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A warning about website graders

In this week’s Wednesday Workshop video, we share a warning about site grader tools. These tools are incredibly generic, so they won’t always return accurate results for your dealership’s website. The tools treat every site the same, yet your dealership site is completely different from your local plumber’s site. The warnings and errors that are returned by these tools don’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with your site. Watch the video for all the details, and check with your current provider before you make any hasty decisions based on the results of these reports.


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn. It’s almost Christmas, but we’re not slowing down – this week we’ve got a killer tip to help you make the right digital marketing decisions…

It’s the end of the year, and most dealers are looking to 2019 and thinking about which vendors they want to partner with. Plus, you’ve got lots of vendors out there selling like crazy, knowing that dealers are looking at other options.

Today, we want to warn you about site grader tools. There are tons of different site graders out there, where you can enter your URL and get an automated report that shows the “status of your website”

It’s absolutely vital to understand how these graders work. They’re incredibly generalized, without any thought to what kinds of sites might be run through the tools. Think about it – an e-commerce site is a completely different site from your local plumber’s site.

They’re looking at high level elements that are present on every site – but they are by no means infallible – or sometimes, even that accurate.

For example – if you’re a Ford dealer, and you have 15 black F-150s in stock, one of these graders will tell you that you’ve got a ton of problems. The grader will show 15 instances of duplicate title tags, duplicate meta descriptions, and probably duplicate content.

First of all – there’s no such thing as a duplicate content penalty. Google rewards unique content, it doesn’t penalize for duplicate content. But also, Google knows that car dealers will almost always have multiple units of the same vehicle in stock, resulting in multiple “duplicate” pages – and it would never penalize you for that.

If you’ve got an i-framed service scheduler or trade-in estimator, or a page using any third party plugin, it’s likely that the page will get a slow load speed warning. If that third party plugin happens to not be secure, you’ll get a site security warning.

Regardless of who you’re using for your website, or who’s doing your digital marketing, you’ll get the same errors on these generic site graders. Don’t jump to conclusions! And definitely don’t let a shady sales person convince you to switch providers simply because the generic site grader shows a few warnings or errors.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be holding your vendors accountable though – you absolutely should! But, if you’re going to use one of these generic graders, or you’ve gotten some report from a pushy sales person, talk to your current vendor about it first. If there really are problems, you can address them with your vendor or make the call that it’s time to switch.

But, if it’s a bunch of errors for things that don’t really matter, or that would happen regardless of which vendor you’re with, you’ll be better informed after talking to your vendor – and you won’t make any hasty decisions that you’ll regret later.

So that’s it for this week’s Wednesday Workshop. As always, if you’ve got questions or comments, leave ‘em down below and we’ll get back to you shortly. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another Wednesday Workshop from 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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