What Your SEO (and Maybe Your Website Vendor) Doesn’t Want You to Know!
If you’re an average car dealer – and I do mean just average – you’re likely wasting more than $25,000 every year on basically worthless Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For some of you, you’re actually the victims of outright fraud; though for most of you, you are certainly experiencing some form of theft (intentional or otherwise).
What’s worse is that your OEM is often an unwitting partner in this theft.
The ROI of Digital
Let’s be clear, there is no marketing spend a dealership can make that has the opportunity to provide more visibility to the actual “Return” part of Return on Investment (ROI) than digital marketing – and this includes SEO.
Make no mistake, your SEO spend is a digital marketing spend; it’s not a technology or maintenance spend. You’re paying for SEO for one purpose: To drive more in-market shoppers to your website. That fits the very definition of marketing.
The Boy Who Cried Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird
The problem for dealerships is that you are often held hostage by your SEO vendor simply because SEO has become such a confusing world (often thanks to this very same SEO vendor). Automotive is filled with those spreading SEO doomsday scenarios that (wrongly) predict how the latest Google update is going to push you off Page One for your own name!!!
Moreover, whether it’s your website company or an outside SEO vendor providing you with search optimization, dealers have almost no visibility into their relative performance. There is no real report card of your SEO’s activities, especially as this relates to your competition. (Remember: Competition is the ONLY reason you need SEO. No competition, no worries about who shows up first in a Google search, right?)
But, Steve, my website company gives me a “detailed” SEO report every month!
No they don’t.
For most of you, you’re seeing some pretty charts and the ranking of a few worthless or obvious keywords chosen by your vendor that show you on top nationwide. Sometimes these keywords are for searches that almost no one ever types into Google, like “honda prelude parts spokane washington.” More often, they are those that only your site should show up in the top spot, like “ford dealer near irving texas.” (It would be a form of malpractice if your site didn’t rank on top for your brand and town, right?)
Without getting too much into the weeds, your SEO uses obscure keyword strings in their reporting because it’s easier to optimize for uncommon long-tail terms – since no one else is trying to capture these searches. Also, a dealership like yours likely generates most of its qualified traffic from relatively few keywords your SEO is pushing.
Plus, SEO providers are often forced to use geographic qualifiers in their reporting, like your town name, since their data often comes from searches conducted hundreds or thousands of miles from your dealership.
Of course, the reports you should demand to see are those that show exactly where your dealership ranks (and where all your competitors rank) for keywords searched by local consumers. Searches like “ford dealer near me” or simply “ford dealer.” (But, they can’t show you those, because their servers are not in your PMA.)
So, Should I Cancel My SEO?
Not just yet.
Great SEO is priceless for most dealerships. In the right market, great SEO could drive a vast amount of additional traffic and sales that your site would not have enjoyed without the SEO boost. Of course, the reverse is also true. Bad (or no SEO) could be costing your dealership much more than your monthly SEO spend.
Let’s be clear, SEO is not pure science. In some ways, SEO is an art. Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately for car dealers, in the world of SEO, the vendors also happen to be the beholders. That is, it’s the SEO vendors who tell their dealer-clients, the value of a given piece of SEO.
Certainly, this makes it especially easy for some SEO vendors to take advantage of dealers – again, intentional or otherwise. It’s because of this that I’ve only recommended a couple of SEO providers over the years – and, except for one who really isn’t even accepting new clients at this time, I cannot honestly recommend one today.
Science in the SEO
The SEO provider I know (who is so good he’s not accepting new clients), has made it easy for any dealer to truly break through the “art” provided by their SEO vendor and evaluate the science (and the effectiveness) of any SEO.
He’s created a “box” that rests in the dealer’s PMA (or anywhere the dealer wants) and measures the dealership’s search visibility and the search visibility for all of the dealer’s competition as they appear to local prospects. Local being the key word here.
All Search Is Local
For dealers, all search is local. It does no good for you to rank high nationally for obscure keywords if you’re not also ranking in the first spot for core searches like “ford dealer near me.” This “box,” which is called SearchStation, is the only comprehensive LOCAL report card for dealers who want to make sure their SEO investment is paying off where it counts.
SearchStation is actually a breeze to set up and can even be moved to different locations throughout your market (or competitive markets) in order to generate the kind of exact reporting that can only be created with data collected on-the-ground. (That is, the exact results your local customers are seeing when they search in-market keywords like “ford dealer” on their mobile devices.)
What About my SEM Spend?
SearchStation does more than just hold your SEO provider accountable, it also helps dealers optimize and reduce their SEM/PPC spend by showing you exactly where you’re wasting money on certain keywords.
For example, if your dealership is already ranking in the top three spots organically for a given keyword, it makes little sense to waste PPC dollars chasing that keyword. Use that budget for those words where you’re not on top. (By the way, the only people who will argue with my logic here are those selling pay-per-click and Google – follow the money!)
Yes, Follow the Money
I feel privileged to be able to represent this product in the US. SearchStation will literally change everything about bad SEO providers overnight (and will make good SEO even better) by creating real SEO accountability once and for all. But, make no mistake: I don’t run a charity. I will earn a referral fee if you buy SearchStation via this recommendation.
So follow the money. Don’t just take my word for it; set up a demo with you and your SEO provider on the same webinar. SearchStation would be happy to show them how much this little box will help you, the dealer, our mutual client.
Steve Stauning, is the founder of pladoogle, LLC, a company dedicated to driving real value for clients by cutting through the smokescreens and clutter the average vendor likes to deliver. In fact, he’s so dedicated to car dealers and their success, he gives his online video training away for FREE! To learn more about Steve or to enjoy his free online training, just visit SteveStauning.com