|For most dealers, search engine optimization and pay-per-click marketing are the primary methods for driving traffic to the dealership Web site. It is targeted and localized, and the return on investment is amazing compared to other forms of marketing.|
Establishing a stronger presence through Web 2.0 can drive traffic to a Web site and greatly improve a dealer’s search rankings on Google, Yahoo and the other search engines. The social Web revolution has been taking the Internet by storm for a few years now, but has only recently become a buzzword in the automotive industry. Blogs, social media and social networks are all excellent forms of traffic-drivers if applied properly.
If mishandled, however, they can actually have the opposite effect.
They can be used to highlight different aspects of the dealership from a perspective that isn’t necessarily sales-driven. There can be articles about employees of the month, charitable sponsorships, local events in which the dealership participates, manufacturer news, exciting new models coming out, spotlights on special customers, etc.; the possibilities are endless. There are three keys to remember with a blog:
Dealers can do it themselves. There are free resources out there such as www.wordpress.com and www.blogger.com that offer ways for people who are not tech-oriented to start a blog. For a small amount of money, dealers can purchase a domain, find a free or inexpensive theme, and make a more professional-looking blog.
Unless a dealership is prepared to invest the time and energy required to maintain a fresh and impressive blog, they should either hire an expert or not blog at all. A bad blog with old stories can turn a customer off just as quickly as a good blog can turn them on. Ask your Web site vendor how they can help you put out something you want people to see.
Another option is to use the personalized social networking sites. Ning.com and GoingOn.com are two of the most popular entrants into this segment. They are part blog, part social network and part forum, all rolled into one. Personal social networks like these have amazing results if handled well. An additional benefit of these sites is that they can be set on autopilot once they are built up.
If you search on Google for “Car Dealer Social Network,” you’ll find http://autodealers.ning.com. This is a great place to explore the potential of a social network for your dealership. More importantly, these sites can be used like blogs to both drive traffic to your primary site and improve your rankings in the search engines through link optimization.
The solution is to use social media as a secondary optimization push. While submitting a dealership’s Web site to Digg.com would be pointless, writing an article on a blog that discusses and links to the dealership and then “digging” that blog post can help. This secondary layer of link-building is too advanced for most automotive SEO vendors. If they aren’t using these tools (or worse, if they are using them improperly and spamming your link across networks), then you should find a vendor who does use these tools and, just as important, uses them correctly.
A properly-run Web 2.0 optimization campaign is difficult to find. It takes time to research and more time to implement, but it is the gasoline that drives your Web site. You can have the best meta-tags and content in the world, but without the high-octane links to drive your Web site forward, you’d better hop out and start pushing.