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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Nenni

Paying for SEO, but What are You Getting?

Updated: May 1, 2020

At my recent Digital Dealer session, as I was showing dealers how they can eliminate waste in their monthly digital advertising spend, an interesting question was posed by the audience. The question was, “George, you’re showing us great techniques for finding waste, but where should we redirect those dollars?”. My quick response back was to ask if they were investing in paid search engine optimization (SEO), the answer was “no”. My advice to the audience was to make sure they are always covering the basics in their digital marketing investments, and one of the most very basic is making the necessary investments in paid, managed SEO that drives maximum organic search traffic.

Organic search traffic is the non-paid traffic that arrives at your dealer website from search engines like Google or Bing. It is your most natural form of traffic. These are the people who were specifically looking for your dealership name, your brand, or vehicle makes and models that you sell. If you’ve ever inspected your dealer’s Google Analytics, you know that one of highest quality sources of traffic is organic search. This traffic delivers the highest levels of shopper engagement, including session duration, pages per session, photo engagement, leads, calls, chats and texts. Organic search is the gold standard of inbound dealer website traffic, but you won’t always receive your fair share without investing some time and resources. A dealer could hire an employee with SEO knowledge to help them, or better yet choose from the many qualified vendors who can provide managed SEO.

Most of the dealers I work with are paying for some level of managed SEO, but they don’t know the right questions to ask to hold the provider accountable and to measure success. These dealers may or may not have monthly calls with their SEO provider, going over the prior month’s accomplishments and success metrics. Unfortunately, if regular inspection of managed SEO is ignored, the dealership may not be receiving the work they deserve. Why is this? Many of the agencies and providers who provide managed SEO, also provide paid search products. Paid Search products typically don’t deliver very strong business margins. Unscrupulous providers will bundle paid search with managed SEO, to help beef up their operating margins, while delivering very little SEO value. If the dealership is not paying close attention, and asking the right questions, they may get very little managed SEO for the money they’re spending.

So how do you solve this dilemma? If your dealership is purchasing paid search, and managed SEO, at a minimum they should require their agency to conduct a 30-60-minute review call each month to go over the results. What questions should you ask to make sure you getting quality managed SEO? First, find out what new localized content was created on the site. Have they built quality model landing pages, ideally individual pages for each city or community they wish to rank high with search engines? Do they have an ongoing backlink building strategy for the store, backlinks with high page and domain authority which will also help the dealer’s organic ranking? What is their fixed ops SEO strategy, and are they working to get the dealership on page 1 for key service terms? The dealership should also make sure they are inspecting their 18-month trailing organic search volume to see if the traffic is growing. After all, the ultimate measure of successful SEO should be growth in organic search traffic. In business, getting what you pay for is about choosing the right vendor, asking the right questions, and holding your providers accountable.

If you are an automotive retailer, please reach out if I can help you with any questions on how to better hold your SEO providers accountable.

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