The Bright Sides of BHPH SEO

Search engine optimization is something that most BHPH dealers do not need. The goal of SEO is to expand a market area and does not align with most BHPH needs. Vendors and newcomers to the field simply do not understand that BHPH dealers do NOT want to expand their market area too far.
It doesn't make sense to have customers over 50 miles away; therefore BHPH dealers do not need SEO, right?
Those who have been in this segment of the automotive industry understand that it's much more of a loan-and-collections business rather than one that pushes iron as a primary goal. BHPH dealers want their customers to be within a particular geographic location, one close enough to make payments and possible repossessions easier.
The reason SEO applies to BHPH dealers is two-fold. They want credit leads and they want to defend their reputation. Market expansion is not required and in many cases can be a distraction. Sadly, most vendors in the industry do not understand this.
Credit Leads
This part is simple. Getting ranked for "Bad Credit Car Loans Indianapolis" or "Buy Here Pay Here Santa Ana" is a must. The goal of a proper BHPH strategy is not to go after "Used Cars Santa Ana." While it would be nice to rank for that particular keyword, it will generate fewer sales for most BHPH dealers than getting a good, qualified credit application would.
In many areas it is possible to generate hundreds, even thousands, of credit applications a month with proper SEO and a website geared towards making the application process easy. The goal is to get customers to a page where their basic information can be collected quickly. Long-form credit applications are not as effective. Get their basic information; then have them give their work information, SSN and other information on subsequent pages.
If they abort (and so many do), at least you still have enough information to contact them and see how you can help them with their current situation.
Credit-focused SEO is the key to this.
Reputation Management
As the public (regardless of financial situation) continues to migrate online to do their research and find assistance with their financial problems, search engine reputation is becoming increasingly important for BHPH dealers. Some customers come through referrals, others from advertising. Regardless of how they hear about you, there is a good chance they will search for your store by name in the search engines.
What will they find?
If you have negative reviews, complaints or third-party lead-generators ranked on the first page for your name, people are seeing it and you're losing business as a result.
An ideal strategy will be one that is either managed at the dealership or by a vendor able to ensure that multiple websites, microsites and social media profiles fill the front page of results for a BHPH dealer's name on the search engines. We live in a world with choices and even the most desperate financial situation often offers many different avenues people can use to fill their needs.
For your store, you should give everyone in your area one choice. Allowing third-party lead-generators on a search for your name will either force you to buy the lead from them when it should have been yours anyway, or the lead will be sold to someone else. Having negative reviews may prompt your potential customer to go someplace where they feel more comfortable.
A properly maintained reputation mixed with a strong credit-focused SEO strategy will help to separate the successful BHPH dealers from those who are barely making it (or not making it at all).

Vol. 7, Issue 10