Tracking Dealer Website Traffic

Your dealership has a web site. Your dealership website has visitors. You even sell car sales from your dealer website. Everything seems to be working: why should you go through the effort to track and analyze your web site traffic?

The fact is, the importance of tracking your dealer website traffic is not stressed nearly enough. At most, internet managers say, “Sure, I track my site traffic. We had 5,000 hits last month!” But that isn’t “tracking your site traffic.” That is a simple statement, and it doesn’t tell you anything about your site or your site traffic.

The importance of tracking your site traffic lies in the fact that proper web traffic analytics will help you answer these key questions: The only analytics we recommend at Dealer e Process is Google analytics. Google is a TRUSTED third party source that deals with data in massive quantities. For business decisions to be made accurately, Google needs accurate data.

Am I reaching my target market?
If you went about developing your web site systematically, you probably spent time researching and defining your target market. You then designed your site to reach those specific people.
But all your research was still – at its base – a hypothesis. You made assumptions about how to reach your customer base. Tracking your site traffic will verify what is actually happening on your site (who is coming and what they are doing), compared to what you expected to happen.

How are people interacting with my site?
Sure, people are coming to your web site. But what are they doing there? Do they hit the home page and leave? Do they go immediately to your free section and never browse your sale items? Do 90% of the people who click on your online payment form subsequently abandon it?

Tracking your site traffic will allow you to see how people proceed through your site, where they spend their time, what they do, and any problems they may be encountering. And that information can help you significantly improve their user experience – and your sales.
Where is my site traffic coming from?

To drive traffic to your site, you are likely engaged in multiple marketing efforts. You may have search engine optimized your content, engaged in article marketing, and developed reciprocal links from key partners. You may be involved in a pay-per-click campaign. Perhaps you also explored email marketing or print advertising.

Web traffic analytics will tell you exactly how successful each and every one of those marketing efforts is. You will then be able to cut the fat from your marketing plan and focus on the most strategic and productive campaigns.

What trends do I see?
The web is a constantly changing place. What worked last year may not work this year. You can’t rely on the mantra “we’ve always done it this way” and expect to see consistently positive results for years on end.

By tracking your site traffic, you will be able to see trends as they unfold: trends in who is coming to your site, how they are interacting with it, what they want, how they buy, etc. You will be able to respond proactively to changing patterns, rather than reactively scrambling to fix a situation after it has become a major problem.

If you are serious about using your dealer website as a tool for business, tracking your site traffic is an absolute essential. The questions above just scratch the surface of what web traffic analytics can do for you.

But the bottom line is this: tracking your site traffic provides you with quantifiable data to allow you to make wise decisions for your business.

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5 Rules To Dealer Website Design

When choosing an auto dealer website provider, keep in mind you only have one chance to keep the internet visitor from clicking the exit button once they visit your site.

More than ever (92% of car shoppers use the internet before purchasing) your dealer website design represents your business and the face of your dealership!

For years, we have been told that when going to an interview you have 10 seconds to make a lasting first impression. There is no difference when designing your dealership website than making the first impression in an interview. You are making a first impression with the prospective car buyer who has searched the vehicles you are offering in your website design. The first impression can make the difference between getting a lead from that potential buyer or just a visitor to your website.

Rule #1.
Make sure the website provider has an unblockable and dealer editable home page pop up to show promotions and urgency for a sale or offer. Dealers should be able to turn on and off this promotion. Dealer e Process websites give the dealership full control of home page pop ups. The software is built in a way that it cannot be blocked by internet browsers.

Rule #2.
Make sure your dealer website design makes it easy for the visitor to find the navigation buttons. If a customer has to search for a navigation button to find information about the vehicles of interest or the navigation buttons are not working, the visitor may get frustrated and leave you website costing you a lead.

As a rule of thumb, your navigation buttons should be on the top of your web page because the majority of people read from top to bottom on the internet. It is also important to allow customers to find different ways to find inventory from the top to the bottom of the page. Having searches such as MPG,Payment,Fuel Efficient,Specials,Budget Row, etc are very important. Having just a vehicle search may not spark the imagination of a customer. HAVE MORE!

Rule #3.
When visitors are browsing your dealership site, have a clear indication for the visitor of where they are on your website and how to get to other pages.
You may want to put a link on each page that the visitor clicks to take them to the home page or another page relating to the information currently viewing. In other words do not confuse your visitor or your visitor may just click off the website totally.

Rule #4.
When choosing your website provider pay close attention to loading time, the time it takes your web pages to load. You can reduce loading time by reducing graphics on each page. A good website design should load under two seconds. Dealer e Process websites load extremely fast through the use of proper coding and zero flash.
The longer it takes the pages to load the more frustrating it can be to the visitor. People want it yesterday not today and definitely not tomorrow.

Rule #5.
Make sure your dealership website works in all internet browsers(Internet Explorer,Firefox,Safari). Too many times I have seem website providers that have designed websites that work in Internet Explorer 5 and 6, but not 7. I have seem some applications not work in Firefox at all. This is important as a broken lead form or chopped off vehicle pictures can turn customers away immediately. Dealer e Process websites are tested across all browsers as they are released.

Dealership SEO Strategy

Search engine marketing even when speaking in terms of car dealerships involves keeping your content and vehicles fresh, using keywords that put you at the top of the first page and obtaining as many links to your site from other “relevant” websites as possible (auto sites).

Take Care Of The Search Engines, They Take Care Of You

1. Search engines really like updated and fresh content. Pay attention to which sites show on the first page of a Google search and you will notice that among the sites in keyword competition. Its usually the dealer sites with the most updated content that win out in the long run. I would strongly suggest you either write your own reviews in cars or articles about the dealership and upload your own graphics and photos or outsource the job to freelancers.

There are many freelance writers for reasonable rates. Ever think of looking to a local college? With one good writer or writing team, you can improve your dealers site’s rankings dramatically. Make sure the writer you choose understands auto dealership SEO so the writing contain the keywords that make sense.

2. Keyword strategies include going for those people who instead of searching for ‘used cars’ search for ‘used cars in Chicago’ and other more specific terms. We have performed this SEO service for Freedom Auto Depot in Chicago and they dominate the search engines on Google for “used cars Chicago” or “used cars in Chicago” etc.

Do not stuff your pages with keywords? The recommended density of keywords is between 2 and 3 percent of the text on your page. I find it increasingly funny to view dealer websites pages that have words stuffed all onto the home page which includes all the location around the dealerships as well as all the model vehicles the dealership sells.

Excessive keyword phrases are not only recognizable to search engines as ‘stuffing” they can ultimately affect the quality of the writing and the ranking of the dealers website. This is where LSI comes in. LSI involves using phrases that are synonymous with your original keyword phrase. Learn about LSI! Google it!

3. The more relevant sites that link to your page (auto dealer websites), the better your rankings will be. For example, if you sell new Chevy Cars in Chicago, try putting links about your dealership in an article that talks about the “new Chevy Traverse at Chicago Chevy Dealers“. This is one way of ‘piggy backing’ on the keywords used by other sites.

Write your own articles and car reviews or have a freelance writer write some for you. Submit them to article directories or other social networks and allow other sites to use them. It is a ‘take care of me and Ill take care of you” strategy and it works for both sides.

4. You can use your dealerships blog for more search engine marketing. Dont’t tell me you don’t have a dealer blog yet do you? If you update your blog daily and ping it with blog directories, you will see an increase in your dealership blog’s search engine rankings. Link to your dealers site from your blog. This is another means of piggy backing.

5. Monitor your dealers site traffic on at least a weekly basis. I strongly recommend you use a Google analytics tag because I am extremely skeptical about third party website companies providing the analytics. Note how much of your traffic is coming from pay per click search engine marketing and how much from natural search. After a couple of weeks of tracking, make small changes to optimize your site’s search engine rankings. Continue looking for ways to improve on your dealership site.

Gather all the information you can find on each of these strategies I mentioned above, and take it in. Its the wave of the future for auto dealerships so I suggest you start to learn it now. Search engine marketing, as with all other forms of marketing, is constantly changing. Stay up to date on everything there is to know about search engine marketing and you will see your sales increase considerably! The Game Is Changing, Are You? Let Dealer e Process do the work for you!

SEO on Your Auto Dealership Website

I have spoken to many dealership GM’s, internet managers about marketing their dealership online and I am constantly asked “How do you get to #1 position on Google?” While this article is not specially about how to get your dealership to #1 status for various search terms – I will explain what the process is and what’s involved for you to succed.

As much as dealerships have used the internet in increasing numbers the last couple years, I am always surprised by how many GM’s and internet managers have no idea what SEO (search engine optimization) is about. Most people can tell you WHY they like to click on that first listing in the natural results (cause its at the top) but they don’t have the first clue HOW it got there to begin with. A funnier way to look at is the fact that the internet world is largely unregulated and still being figured out which basically means that everyone has their own “secret practice” and definitions of SEO.

I always tell dealers that their gut feeling of WHY they trust the first listing is because its the best result for the phrase they typed in. In layman’s terms, dealers seem to understand that. However most dealership personnel do not really understand why one dealer website would be better than another so here goes with a layman’s explanation.

What is SEO, in layman’s terms that is?
SEO is the process of configuring a website so that it has a chance to show up in a search result for a particular phrase as close to the first position as possible. In other words it is our way of telling Google, Yahoo, or MSN what we think our site is about and designing it in a way in a way it reads like a “table of contents”. Many of the search engines have a slightly different formula (algorithm’s for technical terms) for how they determine these results. But the short version is that they look at different factors and most importantly the constructions of each website page, rank them and then give those results to you. The whole idea is to have a “good search experience” for the person typing the phrase into the search engine.

So Why is SEO So Important?
Two words sum it up for me; competition & Free. There are as many as 20 billion web pages being indexed (listed on Google, Yahoo, MSN) at any given time. The major search engines do their best to go through these pages from dealer websites for example and catalog them so that they can tell you about it if you use their website to search. With so many dealership website pages out there competing for similar phrases (used cars in Chicago for example)it is absolutely critical to make sure you are using every tool at your disposal, make sure your dealer website is constructed correctly to make sure your customers can find you when they are looking.

So What Should I Be Doing for SEO On My Dealership Website?
The bad news is that doing SEO correctly for your dealership’s website is very complicated and time consuming and requires regular attention in order to maintain results. My advice unless you plan on purchasing a Dealer e Process website (We do it for you) is to ethically follow these easy guidelines for best long-term results:

Correct Dealer Website Structure; as easy as this sounds many dealerships would not even think to look at this. Every day we see dealership websites with heavy flash animation (Dealerskins websites for example), dated frame designs (Ebiz & Cobalt websites for example), pages that don’t work and broken links. The bottom line is; if you can’ as a consumer easily navigate a dealerships website without problems, chances are the search engines can’t either (technical terms “spider the website”). And if a search engine spider can’t crawl your dealer website you have absolutely no chance of showing up for a key phrase – no matter how “pretty the flash”.

Good Meta-Data; Most dealership GM’s & Internet Managers often draw a blank stare when I talk about the next this one. Meta-data is tech-speak for the page titles, page descriptions and keywords that you enter for each page. Each page on your dealership website should have a unique title and description that summarizes what that page is about. (Reynolds & Reynolds websites for example)

We often see 2 problems with meta-data. The first is that it is simply overlooked (The Netlab does this for example). I am shocked at how many sites have “Dealership name” as the page title for every page! A complete waste of online real estate.

The 2nd problem is “spamming the search engines”. Putting in a page title or description about the dealership website that does not accurately match what the page is about is considered “spamming” a search engine. Doing this on your dealership website will get your page thrown out of the index (thrown in the Google sandbox) and ruin any chance of showing up for a key phrase that you want a great listing for. Some dealer website providers do this to you and you have no clue.

Relevant Content; Dealer’s seem to understand that good content about vehicles (like custom comments on used and new cars) is really what customers are looking for when they search for a vehicle. By “relevant” we mean that the content is specific to the vehicle in question and recently updated. More and more we are seeing dealers websites that have regular updates or a dealership blog showing up higher in the search results than websites which have larger quantities of content on them. The reason being is the content is fresh!

My personal recommendation is to add well written (maybe add a Google blogger addition), grammatically correct content to your dealerships website on a regular basis. This ensures that, over time, your dealer website will become a “resource” to those looking for phrases related to the automobile business in relation to selling new and used cars, service and parts.

Link building; This is the least understood part of SEO. Search engines consider a link from another website (a relevant link) to your website as a “popularity vote”. Simply put, the more sites which link to yours, the more “votes” you have! The website with the “most votes” has a much better chance of getting a #1 ranking for a particular search term. Dealer e Process dealer built websites get free links to our network of “auto related” websites (7203 links that is)dramatically pushing you to the top of the search engines.

So there you go, SEO explained in layman’s terms. Like most things in life, it’s not really that hard but it requires discipline and focus which is where most people get sidetracked. If you would like help with SEO for your dealership website, or other internet related needs we would love to hear from you at Dealer e Process. There is nothing “internet related” that we don’t understand when it comes to dealership websites online.