Article

2007 Myths About SEO & SEM

February 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Todd Swickard - Also by this author

2006 was supposed to be the year for search.  Dealers were expected to embrace it and find their way in the world of online marketing.  Dealers did embrace the online world of marketing – but through a lot of trial and error.  Numerous vendors joined the parade and have tried to offer dealers a solution that makes sense for them.  Now, we are on to the wild and wonderful world of 2007.  So, is this really the year for search marketing?

I would like to think that dealers learned a lot this year.  Every vendor was pitching a product to them with a little different twist.  I think many dealers were confused about what they really needed and what to expect from online marketing.  So, let’s set the record straight by dispelling seven major search marketing myths, so you can make decisions this year that help your dealership succeed online.

Myth 1:  Online searches are going to run out in the automotive sector.
 
Searching has become more and more complex.  Consumers are doing more research online before they ever hit your lot.  Remember how much you emphasized the importance of being found in the paper or yellow pages 10 years ago?  You now have to make sure that when someone searches online your dealership is on the list of results, preferably on or near the top.  Search volume in automotive continues to climb, and this allows more dealers to make sure their dealerships are in front of customers.

Myth 2:  The engines are getting easier to advertise in.

Search has become more complex than a year ago.  It was simple to set up a campaign in Google or Yahoo! a year ago and make everything go as planned.  Now, with more competitive online advertising, local targeting, mobile ads, graphic ads and day parting, it has become a full-time job to keep up and make sure you are up to date on all the new products the engines are delivering.

Myth 3:  All search engine companies are the same.

If you are like any other dealer, you have been bombarded with ads, e-mails and sales calls to sign up for search marketing campaigns.  Choose your vendor wisely.  Make sure you ask questions and that their priorities are your priorities.  Some offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO), some use proxy sites, some use landing pages and others just buy words or other placement for you.  It all comes down to the basics of getting more traffic, more leads and more sales, but make sure you consider multiple vendors before hopping on board with the first one that approaches you.

Myth 4:  Proxy pages are the best way to track search marketing.

Let’s settle this debate at the first of the year so we can get more productive things started in 2007.  Proxy pages do not go to your Web site, so choosing a proxy page (mirrored site) traps you to that vendor.  Proxy pages cannot be optimized in a search engine.  Proxy pages do offer tracking, but does it really outweigh finding solutions with your Web provider?  You spent hundreds of thousands of dollars advertising your Web site, so why compromise that?

Myth 5:  Landing pages convert the highest.

Landing page conversion is easy and can be argued as one of the best ways to track people hitting your site – if you were selling iPods.  Last time I checked, most people reading this magazine are auto dealers.  So, if someone is searching: “2006 Honda Accord,” are they searching for a new one, a used one, leasing offers, service, parts or accessories?  Now, if you land them to a page that is focused on new car quotes only, how many of those folks do you make mad?   Some companies are saying that they convert 70 percent of the traffic into leads.  Two questions need to be answered on those statistics: What dealership did the other 30 percent go to, and how many of those leads were quality leads – not someone just trying to find more information on the Web site?

Myth 6:  I only need to be on Google.

Yes, Google owns the lions’ share of searches out there.  The fact that everyone seems to miss is that they are the most expensive also.  Yahoo!, MSN, Ask and other smaller engines do have an impact.  Many times it will vary from area to area within the country as to which engine will be the most successful.  Imagine Google as the big network channels on TV, but you can also buy some very effective advertising on the local cable channels.

Myth 7:  I have search, so just cancel my lead providers.

Many dealers I have worked with have cancelled lead providers to pay for search.  Do this if a lead provider isn’t working – not because it seems like the logical place to get money out of your budget.  The smartest investment is converting traditional media dollars to online because of the ROI online can produce.

These seven myths just might help you ask the right questions when the next search engine marketing provider comes knocking on your door.  Best of luck in the search engine marketing race this year.

KEY TERMS

Vol 4, Issue 1

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