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The Importance of an Automotive SEO Center of Excellence

Searching For Car Rental Online

This is an interesting time in the automotive industry. We have supply chain issues, chip shortages, sky-high gas prices, inflation at a 40-year high, and a push for electrification and mobility. All these things equate to fewer vehicles to sell.

Automotive companies are pivoting more toward ecommerce and focusing on special ordering so that customers can still get what they want in terms of their vehicle choices. In the world of automotive marketing, there is a shift from retail messaging with incentives to a brand-centric message about a vehicle’s qualities.

However, this landscape is having a profound impact on automotive dealers in both good and bad ways, making your website and serving your local communities even more important. It is critically important that the consumer shopping journey must be consistent and connected. The experience must be highly personalized and center on awareness, ownership, and lifetime value.

While search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for all industries, it is especially true for the automotive industry with its extensive dealer network. At this point, dealers can’t afford any inefficiencies in their marketing dollars. Dealer websites have become virtual showrooms, and companies must take advantage of consumer traffic by enhancing the overall customer experience and embracing the opportunity to collect organic leads.

A strong SEO foundation can profoundly impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your paid media efforts. As a result, the required SEO approach is not a set-it-and-forget-it mentality but rather something that must evolve to take maximum advantage of the latest changes by search engines. It must be modular and consider the changing consumer shopping habits, while leveraging the abundance of data available today. As a result, a siloed SEO offering will not address today’s ever-evolving and multi-dimensional needs in the automotive industry.

That is exactly why we created the SEO Center of Excellence. It is a program that establishes the foundation for best practices in SEO. The program constantly evolves with the search engines so that it is current and remains best in class. It leverages the locality of the dealer franchise and supports the outstanding local content and community efforts that are so important to our automotive dealers.

So often, SEO remains a package that dealers buy once but doesn’t evolve and quickly becomes ineffective. Dealers must leverage organic site traffic and leads but also maximize the dollars that go into paid media. If they fail to maximize their marketing spend, their cost per click is much higher, and they are paying for lower quality scores and page rank, resulting in a decline in paid media effectiveness and a poor consumer experience. I would argue that having a robust SEO program is the lowest hanging fruit in automotive. Only once that is actively managed on an ongoing basis should you spend serious marketing dollars on paid media.

While this seems like a challenging time in the world of automotive retail, it is also a great time for demonstrating service to your customers. With great SEO, you make search engines more effective and ensure that consumers get the information on the vehicles they are looking for on the dealer site. We can help consumers have a cohesive and consistent experience across the tiers, which drives consumer loyalty…which becomes the brand. This drives customer lifetime value. The best thing is that SEO has a distinct ROI, so you can accurately understand your return on investment.

Perficient is not like most consulting companies who are looking for large projects; we start with the customer and look for ways to strengthen and serve their needs. The goal is to build up their businesses with innovative and effective solutions. If you are a manufacturer or an automotive dealer, think about SEO and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it foundational?
  • Does it evolve with the technology today?
  • Is it driving ROI for your business?
  • How effective is your paid media spend?
  • Are you wasting dollars on ineffective marketing because you lack a strong SEO foundation?

Our SEO Center of Excellence is custom-built for your needs and your local area. It evolves as the technology and business needs evolve. Whether you run a huge automotive manufacturer, a dealer group, or are a single rooftop, SEO should be the first part of your successful consumer marketing strategy. Give us a call as our experts are standing by to help.

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Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

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