers. You can dominate local searches for many different cities as a car dealership if you know what you are doing. Oh, almost forgot…do a google search for “home” and tell me where your dealership ranks. Lol it doesn’t rank on the first page I promise you that but majority of sites will rank in some form or fashion because that is the home page name. "Home" should be a place holder not the name of your "home" page. So drop your keywords in your page names if it makes since. Don't go crazy with this..people need to know it's your home page. Have your URL read clean (example: www.contactatonce.com/chat). A lot of times you will see www.contactatonce.com/chat?#huo#iha or something crazy. That won’t help you. Google has stated that is NOT good (Source @mattcutts). Eliminate symbols in your URL’s. Before Contact At Once went to Wordpress we had the same issue with the URL’s. WAIT!!! Before you go changing your URL’s keep in mind you may have positive deep links and inner links you will have to take care of. Do that first!

    Title Tags:
    uummm here is where I laugh most the time with dealers. Dealers will offer 1000 title tag words trying to keyword stuff. Let me help you here. You are diluting your good keywords and probably are not ranking as well as you should. This is the case with probably 95% of all the dealer websites I see.

    Keywords In Text:
    Offer keywords you want to rank well for in your text. Keep in mind that Google’s Algorithm measures keyword density and if you do like most dealers at the bottom of your page you will see something like a content section or a small scroll bar with text reading like…..
    Serving: car dealer atlanta, used cars Atlanta, car dealer Alpharetta, used trucks, used trucks Duluth, norcross, roswell, macon, lawrenceville, suwanee, Buford, Georgia.
    That’s the short version but what is that? Make it read well!!! Choose a few really good keywords and go after them. Don’t dilute your entire site with keywords.

    Flash Sites:
    However lovely you may think they are….they are NOT!! Why? Glad you asked….#1 reason is I have found that not everyone is running a 10 meg connection at their house or workplace like I do. Flash takes time to load and sometimes doesn’t. The majority of mobile devices can’t process flash as of right now. Search engines cannot crawl video yet. I did hear Adobe and google are working on it. So your option is to add keywords behind the video. NOT a good idea. Google is pretty clear when it comes to hiding text. Have you heard how hard it is to get back into google once you have been blacklisted? If done in moderation you should be fine but hiding keywords behind flash is not recommended. You probably want to treat this like alt tags. Effective but don't use to many keywords. Name it and move on.

    Links:
    Ahh links… the baby that fuels google search. OK so you may have never thought about this but you and I are the brains behind how sites rank. Follow me here….let’s say your dealer site is a page rank 5. That’s pretty good. You link to my site Contact At Once. Google sees that link and the text reading “dealer chat:cool: and says hhhmmm this dealer says “this is a good link for dealer chat” and begin ranking your site better for “dealer chat”. So why do you need to know this? You need what we call “back links.” These are links back to your dealership website. Wanna know who is linking to you now? Check out webmaster tools for google for the most detailed info. They will give you where the link is coming from, what the anchor text is, and how many links you have.

    You may want to check your competitor’s sites here Link Popularity Check - Marketleap Search Engine Marketing Tools
    It isn’t such a bad thing for navigation and for search crawlers to have inner links with great anchor words. For instance, We sell “new cars”... link to your new cars page.

    Suggestion: ask your competitors back links to link to you as well if they are not a spammy type of a site.

    Note: be careful here don’t link from anywhere you don’t want people finding when they search you.

    Blog:
    I am starting to see more blogs on dealer site. These are great for many reasons….keywords, google loves them, and well you can get your message out. Keep it real and know that all above applies here.

    Remember text is king!!!


    Here are a few people I have followed over the last few years to help you on your journey to actually becoming a “SEO Guru.”

    www.mattcutts.com (Works for google…gives great inside info)
    www.bruceclay.com (one of the market leaders in staying ahead of search)
    www.webpronews.com (they are great for getting all info from many different sources)
    www.searchengineland.com (another great site that puts out a lot of great articles)
    www.seomoz.org (offers these wonderful graphs like you see below)

    [​IMG]Broad algorithmic elements to Google’s rankings

    24%Trust/Authority of the Host Domain
    22%Link Popularity of the Specific Page
    20%Anchor Text of External Links to the Page
    15%On-Page Keyword Usage
    7%Visitor/Traffic & Click-Through Data
    6%Social Graph Metrics
    5%Registration & Hosting Data
     
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    #1 CAORYAN, Aug 24, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
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  3. JohnScott

    JohnScott
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    Dont forget about Google local business center, where you can update an image of your storefront and other info into google maps. I did a quick search at maps "automobile dealers virgina beach" and the only listing A thru J that had a photo was "J" Mercedes Benz of USA.
     
  4. CAORYAN

    CAORYAN
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    Ryan
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    Good point...I wanted to keep it very basic but on that note...many dealers don't use there tracking numbers for google local either. Just FYI!
     
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  5. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder
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    DealerRefresh
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    Maybe you should have clicked through to other pages. There are tons! The MileOne stores have photos, and so do the Checkered Flag locations...of course!
     
  6. JohnScott

    JohnScott
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    Im not sure you understood what I was saying, I was talking about the image that pops up, or in these cases doesnt pop up.

    For instance, this address,
    5225 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23462

    Checkered flag BMW, there is no image.

    Currently this is all you see,

    [​IMG]Full-screen[​IMG]Address:[​IMG]
    Removal requested ()Restore requestedEdited - - Placement on map is approximate
    5225 Virginia Beach Blvd
    Virginia Beach, VA 23462





    The smart center has this,




    Category:
    Unverified listing
    [​IMG]


    Thats all I was talking about, not that there were only a few listings, I know I was only viewing one page.

    I guess some of it depends on how you search, by address, but all of the checkered flags images are logos, not storefronts, which isnt really what people use google maps and street view for. IMHO they use it to SEE the storefront.
     
    #5 JohnScott, Aug 24, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2009
  7. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder
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    First Name:
    Alex
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    DealerRefresh
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    Ryan - great thread. It is probably too much to digest for some on a 101 level, but you're right on many points.

    What is the number 1 reason why dealers have not engaged in SEO yet?
    They concentrate mostly on a pretty website and don't really care about anything else. This is because the decision makers have never dealt with advertising of this depth or magnitude. There is almost too much depth! Most just want to stroke a monthly check and never have to worry about it again while they concentrate on things they know. It will be a long time before the Internet-savvy are sitting in the decision-maker positions.

    What is the number 2 reason why dealers have not engaged in SEO yet?
    Our site providers do not offer the ability to change titles, meta, or any other SEO data. And if they do, they don't do it easily. I believe you're going to see this change soon. Some of the leading website providers are getting ready to open this up to dealers or implement automatic scripts that build keywords for SEO areas based off of certain criteria.
     
  8. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder
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    President Skroob

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    Alex
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    DealerRefresh
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    :thinker:

    [​IMG]

    EDIT: Just realized this is coming from a different address. Yes, Google has been problematic for 5225 Virginia Beach Blvd because we have 6 businesses at that address. It seems Google doesn't know what to do with it. I've been fighting that one for a while.
     
  9. JohnScott

    JohnScott
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    Yeah, I noticed some different views depending on address. But again, my point is that people dont use google maps to see logos, they use it to see your storefront, and I believe that they are more likeley to go to street view if they see a store front they like.

    Another thing about Street view is that if google happened to be driving by on a rainy or cloudy day the dealership for lack of a better term doesn't appear that "bright or cheery". just a thought, these are all off the cuff first impressions.

    Dont take these posts personally, Im here to learn, and give back what I can.
     
  10. Alex Snyder

    Alex Snyder
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    First Name:
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    That is the point of DealerRefresh.

    I get extremely frustrated with Google. Especially when it comes to Google Local. It has improved recently, but it still is far from perfect. I think they bit off a bit more than they can currently chew with trying to link-up review sites, phone numbers, web pages, and other things with their local listings pages.

    For instance:

    Judy's Book seems to be the review site that gets the most reviews in our local listings. However, there are multiple new reviews on Judy's book in the last few months and those still aren't showing. A customer even left a review directly on our Google Local page and it took 3 months for that to show up. We have done everything we can to match our local business information up with Dealer Rater and all that did was make the old Dealer Rater reviews go away. So, our Toyota store had over 40 reviews at one point and is now down to 12 - all old. So, when it comes to Google Local they're not providing customers with the most relevant info right now.

    As for displaying the proper information, again, we're at the mercy of Google. I've been trying for years to get Google to display the right phone numbers, URL's, and even physical addresses for our various locations. They updated the business center and this made things a little better, but it still isn't 100% - maybe 80% currently. Of those 6 "businesses" at 5225 Virginia Beach Blvd, I can only change 2. Google will not allow me to change anymore.

    We also have a single phone number 757 490-1111 that has been fantastic for us. It has been our phone number for 45 years and we are not about to change that. However, that one phone number absolutely kicks my ass with Google Local because they want to link things up by phone number. So that image I posted of "Checkered Flag BMW" is actually showing the address for "smart center Virginia Beach". It is okay because they're essentially on the same campus, but it shows the inaccuracies.

    I am always reading the "SEO Guru" blogs and "Google Guru" stuff, despite what Ryan recommends, trying to figure out how to fix things in the local pages and increase exposure in the organic results.
     
  11. JohnScott

    JohnScott
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    I just noticed that in "LOCAL BUSIESS RESULTS" when I did a search for "bmw dealer virginia beach".

    Thats odd, one would think you could just email google and ask them to change it for each location. But I dont know a lot about the process yet.

    That is a great number.

    Thanks for the links.
     

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