As a veteran of this industry, I learned quickly that one is never truly an SEO “expert”. Search engine optimization is an ever-changing field whose leaders are humble enough to understand that to be the best at SEO, you must be constantly practicing it, following the market closely, and always making great effort to keep learning more about best practices from others in the industry.
It is with that mindset that I accepted Brian’s invitation to join the Automotive SEO Study last August. Brian has consistently been a leader in Automotive SEO. I learned that when I became involved in getting our sites optimized for Cash for Clunkers well before the program actually took place (in 2009), and found that Brian was already there beside me, and more than willing to assist me in my efforts. I was excited to participate in the study and learn more from Brian, as well as from the many others who were joining the study as well.
The prep work for the study at the very beginning was very intensive, and many folks fell behind right out of the gate. I knew that Brian was trying to build a strong foundation for what was going to follow, so I worked hard to setup the accounts and reports that Brian asked for. I selected one primary site, http://jeffwylereastgatekia.com, to be the focus of my SEO efforts within our study.
At the same time, I gave 2 of our other sites to an SEO specialist from my website provider to work on, and I figured that I could compare our efforts later in the process. It is typical for car folks to want to dive in right away and see quick results, but Brian was emphasizing that the proper preparation and some patience would pay off in the long term. That meant selecting the right keywords to optimize, and Brian shared several techniques on how to do this. Of note, Brian used short video tutorials throughout the study that he put together that I found very helpful, as I was able to return to these videos again and again if I had questions or needed assistance. Once we selected the right keywords, Brian then shared how to create quality content and link building techniques that helped optimize our site(s) for the keywords and search phrases we were interested in.
I found several things very valuable in this study. I was pleased to see that Brian was not encouraging any “black-hatting” techniques or trickery to try and deceive the search engines to prioritize our sites. He focused on the “meat and potatoes” of SEO, which is creating quality content and utilizing good link-building strategies. Many folks struggle to write good content, and Brian shared some easy tips on how to find good content online, edit it to work with our individual sites, and then post it in a manner that was both useful to our shoppers as well as ourselves.
We are all very busy in this industry, and one could quickly see that if the search engines are constantly hungry for new content, we are pressed for time to be constantly creating it on multiple sites. Brian showed us how to use RSS feeds with our blog(s) and inventory, as well as Dealer Rater and other sites to create microsites where we can have content automatically updating on a daily basis and leveraging the strength of our inventory.
I was excited to learn about several other sites that Google prioritizes in search results that are fairly simple to setup for our shoppers. Brian would show us a site, and then instruct us how to setup that site in a SEO friendly manner. The other great benefit of this was to cover more “real estate” in a search engine result. Rather than have just one result (our website) show up for a search term, we could have multiple results on the same page. By the end of the study, I had several targeted search phrases that covered the majority of page 1 Google Results.
Note that even though I completed the SEO on one of my Kia stores, the “Search juice” carried over to my other Kia store as well. I was also able to create many smaller information pages quickly and in a simple manner that allowed me to target smaller cities and townships near our dealership for service customers that worked quite well. Once again, it was about creating good content and having great backlinks from high page rank sites that helped this to work very well.
My situation took a significant turn near the end of the study. As I worked to follow the study and complete the SEO work each week, I found many shortcomings in my current website platform which limited my efforts. I also saw quite quickly that my SEO results were far better than those of the SEO specialist working on some of my other sites. I knew what we needed to do, but I did not have the platform to do it consistently and extensively across all of my other websites.
After completing some significant due diligence, I made the decision to switch our current website provider to another platform that was much more SEO-friendly and gave me the flexibility to accomplish the goals I was trying to reach. This certainly was not my goal when I began the study, but it was a significant decision that the study helped me to identify and solve. I would only recommend this to other dealers if they give it their full commitment from beginning to end. If you want to be a LEADER in your field, then I recommend this strongly. If you are looking for the easy way out, then this is not for you.
I extend my gratitude to Brian for all of his hard work and assistance. I consider Brian not only as a great SEO practitioner, but also as a great friend, and I value his knowledge and friendship greatly.
Jeff Wyler Automotive Family
15 Brands, 9 rooftops, 30+ Websites