Driving Traffic With UGC sites, Blogs and Social Networks by Ralph Paglia
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.
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
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.
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
We are dedicated to letting people who we are and encourage customers to buy ...
2. Mercedes-Benz of El Dorado Hills
I decided to bookmark this site not only because this dealer has my favorite ...
3. Frontier Honda
I tried buying a car online and found it easy and quick. I chose this dealer ...
Superior Toyota is the renowned new and pre-owned Toyota dealer . For more in...
5. Honda El Cerrito
The new 2007 Honda Accord coupe is a perfect balance between luxury, performa...
6. Anderson Direct
I came across the website www.andersondirect.com and I decided that this was ...
7. Crown Chrysler Jeep
If you a busy person and have no time to visit the dealership to order parts ...
8. Bell BMW
I had heard a lot about the latest offering from the makers of the Ultimate D...
9. Crown Euro Cars
I simply can’t resist the appealing look of all Mercedes. This Mercedes deale...
10. Germain BMW
Germain BMW, Naples, Florida is a leading dealership for New, Used, and Certi...
It may not be done with intentions, but sometimes, even a person with a good ...
12. Ford of Ocala
Recently I discovered this dealership close to my residing area. But I have n...
13. Bell Audi
I don’t need to worry about having to wash my car with my own hands! As one o...
14. Pacifico Ford
Pacifico Ford - the largest ford dealership located in Philadelphia near Dela...
Folsom Lake Nissan have an elite display of world class Nissan vehicles. They...
Pacifico mazda - the largest mazda dealership located in Philadelphia near De...
17. Berkeley Honda
Berkeley Honda is the leading dealership for new and certified pre-owned Hond...
Toyota Marin is the largest toyota dealership in California, located in San R...
Pacifico hyundai - the largest hyundai dealership located in Philadelphia nea...
20. Brickell Honda
Brickell Honda, Miami, Florida (FL), is a leading dealership for New, Used, a...
21. Hendrick Chevrolet
I am in eager anticipation of the arrival of the 2007 Silverado! It is due to...
22. Huffines Customer Network
A social network designed for Huffines Customers to share their experiences w...
Toyotaland the foremost Toyota Dealers in Springfield, exhibits 2007, 2006, N...
24. Acura of Pleasanton
Acura of Pleasanton, California is a leading dealership for New, Used, and Ce...
25. Florida CFLM
I saw Central Florida Lincoln Mercury, Inc., a premier Lincoln Mercury Isuzu ...
26. Volvo of Pleasanton
At Volvo of Pleasanton, you not only find an exhilarating and varied choice o...
27. Pacific Ford
“I’ve had numerous encounters with a multitude of car dealers across the stat...
28. Hendrick Cadillac
I was amazed at the sheer size of the inventory of used vehicles at this show...
29. City Chevrolet
I was searching for a good dealer to buy my all-time favorite Chevrolet Monte...
30. Lexus of Pleasanton
Recently, I discovered the Lexus of Pleasanton dealership in Pleasanton, Cali...
31. SL Honda
This is an impressive dealer for all models and makes of new and pre owned Ho...
32. Columbia Chevrolet
There are dealers for Chevrolet vehicles all over the country. I was thinking...
33. Crown Chrysler Jeep
Crown Chrysler Jeep - Leading New, Used and Pre-Owned Chrysler and Jeep deale...
34. Vacaville Honda
This is a great dealer to check out on for special offers. Currently there is...
35. Toyota Of Concord
Toyota Charlotte, the leading Auto Dealer near Concord, North Carolina (NC) h...
36. Miller Toyota of Anaheim
Miller Toyota of Anaheim, the affable car dealer for Toyota offers you a whol...
37. Ford of Clermont
A Ford car dealer that stays in the mind because it proclaims on the dealersh...
38. Smith Chevy
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
Specializing if connecting buyers with car dealers in Portland, Oregon. Hond...
40. Classic Toyota Dealers Cleveland
The Web Site, relevant and useful information about Toyota and Toyota Auto Pa...
41. Fort Wayne Car Deals
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.
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.