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Down With Misleading Dealership Reports!

Sorry for the delay – this should have gone up yesterday, but I was flying back from the DMSC conference in Napa, and my plane got REALLY delayed in San Francisco…

This week’s video takes a look at some of the shady, misleading reports that dealers need to avoid. If you get a weird report from a prospective vendor, or from your manufacturer, make sure that it’s got actionable data in the report! If the report is a bunch of fuzzy numbers and not-quite-clear information, it’s impossible to make intelligent decisions for your dealership.

Check out this week’s video for more insight into why these reports are bad, and what you can do when you get one…

Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop with DealerOn with the Beard and the Hair…

Hey Beard – how come you’re so tall?

Well, I’m ‘bout to preach from my soap box this week…

Oooooh, I was wondering why we were shooting here in this soap factory this time.

Yep, I just had to get up here to preach about awful misleading reports that scare dealers into making bad decisions.

Oh, you mean those __CENSORED__ reports that come from the manufacturer that rhymes with __CENSORED__?

Dude… don’t even get me started. That’s gonna be a long video, we’ll do that another time. This time, I’m talking about misleading SEO reports. There are tons of different reports, but they usually come from shady vendors who are trying to mislead dealers into signing up for whatever it is that they’re selling.

Anything that mentions Alexa should automatically get thrown away, for example. Or anything that shows traffic volume, really – no one knows how much traffic a website gets unless they have access to that site’s Google Analytics profile. SEMrush and SpyFu are NOT accurate judges of website traffic – so don’t pay any attention to traffic data from these guys…

But the main reason I’m here to to specifically talk about this report.

Hey man, now they can’t see me!

Sorry man, just hang out for a minute, I’ve got to show them this report…

It shows the “search engine organic visibility” for the Nissan dealers in the Chicago region. The problem is, there’s no data here that shows ANYTHING actionable. It shows 10 dealers on the vertical axis, and percentages across the horizontal axis.

But what are these percentages? There’s no label, so we don’t know what the percentage represents… so it’s utterly useless.

Then – the blue lines are Google, red is Bing, and Green is Yahoo.

Ok, really – nobody uses Bing or Yahoo. Those shouldn’t even be included here. Check out the second one – the Bing and Yahoo lines show higher percentages than Google – but that means nothing, cause their traffic from Google will still far outpace anything from the other two combined. It’s completely misleading to put them all together like this.

Then you go to the second page, and see that those percentages are “market visibility” – but they don’t tell you what that means. How’s it calculated? What is is looking at? What do they expect you to be able to do about it?

Then it lists out how many times the dealer shows in position 1, in the top 5, and on the first page, and then the sum of those 3. BUT, they don’t tell you which keywords they’re using for this… in fact, when you ask them, they say that they don’t divulge the keywords on purpose. They’re supposed to be terms that are brand and location centric, but not terms that any one dealer could optimize specifically for.

So in other words, they’re keyword phrases that are generic enough to apply to everyone… with no weight associated with actual search volume, or traffic volume, or competition for those phrases – or even location. Someone in Downtown Chicago can easily optimize and show up for Chicago related terms, but someone in a suburb, which is still the metro area of Chicago, probably won’t ever show up for most Chicago related terms. Google has made updates in the last few years which make it almost impossible to show up for searches in a city where you’re not physically located.

And not disclosing the keywords they’re tracking completely goes against the entire purpose of SEO. If a dealership isn’t doing well for a set of keywords that the manufacturer thinks they should be getting more visibility for, how the heck will this report help? The dealers have no idea which terms they’re failing on…

Even worse – this is for the Chicago region – but some of these dealers are an hour outside of Chicago! There is ZERO possibility that the guy that’s an hour outside of Chicago will be able to compete on Chicago related terms with a dealer who’s physically located there! The guy outside of town could be killing it in his area, and even getting tons of business from nearby cities where there’s no other dealership, but this report would show that he’s failing…

So we have no idea what keywords they’re looking at, what search volume we’re examining, or what the percentages mean… and even worse, there’s no data that ties into a dealer’s bottom line… we have to tie SEO data to actual website traffic and lead volume. The guy who’s at the top of the list shows a higher visibility percentage, but that doesn’t mean he’s got more traffic than anyone else… and it doesn’t mean he’s getting more leads or selling more cars, or that he’s got more visibility now than he had a year ago.

So – if you get a report like this from a vendor, or even your manufacturer, insist on better data. It’s impossible to make marketing decisions from reports that don’t show you any “real” data.

And with that, I’m off of my soap box.

Thanks for stopping by this week to hear the Beard rant about bad reports. If you’ve got any questions or comments, or even your own version of a bad report, let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We’ll see you again next week for another Wednesday Workshop with DealerOn.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

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