Article

Search Engine Marketing: Make It Work For You

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Ali Amirrezvani - Also by this author

Its official: more companies are turning away from traditional advertising venues and toward search engine marketing and e-mail marketing. Advertisers in the United States and Canada spent $5.75 billion on search engine marketing in 2005, a 44 percent increase over 2004, according to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization. That is a huge gain and all indicators point to continued growth: the same organization projects that spending on search engine marketing will reach $11 billion by the year 2010.

Companies are moving money away from traditional advertising venues like direct mail marketing pieces, because they cost far more per converted sale than online advertising (Stepforth.com). As more and more people turn to the Internet to research planned purchases, gain information and buy goods, you need to follow them and place advertising where more eyes will see it.

So what constitutes search engine marketing? The term includes paid placements, paid inclusion and organic search engine optimization. Currently, the bulk of the spending is on paid placement programs, where listings are guaranteed to appear in response to particular search terms, with higher ranking typically obtained by paying more than other advertisers. While paid placement is a great way to get your company name in front of the eyes of potential buyers, a well-rounded online marketing plan should include more than just one technique. Following are quick definitions for the two other search engine marketing techniques as well as pros and cons of using them:

Paid Inclusion

Paid inclusion is an advertising program where pages are guaranteed to be included in a search engine’s index in exchange for payment, though no guarantee of ranking well is typically given. So your page or Web site will be ranked based on its relevance to the given search terms, not based on position. Since there is no guarantee that you’ll get any traffic, these programs are like playing ‘search engine lottery’. You may not hit the jackpot with a ton of visitors, but since you are buying additional listings you may have more chances of appearing in various searches. If this happens, you may get plenty of quality visitors with less expense than through paid placement advertising programs.

Organic Search Engine Optimization

This type of program lists and rates Web sites according to factors such as keyword relevancy within a Web page as compared to the specific search terms. In other words, the listings are not influenced by direct financial payments, only by effective search engine optimization. This type of program can save you money, but you will probably have to hire an individual or company to effectively optimize your site. A professional knows how to increase your site ranking with links, strategically placed keywords, meta tags and more.

It’s obvious that the marketing tide is turning towards the Internet, not only because it is less expensive to reach more people than traditional advertising, but also because search engine marketing has several significant advantages over traditional venues, including:

  • Up to the minute information – whether through a targeted email or by pulling up your site in an online search - your customers can get the most recent information about your dealership, including notices of special offers and sales. You cannot deliver this kind of immediate information with a mailed marketing piece.
  • Makes you easier to find – numerous surveys have shown that search engines and directories are the most popular method used to find Web sites.
  • People use search engines a lot – most web users search the web everyday, how many people do you know who read a magazine or a newspaper everyday?
  • You get qualified buyers – the traffic that you get from search engines and directories is highly qualified because the users are actively searching for the information. This is a huge difference from blanketing a chosen area with a mailed piece.

Search engine marketing is here and it’s growing. If your dealership hasn’t explored how it can increase your leads and revenue, it’s time to find out. While traditional marketing and advertising venues are here to stay and are still useful, the best way to compound their effectiveness and increase your public exposure is to dive into the online world. There are companies in the dealer space who can help you maximize your online efforts, seek them out and watch your sales grow.

Vol 3, Issue 6

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