The Disgusting Truth About Reporting in the Automotive Community
I nearly didn’t write this. The “lazy” Tim on my shoulder said, “Now Tim, you know what happens when you call people out and stand on your soap box! People will call you a self-righteous blowhard! They’ll accuse you of pandering! Don’t do it!” But this one literally kept me up last night. So I got up at 6am this morning to write this because it needs to be said and people need to be called to task, because this isn’t just wrong….It borders on fraudulent. Hell, it’s downright criminal and I AM going to name names! A lot of companies have their fingers crossed right now hoping its not them. Seth Godin wrote a book entitled, “All marketers are liars.” Perhaps we could adapt this to automotive… That said, I am sure there are a number other names that could be mentioned here that I just haven’t stumbled across, but I am rambling and we need to begin…
Recently Wikimotive decided to revamp its SEO for Automotive clients reporting in an effort to provide more value and greater transparency to our clients. What I found was actually quite unexpected. While my expectations of our own service were right on, I discovered that some other companies out there are wasting their time and their clients’ money.
Let’s start with dealer.com. For the record, I think this is a wonderful website provider. Their technology is awesome and the ease of use of their products is without peer. But… they are LYING to their customers and this is unacceptable. As one might expect, a number of our SEO clients are also dealer.com clients. Recently, one of my dealer clients asked me to evaluate dealer.com’s dynamic SEO service and determine if they really needed both our SEO service and dealer.com’s SEO. To be clear, this wasn’t an us vs. them test. If I found that dealer.com was providing value he was going to pay for both services. He was merely seeking reassurance that he was getting or at least had the chance to get a return on investment.
After examining all of the keywords that dealer.com was reporting successful ranking on (16 pages of keywords) I found that nearly ALL of the keywords being tracked and touted as success had a whopping monthly search volume of… wait for it… ZERO. Let me say that again so it’s really clear to everyone. Dealer.com had successfully ranked this dealer for hundreds of keywords that NO ONE has ever searched for. I thought to myself, this must be a fluke. But after examining EVERY dealer.com client we work with, I found the same thing. PAGES UPON PAGES of keywords that no one has ever searched!
To be fair, dealer.com is not alone; in fact, I suspect there are hundreds of companies that should be standing in the corner of shame right along side them. The next offender is possibly even more shocking. Another client (also a dealer.com client) was thinking of cutting one of their services but wanted to be sure before they did and asked Wikimotive to do a review of their reporting. To be fair, I don’t think I even went in to this with the proper approach for my customers’ sake. I had met a few guys from CarMercial at the last Automotive Marketing Bootcamp this past spring and thought they had a good product. So I thought, sure! I’ll take a look and help those guys; the dealer probably can’t understand what they’re looking at.
Just so everyone knows what CarMercial is, they are a Video SEO company. Using YouTube and similar video platforms they obtain ranking in SERP for terms by optimizing the metadata of videos. When my client showed me the report, at first I was blown away. 585 keywords in one month! What a monumental task to take on 585 keywords and obtain page 1 rankings in a single month! But what did I find? 583 of those 585 keywords had NEVER been searched. ZERO MONTHLY SEARCH VOLUME.
THIS IS CRIMINAL! You are taking a dealer’s money and returning NO VALUE! How can you do that!?
At first I was just sort of stunned. I thought there had to be something wrong. A reporting error on my end. Why would a vendor waste their time on so many things that accomplished nothing? 583 keywords that couldn’t possibly create an ROI… It really gave a lot of credence to what Steve Staunning said about wanting to avoid the made up rewards these companies had received in his Dealers United launch for SEO providers. I mean, CarMercial is littered with awards on their website but to see a PCG Digital Marketing AWA award on there really turned my stomach. I’ve known Brian Pasch for years now and just can’t believe something this blatant would be accepted as passable let alone purported as best of the best. This puts the entire AWA awards’ credibility in to question in my mind. Brian, time to inspect what you expect.
I wrote back in June, that perhaps car dealers aren’t the lazy ones many of us in the vendor world claim them to be when it comes to online marketing. This clearly confirms it. I guess it is easier to automate something and just run a business on the hype that abc product is something a dealer needs regardless of whether or not the end user receives any real value. Personally, I think it is shameful. So I am putting a no strings offer out there.
Any dealer who would like an honest, no strings attached evaluation of the SEO reporting that their SEO company is doing for them can contact me and we’ll pay real close attention to the man behind your curtain. Truly, no strings. Ask and ye shall receive.
Before I go, I would like to point out one hero in all of this. Maybe that is an overstatement. I guess doing things honestly and correctly now makes you a hero, but for the record, I’ve had… lets say a, rocky at times and adversarial at other times, relationship with TK Carsites (now KPA). I may not be the biggest fan of their website platform. I may not be the biggest fan of their customer service (at times). But their SEO is what they advertise it to be. I expected to find a lot of keywords in their reporting that had zero search volume, but it was NOT the case. All of the keywords were valuable honest to goodness searches that people in their dealers’ markets were searching for.
My recommendation for dealers going forward is to require the following 3 criteria from your SEO company’s monthly reporting:
– Keyword Positioning
-Search Volume for each ranking keyword
-Link to every page of content, press release, slideshare, and link that was built, etc.