The SEM Thieves Aren’t Even Trying Anymore!

The SEM Thieves Aren’t Even Trying Anymore!

A Google Analytics map hit my inbox today that can only be described as mind-numbingly incredible. Incredible, in that it is simply not credible. The map, displayed below, shows where this anonymous dealer’s website traffic originated from last month.

bot traffic?

No, this is not the board from the game of Risk. This is a small dealer’s Google Analytics traffic for July 2018. A dealer, by the way, that should be getting 3,000 to 4,000 unique visits a month. However, thanks to the “stellar” results from their PPC provider, they enjoyed over 23,000 unique visitors to their site!

This dealer has about 160 units (new/used combined) in stock.

They’re in a relatively small market.

They’re a single-point dealer selling a brand outside of the Top 10 in the US.

Sending in 20,000+ bots (or “human” visits from overseas click farms) in a single month represents either pure stupidity or an audacious instance of hubris by one of the big PPC providers in automotive. I’m truly confused as to which it is.

The map reveals, in my opinion, that the dealership’s vendor is paying for fake traffic in an effort to show traffic increases and to drive up their SEM commissions. What’s idiotic about this effort is not so much the company sending in the fake traffic, it’s how much traffic they delivered… and from where they delivered it.

I don’t want to teach the cheaters how to cheat, but heck fire, why’d you send in so many bots? Why didn’t you at least have the brains to buy from a scammer who could show them originating in the dealer’s own market?

These bots and click-farm visitors, of course, didn’t call the dealership. They didn’t complete lead forms. They didn’t initiate chat conversations. They just visited the dealer’s website in some misguided attempt (again, in my opinion) to fool this dealer into thinking he’d discovered the digital marketing magic pill.

There is no magic pill.

When Will OEMs & Dealers Catch On?

I assume, because the OEMs and most dealers haven’t heeded the public warnings about SEM theft over the last year, that this will continue to occur on a regular basis for most dealers for quite some time. It’s too bad, of course, because it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you’re a dealer, here are a couple of steps you can take right now:

  1. Watch this 73-minute video with your digital marketing manager and your GM: (Yes, all three of you should watch together; and you should watch the whole thing.)
  2. Forward this article to the CEO at your OEM (or, at least to one of the dealers on your dealer council):

That’s it. That’s all it takes to regain control of what I consider to be the biggest (and easiest-to-uncover) fraud ever perpetrated on America’s dealers: dishonest search engine marketing.

Good selling!