Driving Traffic With UGC sites, Blogs and Social Networks by Ralph Paglia


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Driving Traffic With UGC sites, Blogs and Social Networks by Ralph Paglia

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Driving Traffic With UGC sites, Blogs and Social Networks by Ralph Paglia

  1. 1. Driving Traffic to Dealer Sites with Blogs, Social Networking and User Generated Content (UGC) Sites For many dealers trying to get a handle on driving traffic to their websites, paid search engine advertising and advertising their domain names (URL) in their offline ads are the primary methods for driving traffic to their dealership Websites. Search engine advertising, often called Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is targeted at in-market car shoppers and localized using Geotargeting. And, the return on investment in search engine advertising is usually better than other forms of traditional advertising. Establishing a stronger presence through User Generated Content (UGC) websites such as blogs and social networking sites can drive traffic to a dealer’s websites and will usually improve a dealer’s organic (free) search rankings on Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines. The social revolution characterized by UGC sites such as MySpace.com, Facebook.com, Friendster.com, LinkedIn.com and others has been taking the Internet by storm for a few years now, but has only recently become a buzzword in the automotive industry. UGC sites characterized as Blogs, professional and social networks are all excellent forms of dealer website traffic-drivers if applied properly. If mishandled, however, they can actually have the opposite effect. Dealership Blogs Blogging is something that many dealerships want to do, but often do not know how to start. Those who are able get rolling are sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of time required to maintain a good blog. A true, quality dealership blog must be built with an appropriate theme, optimized in and of itself, and have fresh content added two to 10 times per month. They can be used to highlight different aspects of the dealership from a perspective that isn’t necessarily sales-driven. There can be articles about employees of the month, charitable sponsorships, local events in which the dealership participates, manufacturer news, exciting new models coming out, spotlights on special customers, etc.; the possibilities are endless. There are three keys to remember with a blog: 1. Blogs should have personality. They should be interesting and not just a series of articles about the latest sales or incentives. 2. They should be optimized, first for the dealership name, then for the city and brand. When a blog takes up a spot on the front page of the search engines, other search results like competitors’ sites and negative reviews are pushed down. 3. Use the blog for optimization of the primary site. It shouldn’t be loaded with links, but a few strategically-placed links pointing to the parts department or used car inventory every now and then will benefit the primary Web site. Dealers can do it themselves. There are free resources out there such as www.wordpress.com , www.TypePad.com , www.ning.com and www.blogger.com that
  2. 2. offer ways for people who are not tech-oriented to start a blog. For less than $20 a month, dealers can purchase a domain, select from a variety of prebuilt themes and design templates, and make a more professional-looking blog at www.1and1.com which uses the Wordpress platform to provide dealers with some control and marketing advantages over the free blog sites. Unless a dealership has employees who will be assigned to the task and are required to invest the time and energy to maintain a fresh and impressive blog, they should either hire an expert or not create their own blogs at all. A bad blog with old stories can turn a customer off just as quickly as a good blog can turn them on. Ask your website vendor how they can help you put out something you want people to see. Dealership Social Network Sites There is a multitude of pros and cons to be considered when a dealership looks at social networks like MySpace.com and Facebook.com. While pages on these networks can be tremendous marketing tools for reaching people, they can also turn into eyesores and embarrassments if not handled properly. As with blogs, tread carefully before jumping into the big social networking sites. Having nothing at all is much better than having a poorly-done page representing you. Another option is to use the “Do-It-Yourself” social networking UGC site platforms offered by www.Ning.com and www.GoingOn.com. These two UGC sites provide dealers with flexible and easy to use low or no-cost platforms and have become the most popular entrants into this new category of UGC site. Ning and GoingOn aggregate together a variety of online applications and web services that allow dealers to create sites that part blog like www.blogger.com), part social network like www.facebook.com and www.MySpace.com, part forum like http://answers.yahoo.com), part photo sharing site like www.Flickr.com, part video hosting and distribution site like http://Video.Google.com, http://Video.Yahoo.com and www.YouTube.com, and part professional networking community like www.LinkedIn.com all rolled into one. These fairly new UGC social networks like Ning and GoingOn can have amazing results if dealers set them up and manage them properly. An additional benefit of these types of sites is that their ongoing maintenance can be automated to a great degree once they are initially built and set up properly. Go and do a search at www.Google.com for “automotive professional community”… you’ll find a site listed as www.AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com. This is a UGC site that I created using the www.Ning.com UGC social network site platform in January 2008. Before the end of June 2008, less than 6 months after launching it, there were over 1,000 active members. AutomotiveDigitalMarekting.com also happens to be a great place to explore digital marketing best practices and see the potential of building your dealership’s own social network site. More importantly, these DIY social network sites can be used in a similar manner to blogs and bookmarking sites to drive traffic to your dealership’s websites and improve their organic rankings in the search engines through text, image and video content based link optimization.
  3. 3. Here are a few examples of dealer built UGC social network sites built using the Ning.com social network site platform: 1. The Berglund Nice Guys Berglundniceguys.ning.com We are dedicated to letting people who we are and encourage customers to buy ... 2. Mercedes-Benz of El Dorado Hills mbofedh.ning.com I decided to bookmark this site not only because this dealer has my favorite ... 3. Frontier Honda frontierh.ning.com I tried buying a car online and found it easy and quick. I chose this dealer ... 4. SuperiorToyota superiortoyota2.ning.com Superior Toyota is the renowned new and pre-owned Toyota dealer . For more in... 5. Honda El Cerrito hondaelcerrito1.ning.com The new 2007 Honda Accord coupe is a perfect balance between luxury, performa... 6. Anderson Direct andersondirect.ning.com I came across the website www.andersondirect.com and I decided that this was ... 7. Crown Chrysler Jeep crownchryslerjeepOH.ning.com If you a busy person and have no time to visit the dealership to order parts ... 8. Bell BMW bellbmw.ning.com I had heard a lot about the latest offering from the makers of the Ultimate D... 9. Crown Euro Cars crowneurocars.ning.com I simply can’t resist the appealing look of all Mercedes. This Mercedes deale... 10. Germain BMW germainbmw1.ning.com Germain BMW, Naples, Florida is a leading dealership for New, Used, and Certi... 11. http://www.HendrickPontiac.com/ hendrickpontiac.ning.com It may not be done with intentions, but sometimes, even a person with a good ... 12. Ford of Ocala fordofocalaFL.ning.com Recently I discovered this dealership close to my residing area. But I have n... 13. Bell Audi bellaudi.ning.com I don’t need to worry about having to wash my car with my own hands! As one o... 14. Pacifico Ford pacificoford.ning.com Pacifico Ford - the largest ford dealership located in Philadelphia near Dela...
  4. 4. 15. Nissan nissandirect.ning.com Folsom Lake Nissan have an elite display of world class Nissan vehicles. They... 16. http://www.pacificomazda.com/ pacificomazda.ning.com Pacifico mazda - the largest mazda dealership located in Philadelphia near De... 17. Berkeley Honda berkeleyhondaCA.ning.com Berkeley Honda is the leading dealership for new and certified pre-owned Hond... 18. Automotive toyotamarin.ning.com Toyota Marin is the largest toyota dealership in California, located in San R... 19. http://www.PacificoHyundai.com/ pacificohyundai.ning.com Pacifico hyundai - the largest hyundai dealership located in Philadelphia nea... 20. Brickell Honda brickellhonda3.ning.com Brickell Honda, Miami, Florida (FL), is a leading dealership for New, Used, a... 21. Hendrick Chevrolet hendrickchevrolet.ning.com I am in eager anticipation of the arrival of the 2007 Silverado! It is due to... 22. Huffines Customer Network huffines.ning.com A social network designed for Huffines Customers to share their experiences w... 23. www.1800toyotaland.com 1800toyotaland.ning.com Toyotaland the foremost Toyota Dealers in Springfield, exhibits 2007, 2006, N... 24. Acura of Pleasanton fPleasanton.ning.com Acura of Pleasanton, California is a leading dealership for New, Used, and Ce... 25. Florida CFLM cflmcar.ning.com I saw Central Florida Lincoln Mercury, Inc., a premier Lincoln Mercury Isuzu ... 26. Volvo of Pleasanton volvoofpleasanton1.ning.com At Volvo of Pleasanton, you not only find an exhilarating and varied choice o... 27. Pacific Ford pacificford1.ning.com “I’ve had numerous encounters with a multitude of car dealers across the stat... 28. Hendrick Cadillac hendrickcadillac.ning.com I was amazed at the sheer size of the inventory of used vehicles at this show... 29. City Chevrolet citychevrolet.ning.com I was searching for a good dealer to buy my all-time favorite Chevrolet Monte... 30. Lexus of Pleasanton
  5. 5. lexusofpleasanton1.ning.com Recently, I discovered the Lexus of Pleasanton dealership in Pleasanton, Cali... 31. SL Honda slhondaCA.ning.com This is an impressive dealer for all models and makes of new and pre owned Ho... 32. Columbia Chevrolet columbiahevroletOH.ning.com There are dealers for Chevrolet vehicles all over the country. I was thinking... 33. Crown Chrysler Jeep crowncryslerjeep.ning.com Crown Chrysler Jeep - Leading New, Used and Pre-Owned Chrysler and Jeep deale... 34. Vacaville Honda vacavillehonda.ning.com This is a great dealer to check out on for special offers. Currently there is... 35. Toyota Of Concord toyotadealercharlotte.ning.com Toyota Charlotte, the leading Auto Dealer near Concord, North Carolina (NC) h... 36. Miller Toyota of Anaheim millertoyotaofanaheim.ning.com Miller Toyota of Anaheim, the affable car dealer for Toyota offers you a whol... 37. Ford of Clermont myfordofclermont.ning.com A Ford car dealer that stays in the mind because it proclaims on the dealersh... 38. Smith Chevy smithchevy1.ning.com The pre-owned vehicles at Smith Chevrolet Cadillac not only undergo a stringe... We have also noticed several regional dealer advertising associations setting up their own social networks using the Ning.com build your own social network tools… Here’s a few examples: 39. Portland Car Dealers portlandcardealers.ning.com Specializing if connecting buyers with car dealers in Portland, Oregon. Hond... 40. Classic Toyota Dealers Cleveland toyotadealers.ning.com The Web Site, relevant and useful information about Toyota and Toyota Auto Pa... 41. Fort Wayne Car Deals fortwaynecardeals.ning.com Here we list all the best car deals from local dealers in Fort Wayne Indiana. UGC Media Sharing Sites User Generated Content (UGC) bookmarking sites like www.Digg.com and www.Propeller.com have had extreme search engine optimization benefits for over a year. Because they promote news stories, videos and pictures, dealerships and their optimization companies have had a difficult time applying the SEO power of social media into the dealerships’ Web sites.
  6. 6. The solution is to use social media as a secondary optimization push. While submitting a dealership’s Web site to Digg.com would be pointless, writing an article on a blog that discusses and links to the dealership and then “digging” that blog post can help. This secondary layer of link-building is too advanced for most automotive SEO vendors. If they aren’t using these tools (or worse, if they are using them improperly and spamming your link across networks), then you should find a vendor who does use these tools and, just as important, uses them correctly. Video file hosting and photo sharing sites can be an ideal way for dealers to get the benefit of “Viral Marketing” when videos or photos that reference the dealership catch on in popularity and start getting sent to thousands of people by friends, family and coworkers. Video hosting sites used effectively by dealers throughout the country include www.YouTube.com, http://video.yahoo.com , http://video.google.com, and several others. Photo sgaring sites include the ever popular www.Facebook.com , www.Flickr.com , www.SnapFish.com and many more. Optimization for the User Generated Content (UGC) Web Optimizing an automotive Web site in 2008 is very different than it was last year. Throughout this year, it will continue to change, but UGC sites will still be an enormously important aspect of optimization for a long time. A properly-run UGC optimization campaign is difficult to find. It takes time to research and more time to implement, but it is the gasoline that drives your Web site. You can have the best keyword balanced text and relevant content in the world, but without the high-octane links to drive your website’s ranking in search engines, you’d better plan on spending a lot more money on advertising.