July 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Knowing the basics of how many visitors your site has, the number of page views and the amount of time spent on the site is fairly easy these days, but it is possible to learn so much more. There are several products on the market, many of which are entirely free, that allow you to view your site and marketing efforts from several different perspectives.
The dealership Web sites used in many of the examples were all leaders in the 2008 Internet Achievement Awards, as the 2009 results were not available early enough for this feature.
Yahoo! Site Explorer
This site will give you a quick view of how many pages of your site Yahoo! has indexed, as well as how many inbound links your site has. There is much debate over how a site performs in search engine optimization based on these two factors. After testing several combinations of cities and makes of vehicles, there was no correlation found between the number of pages Yahoo! indexed or the number of inbound links and a site’s ranking in a Yahoo! search.
Now, that is not to say that they don’t help because links receive varying amounts of value and those values are not disclosed, but there certainly was not an apparent connection between the two in this test. The inbound link is the more useful of the two options because it gives you a glimpse of which sites are linked back to you. These links could be a significant traffic source for you. You may want to reach out to some of the inbound links to expand your relationship for additional traffic.
Search Engine Saturation – This is a pretty slick tool to allow you to compare your dealership site to other dealer sites. It is similar to the Yahoo! Site Explorer in that it looks at indexed pages, but it evaluates more than one search engine and, more importantly, allows you to see your site against several other sites. The results are fast and up-to-date. Marketleap discloses that the results are not perfect, but they may be good for measuring benchmarks about your SEM campaigns.
Keyword Verification – This Marketleap tool allows you to input your domain and then a keyword or words you would like to see results on. It will then check six search engines and return the page results. What it doesn’t do is tell you where on a search results page you rate, but it does tell you if your keyword will garner you a listing on pages one, two or three of each engine’s results.
If you are trying to target specific words for your site and you are not appearing on the first three pages, the odds are pretty slim that a searcher will find you. As you can see, Maroone Toyota’s domain was chosen and the keyword/phrase was Miami Toyota. Those words returned the Maroone Toyota Web site on the first page of results for five of the six engines. This tool works well and no flaws were found in the results during testing. You might uncover a gap in your marketing efforts with this tool.
Although Marketleap does have another tool called Link Popularity Check, it was not found to be as useful to dealership sites as some of the other link tools available.
This site is great because of the way in which it displays information. It takes data from other sites and renders it in an easy-to-understand format. The most useful tab is the Compete.com tab. Although you could go directly to Compete.com for similar information, AttentionMeter gives you the ability to compare five sites at a time whereas Compete.com limits you to three. Understand that due to the volume of activity on some sites, this data is not absolute in accuracy, but it does allow a user to identify trends. For these, the top five Internet retailers based on 2007 sales data were used. As you can see on the Unique Visitors report, Dave Smith Motors (USAutoSales.com) generates considerably more traffic than the other four sites. You would expect that result,given the volume of Internet sales that operation generates. What is even more interesting is the fact that the trend line of this Internet activity mirrors the automotive industry.
The next tab of data within the Compete.com tab is Rank. This information is of limited to no value for the average dealership. All it amounts to is a site’s ranking within the top million sites on the Web. Are you really concerned with how you stack up compared to the Wal-Mart-, Amazon- and eBay-type of sites in the world? Probably not. Skip it and get to the more useful information
The third tab within Compete.com is the Site Visits tab. Again, this is a good view for evaluating some trends. Without any background information and looking only at this graph, I could wonder what Cherry Hill Triplex did in July 2008 to drive up their traffic so much. Dave Smith Motors saw a considerable improvement in January 2009 in their Web site traffic. Did they change any marketing to cause that?
It is this type of information that will cause dealers to think about their Internet marketing initiatives, but to do so, they must have solid records as to what has been done at all times (i.e., tracking). An aggressive dealer would use this site to help monitor what their competition is doing. If competitors are marketing their Web site heavily in your market, are they seeing a lift in their site visits or unique visitors? What are they doing that you aren’t?
The Average Stay graph may assist you in spotting some unusual activity that may need some further investigation. For example, you have to wonder what Maroone Toyota did in April of 2008 to cause their average stay on the site to spike so much; Cherry Hill and Koons saw a similar spike in December 2008. Did they do anything to cause that spike and did they learn anything from that activity?
The last report is Pages per Visit but the data was very random. A dealer would be better served to focus on their own Web stats here instead of trying to compare this data to another dealer’s. None of the other site tabs were found to be of value for a dealership, but the ability to compare multiple sites and the simplicity of it makes AttentionMeter a great site.
This little jewel is very interesting. SpyFu will let you enter any domain and will provide you with the organic keywords and the paid keywords for that site, along with the top organic competitors and the top ad competitors. Only a dealer who pays for keyword advertising could test the site and determine the accuracy of the budget data at the top of the page. It is questionable if the budget is accurate or timely, but it would indicate if someone is paying for keywords. However, the keywords and competitor information are worth looking at for your own site as well as your competitors. You might just find some keywords you are missing the boat on.
Twitter isn’t widely used by dealers yet, and it remains to be seen how it will pan out for business in general. However, TweetVolume is a tool to check the number of times you have been Twittered. It’s not complicated and there is no control over date ranges, which is a little disappointing. The results are from the inception of Twitter in March 2001 to the current date. All you have to do is enter the word or phrase you want to check and it will return the number of times that word or phrase has been used.
The Google Keyword Density check allows you to input your URL and set a few parameters. Once the parameters are set, you can analyze your site and see what words appear and the density of those words, along with the word phrases. The report was quite long on some of the dealer sites tested. Keyword density has been discussed and debated at length over time as to the usefulness of measuring it. Setting that debate aside, look at what types of words you are using and if they are relevant to your site. Stuffing keywords will get you nowhere with the search engines, except possibly ignored or banned.
If you feel you have hit a brick wall in brainstorming keywords for your site or SEM campaign, try this tool. Enter a keyword or your Web site and Google will provide Advertiser Competition (a graphic of how popular a word or phrase is for those bidding on keywords), Approximate Search Volume for a recent month (February data was available throughout March) and Approximate Average Search Volume over the last 12 months. This tool also allows you to filter out specific results and set the Match Type to Broad, Phrase or Exact. Again, this report was too long to reprint here, but you can create your own report in a matter of minutes.
Although Getupdated Internet Marketing has many SEO tools available and you could certainly use many of them, there are two of special interest. The Spider Simulator allows you to input your URL and the site will download your page and return a view of what a spider would see on your site. This is important since the spider activity is crucial to your SEO efforts. The site includes a short description of how to interpret all of the tool results. Surprisingly, many of the dealership site tested did not have descriptions on their home page.
The second tool is the Page Size. Regardless of how much of your traffic is coming from consumers on 56K modems or T1 lines, it is still important for your pages to load quickly. In this tool you can input your page and it will tell you how long it takes the page to download on a 56K modem and the file size. Testing revealed a pretty wide range on dealership home pages ranging from 2.8 second to 17.7 seconds. The site at 17.7 seconds did not far well. The page was too large and the message was “Search engines will not index this correctly.” Fifteen seconds doesn’t sound like much but to an impatient browser it can mean a hasty exit from your site.
Vol. 6, Issue 5