Parody is spreading throughout the automotive industry. As website providers and SEO gurus push for the same basic things, how is a dealership supposed to get ahead in the Google/Bing rat race? The answer is in doing the things your competitors are not doing.
Here’s what everyone is doing that at one point or another in the recent past was supposed to be the real killer benefit from hiring an SEO company:
- Indexed Inventory: This was a thing a few years ago. Now it’s not. Everyone’s inventory is indexed and most are still not showing up very well in search.
- Title Tags: There is something that can be said about building unique title tags across the entire website, but the majority of website vendors have accepted the practice of unique title tags on most pages.
- Unique Content: This is a point of contention amongst SEOs. There are those who promote the concept that every ounce of content must be unique; we are one of those companies. However, there’s another train of thought that shows that unique content versus semi-unique content (ie spun content from boilerplate templates) does have some effect, but not what many SEO companies promote. It’s not the silver bullet.
- Schema.org: Like unique content, this was supposed to be the silver bullet. Google recommends it. However, several SEOs that I’ve spoken to on the subject admit that it didn’t give the bump they expected. As more web providers plug in microformat data into websites, it’s quickly turning into a non-issue.
- Page Building Tools: This still has legs. The ability to constantly add more manually built pages (versus automated page generation) has a real benefit. However, website providers are giving dealers the tools and yet very few are actually building these pages.
If these are the things that everyone is doing, what are they not doing? What are the differentiators that help dealer websites rank better on the search engines? The answer lies in the past. Inbound links took a hit in the eyes of many SEOs and marketing companies in 2012 when Google rolled out the Penguin update. This was catastrophic for some. Companies closed. Products were dissolved. Many are still in the process of trying to eliminate the low quality links that they built for clients.
There’s a catch. Links still work. They have changed to the point that the old microsite strategies, link wheels, and blog networks no longer have the juice to make it worthwhile. However, high quality links are thriving and still have a tremendous effect on the way that websites perform on search.
The other major offsite factor that some are claiming but few are doing is the social signal component. Again, this is due in large part to the way that Google positioned social signals earlier this year, attempting to “debunk” the concept altogether. However, the studies and results claim something different from what Google has pronounced. The reason that social signals are attacked by Google is because they do not want to make the same mistake they made with links. They let people know that links played a large role in their ranking algorithm and they paid the price. SEOs started figuring out ways to take advantage of this. It took Google years to come up with the Penguin update. They’ve even tried eliminating links altogether from their algorithm, but this short-lived test was disastrous for them.
The same holds true for social signals, so they have to keep that cat safely tucked away in its bag until they can come up with a proper way to judge social signals. They don’t want the manipulative flood gates to open, so they deny them. Again, the studies show that they work. Google says that they don’t and with good reason.
In an extremely competitive automotive digital marketing world, it’s in doing the things that others are not that dealers are able to truly succeed more than their competitors.
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