Facebook for Auto Dealers: Meh, Myth or Legend?

We’re all familiar with Facebook and that 18 million of us Canadians visit the site daily, but what’s in it for the dealership? As a dealership, can you utilize Facebook and all of its data for more than likes and shares?

Some dealers have remained skeptical and think successful advertising on Facebook is a myth. However, after reading the data in Facebook’s latest study, that myth is busted. Continue reading “Facebook for Auto Dealers: Meh, Myth or Legend?”

SEO Ranking Factors for Your Car Dealership in 2014

I’ve finally found some time to make an update on my previous post SEO ranking factors for 2013. There have been many important changes this past year and I wanted to talk about what will be important for your dealership website in 2014.

Secure Search & Hummingbird Conversational Content

Perhaps the biggest, most radical change of the year was Google’s move to 100% secure search in late September. Most SEOs had been watching the rising amount of keywords moving into the (Not Provided) keyword batch, but we didn’t think it was going to come so soon.

Secure search and the Hummingbird algorithm change were released just a few months apart, and it totally makes sense why Google did this. Google wants websites to start creating content around topics rather than specific keywords. The Hummingbird algorithm asks website owners to start thinking more about the meaning of keywords on a page.

This is another push to ensure they only rank the highest quality websites for their searchers. The Panda update was all about punishing websites with thin and low-quality content, and it followed other updates that penalized keyword stuffing.

Since Google has been pushing out so many updates focusing on ranking sites with quality content, it’s safe to say we need to continue producing  great content for our sites.

For car dealerships, that includes things like content-rich landing pages where car buyers can research vehicles and get the information they need without having to visit manufacturer websites.  Blogs are also another great way to add new content to your site and you can schedule to write them weekly to keep your content fresh.

Not Provided Meme. Source: goelastic.com
Source: goelastic.com

Tips for Thriving in the Age of Google Hummingbird

  • Think about topics rather than keywords when writing content for your website.
  • Answer searchers’ questions: Ask yourself what questions the page answers. Are there different synonyms for the keyword topics that you can use on the page?
  • Seek out legitimate businesses similar to yours to link to. Ensure that the link has something to do with the partners’ content on their site.
  • Try to get irrelevant links to your site removed. If you are having difficulty doing this, use the Google links disavow tool.

Adwords PPC Has a New Relationship with SEO

Since Google decided to encrypt most keyword data in Google Analytics, our ability to see which keywords are bringing in web traffic is limited. However, there is a loophole: this data is still available in a PPC Adwords campaign. Increasing your pay per click (PPC) budget can now help SEOs analyze the keyword data available in an Adwords campaign.

SEO PPC Source: webdesign.org
Source: webdesign.org

Google Loves a Website that Loads Quickly

Google favours websites that load more quickly than others. This makes sense: who wants to sit and wait for a website to load for more than 5 seconds? In today’s technology-saturated world, people are impatient and if they don’t get the results they are looking for within seconds, they will go somewhere else. It’s just like if someone were to walk into your dealership and not receive any service within the first few minutes. It’s not minutes online—it’s seconds.

To ensure our sites load quickly we must:

  • Keep our sites free of too many large, uncompressed images.
  • Limit the number of sliders and carousels we use per page.
  • Limit the number of images we include in our sliders and carousels.

Mobile

Mobile searches have now surpassed desktop searches in the USA. Do you have a mobile friendly website? You had better! Today’s car buyers search cars for sale on their mobile phones while on the go.

Mobile search growth over desktop

Check out Strathcom’s Mobile Website Services

Rich Snippets

More information is starting to show up right in search results to tempt searchers to click on your listings.

For some websites, you can now see product pricing, if a product is in stock, reviews and ratings, authorship images, contact information and more—right on your Google search results page.

This data has been marked up using something called a rich snippet. Although it’s not a ranking factor, it does increase your click-through rate, which in turn increases the traffic to your site (which is in turn a ranking factor).

Authorship markup
Authorship markup
Products in stock markup
Products in stock markup

 

Review markup
Review markup

Online Chatter & Social Media

You just gotta do it! You gotta get out of traditional marketing and get into the realm of Social Media. The world is changing every day, and if you don’t change with it, you will be left behind. You just gotta get out of there!

Social Media isn’t there just for your customers to complain to you and it’s not just a fad. Social Media can actually help you sell more cars online and improve the ranking of your website. More and more Social Media platforms are being created every day, and many are booming with instant popularity. Pinterest and Instagram are some of the “newer” accounts that your dealership should be engaging in.

Today, diversification is a major trend:  it’s no longer enough to be active on a single network like Facebook.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you writing content that people will want to share?
  • Is your content easily shareable? Do you have share buttons on your website?
  • Are you active on the social networks that matter in the automotive industry?
  • Are you active on the social networks that matter to your customers?

Social Media is important, as Google’s continued algorithm updates are relying more and more on social signals. Social media accounts also spread your content around the web, marketing your site to those who don’t know who you are yet.

Google+ is one Social Media account a is complete must for any dealership. Your Google+ profile marries with your website, helping you boost your authority and increase visibility in local search queries. Since your dealership is a local businesses, it’s essential to claim your Places page and pimp out your Google+ profile.

Content Marketing is Huge

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. – Content Marketing Institute

From an SEO standpoint, Google takes content marketing as a sign that a company or business is legitimate and something that they would want to support through a higher ranking in search engine results.

Content Marketing Complies with Many SEO Ranking Signals

  • Your searchers will have regular new content they can engage with to answer their questions.
  • Your social signals and engagement will increase.
  • “Fresh” content signals that your site is alive and growing.
  • You benefit from increased authority connected to your entire business.

There you have it. Content is still king, and it looks like it always will be. SEO is online marketing and it’s not just about keywords anymore; it’s about marketing your website online and not just offline. The more your website is talked about, shared, “liked,” “plussed” and visited, the better your chances of ranking at the top of Google’s search engine result pages.

If you have any questions about how to get started with the online marketing and SEO of your website, contact us.

~ Samantha Goettel

Google Adds Fuel Economy Ratings to Search Results

Google’s been busy lately: they’ve already been testing a new type of automotive ads in Europe and have added cars to their knowledge graph in the U.S.

I was doing a quick Google search for fuel economy this morning (this is through Google.ca—right here in Canada), and noticed another new feature on the search engine results page (SERP):

Google Adds Fuel Economy to Search Results

Fuel economy in MPG now shows up for a variety of new cars and trucks. I tested it on a few domestic and import brands including Ford, Dodge, Toyota and Honda, and ratings currently appear for many recent 2013 and 2014 models (there’s nothing for used vehicles).

You don’t even need to include the vehicle brand in the search. Just search for “Prius fuel economy” and Google automatically figures out you’re talking about the Toyota Prius. Very cool.

Prius Fuel Economy Search.

This is yet another indication that Google is increasing their focus on the Auto Industry. While these fuel economy ratings are for U.S. models and only appear in U.S. (as opposed to Imperial) Miles Per Gallon, it’s worth noting that this data is already available in Google Canada searches.

It’s only a matter of time before all of these new Google features come to the Canadian market, and more automotive data is already being added quickly, just as we anticipated.

Wondering how all of this affects your Canadian car dealership? Contact Strathcom Media for more information on what to do about Google’s latest updates.

13 Tips to Winterize Your Car Dealership

If you’re in the automotive industry, then you know all about winterizing vehicles. But have you ever considered what you should be doing to winterize your car dealership?

The winter months tend to bring with them a slow-down in sales, but they don’t have to. Your customers haven’t flown south for the winter (well, apart from the lucky ones). No, your customers are still right here—but the way they buy cars has changed with the drop in temperatures.

Learn how you can adapt to these changes with 13 tips that you can use to winterize your car dealership and overcome the winter slump with our latest Ebook:

Free Ebook Download

winterize ebook

If your customer has the choice between standing out in the cold or browsing your inventory from the comfort of their own home, where do you think they’ll be? They’ll be on your online dealership, shopping from home.

That’s why optimizing your website is key to giving customers the information and incitement that they need for it to be worth making the trek to your physical store.

Don’t sit down and accept that winter is a “slow” time for sales at your dealership. When you get aggressive with your online sales strategy, you can overcome the winter slump and improve sales all year long.

Key Points

Here are a few tips to get you started (you’ll find the rest, plus in-depth explanations and examples, in our ebook above):

  1. Have a well-presented, clean inside area allotted for photographing your vehicles.
  2. Write your descriptions with the weather in mind.
  3. Focus your online marketing strategy towards winter: emphasize things like All Wheel Drive Vehicles, winter tires and remote starter installation.
  4. Don’t resign to the idea that ‘the winter is quiet’ for sales! People still buy cars, and in the winter they need them quicker than ever. Cater to this need and overtake other dealerships that have gone into hibernation.
  5. When things are quieter, get a handle on your social media outlets. Use your team effectively to improve your social media presence.
  6. Get a winter advertising campaign up and running! Combine things like PPC, display advertising and other online advertising methods to bring in customers out of the cold.
  7. Get Blogging! Now is a better time than ever to put on your ‘writer’ hat and catch up on your blog. Check out 15 winter blog topics to get started.

Feel free to contact Strathcom Media if you have any questions, ideas for our next ebook — or want to talk about anything at all!

Google Tests Automotive Ads on Google Graph

Google tests everything. Every piece of software starts in testing mode where it is never 100% bug-free or ready for the user.

Take Google+ Places; it can be a nightmare when you claim your listing and then you can’t respond to reviews. Or Universal Analytics, a new service Google is pushing Analytics users to upgrade to that doesn’t even integrate with Google Adwords Display yet.

Google is still a young tech company that’s ahead of the game. Even though their new products can be annoying to use in the beginning, they often grow to become the best in the world—and they can become essential tools to help your dealership sell more cars online.

This October I covered how the Google Hummingbird update increased the speed of conversational search in the Google Knowledge Graph. This week we looked at how Google added cars to the Knowledge Graph in the USA.

Now it looks like Google is testing ads in the Knowledge Graph for car dealerships in Spain. Gianluca Fiorelli from Spain shared a screen shot of the advertisement on Twitter:

Automotive Advertisements in Knowledge Graph (Source Search Engine Land)
The advertisement comes from a search for a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro. As you can see, the advertisement is recommending dealerships nearby that sell a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro. It doesn’t look like these tests have reached North America, but are popping up in Spain.

In the future, such an advertisement could be very useful for your dealership. Once Google is done their tests, hopefully this feature will be readily available in Canada.

Strathcom Media Makes Auto Remarketing Canada’s Power 120 List

Automotive Remarketing Canada

Auto Remarketing Canada recently released a special fall 2013 edition of their digital news magazine, introducing the inaugural Power 120 list to highlight the most influential companies in the Canadian used car and remarketing industry – and Strathcom Media made the list!

We are privileged to be listed next to some of the industry’s biggest players including heavy-hitters like Kijiji Autos and CarProof. The Power 120 list includes a mix from across the industry including tech firms, auto lenders, inspection companies and dealer associations.

According to Auto Remarketing Canada, to make the list a company must make a “significant impact” on the industry. Some are just beginning to make waves in the business, while others are already well-known pillars of the industry.

“We at Auto Remarketing Canada are very excited about the chance to highlight some of the remarketing industry’s biggest players in our […] Power 100 issue,” said Bill Zadeits, publisher of Auto Remarketing Canada.

For over 15 years, Strathcom Media has been providing industry-leading online services including automotive remarketing to car dealerships in Canada.

Learn More about Our Remarketing Services

15 Winter Blog Topics for Your Car Dealership

Winter is already here in some parts of Canada, and if you live in Edmonton (or almost anywhere not on the coast) that means you can look forward to mother nature’s icy death-grip for the next six months or more.

When snow slows down sales at your car dealership, it helps to have an online strategy in place to give you a steady supply of warm leads. Your car dealership’s blog is a great place to start, and if things are already slowing down at your dealership then it’s also a great time to sit down, pull out your pen (or keyboard) and get writing.

Last September we gave you 15 topics to get your car dealership blog started. We already covered how important it is for your car dealership to blog regularly. Google loves fresh content, and a healthy blog shows Google that your site is always being updated and properly maintained. Blogging also increases your chances of receiving more inbound links, which act like online recommendations. When people like the content on your website, they are more likely to share it and online recommendations are a ranking factor.

Companies who blog on average have 55% more visitors, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages than companies that don’t blog.

Now that we agree that blogging is a great way to get more online leads, how do you get started? To get your creative juices flowing, we have 15 new blog topics that your car dealership can use in the cold winter months to come:

Blogging Works

15 Winter Blog Topics

1. How to Choose the Right Winter Tires for Your Vehicle

2. Do You Really Need Winter Tires if you Have All-Seasons?

3. Winterizing Your Vehicle: Why and How

4. How to Jump Start a Car

5. How to Shop for a Car without Getting Frostbite (find it online & then come in to our warm showroom)

6. New Car Features to Keep You Warm This Winter

7. Remote Car Starters – How do they work?

8. Block Heaters & Plugging Your Car in

Download a Free Ebook on The 5 Biggest Blogging Mistakes & How to Fix Them

9. Is There a Difference Between Summer & Winter Wiper Blades?

10. Best Windshield Coatings for Winter

11. What Winter Fluids do I Need to Keep my Car Running Safely?

12. What Should be Included in a Vehicle’s Winter Emergency Kit?

13. What to do When You get in a Winter Accident

14. How to Drive Safely on Ice and Snow

15. The Benefits of All-Wheel drive in Winter Conditions

If you already have your blog set up on your website. Check  out our video on how to post a blog post so it’s SEO friendly.

Posting an SEO friendly blog post

 

Or if you are interested in signing up for our blog service for your car dealership website, contact us today.

For more  tips on Blogging the right way download our e- book on the 5 Biggest Blogging Mistakes and how to fix them.

5 biggest blogging mistakes & how to fix them. Download Free today

Now get blogging!

~ Samantha Goettel

Fixed Ops: The Future Is Here

Google has become pretty good at predicting the future, or rather telling us all how they are shaping the future. Google’s latest rabbit-out-of-a-hat? Openbay.

Openbay is a first-of-its-kind online service and mobile app that helps customers find, book and pay for local car repair and maintenance services. Through the app or the website, the consumer can decide which service provider they’d like to go with based on price, distance, ratings and amenities; then they book and pay for the repair. No muss, no fuss.

iPhone
Mobile app that helps customers find, book and pay for local car repair and maintenance services.

 

This is a game changer for Fixed Ops. There is no bait and switch, there is no “bring in your loyalty card for 10% off,” no free “multi-point” inspection and no free alignment checks to get them in the door. The customer simply decides who’s offering and price suits them best.

openbay strathcom media

    KEY POINTS:

  • It’s free—well, for the customer. The dealer has to pay 10% of the quote to OpenBay if they get booked.
  • Over 400 service providers are currently signed up.
  • The pilot was done in Boston, and was rolled out US-wide as of Monday. There is no news on Canada yet.
  • Google Ventures funded this project, and they have a great track record. We’re predicting this app will be successful, especially since everyone wants to “know a good mechanic.”

TAKEAWAY:

  • Soon customers won’t even see the search engine result page, or your newspaper ad, or your billboard or your wacky waving inflatable man. In the end, it will come down to transparency, and positive word of mouth. Dealers who aren’t preparing for that eventuality NOW will be left behind.

IN-STORE ACTION ITEMS:

  • Better late than never. Be clear about your service prices and create a culture of up-front disclosure with your customers. Start review initiatives in-store with your team, speak to your staff about what it means to be customer-focused and share with them what people say about your dealership online.  

 If you aren’t sure where to start or how this may affect your dealership, join us for our next Fixed Ops TOAST session.

Google Partners Pumpkin Halloween Contest & Costumes

Being a Google Partner has its perks. A week before Halloween, Strathcom received a mysterious brown box all the way from Wisconsin with a return label from Google Partners.

When we opened the box we were surprised with a real live pumpkin, complete with a handy dandy carving knife and an invite card.

 

Google-Partner-Pumpkin

 

We were invited to a Google Partners Pumpkin carving contest. Instructions were to carve our pumpkin and submit it to the Google Partners Pumpkin event on Google+

Google Partner Pumpkin Event

 

Our designers got to work. We wanted to do something Google-y and Halloween-y, so our final design by Dana was an Android (Google’s Operating system mascot robot) Zombie, complete with a moon, bats and a graveyard. Our artistic Administrative Assistant Sarah got to work with Dana’s creative design.

 

Here was the final carved pumpkin!

Zombie Android Pumpkin
Zombie Android

 

Android Zombie
Zombie Android with Moon and Bats

 

Moon & Bats Pumpkin Carving
Bats and Moon on One Side

 

Graveyard pumpkin carving
Graveyard Carving on the Other Side

Well done guys!

We submitted them and received Pluses in hopes of winning some sweet Google swag!

While we wait to see if we won any cool Google paraphernalia, check out some of the awesome Strathcomian Halloween Costumes:

Strathcom Media 2013 Halloween Costumes

Skeleton makeup
Trish as a Deathly Skeleton
Senior Developer Halloween Costume
Ryan as a “Senior” Developer
"cereal" killer costume
Sarah as a “Cereal” Killer
Harry Potter or Cho Chang
Carrie Potter.. Harry Potter? Cho Chang?
Senior Designer Halloween Costume
Ella as a “Senior” Designer
Grumpy Cat Halloween Costume
Erin as Grumpy Cat

 

Happy Halloween from everyone at Strathcom Media!

Stay Classy Dodge: Chrysler Delivers with New Anchorman Campaign

How do you get Millennials interested in a domestically-produced brand? How do you engage a younger consumer-base to buy something they perceive as “their Dad’s” SUV? You take one of the most-beloved pop-culture characters of their generation and you have him wax philosophical about glove boxes and gripe about ballroom dancers. It seems Chrysler is finding success with just that formula.

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell’s fictional character from the Anchorman franchise) is the new spokesman for the Dodge Durango. A series of hilarious ads has been released featuring the bumbling Burgundy showing off a “beast of a machine” and highlighting the features of Dodge’s newest SUV.

In a brilliant move, Chrysler had Ferrell write and produce the ads in exchange for promoting the upcoming Anchorman 2 movie. Ferrell has 70 ads set to launch between now and the film’s December release date.

Ron Burgundy wants you to Drive a Dodge Durango

Chrysler really nailed it with this campaign, having already hit 3.5 million views in a matter of days. Are the videos informative? Not terribly. Are they full of typical “car effects” (whirring motors, panoramic shots, and closed course stunt driving)? Nope. It’s just typical Burgundy banter, but it is hilarious for those that have fallen in love with this character.

How do you do something similar for your dealership? Chrysler obviously has a significant budget, but it is possible for dealers to emulate this type of success on a smaller scale:

  • Write blogs relevant to the market you want to attract: why smartphone users love the Cadillac ATS, 5 Things The Big Bang Theory taught me about buying a car—you get the picture. Find a relevant topic and make it about your product.

  • Think outside the marketing box: Not everything is starbursts, free BBQs and balloons. Differentiate yourself from the competition with new, unique ways of targeting your buyers. Offer free breakfast at the diner across the street for your service customers. Distribute USBs with student-only sales offers at the local University. BE DIFFERENT.
  • Entertain Them: Everybody wants to laugh; find a way to deliver your brand message in a funny way. Whether in videos, blogs or even in social media, if you can make them smile that’s half the battle.

Check out our favourite Burgundy videos:

What Are Hashtags and How Do I Use Them?

What is a Hashtag? You’ve probably heard about hashtags, and you may or may not know what they are, or how they work. What is Hashtagging? Basically it involves tagging a word, series of words, video or picture by using a hash mark (#). For example, #BMW or #Ford. The #sign makes a searchable tag and allows users to search for a particular subject.

Hashtags2

Who Uses Them?

GooglePlusHashtags

According to a survey from RadiumOne, “Unlike other forms of social sharing, hashtags implicitly reflect customer sentiment and are one of the most powerful ways consumers have to vocalize their tastes and preferences at scale in a real-time fashion,” said Kamal Kaur, vice president, mobile at RadiumOne. “We conducted this survey to help advertisers better manage their brands by responding to the needs and wants of their client base through winning hashtag campaigns.” Key findings from the survey, which polled the opinions of 494 participants, include:

  • 58 percent of respondents utilize hashtags on a regular basis, and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices.
  • 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest.
  • 51 percent of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product-based hashtags.
  • 41 percent of respondents use hashtags to communicate personal ideas and feelings.

Google has just announced they will now allow you to search for Google+ posts by using hashtags. This means users will now be able to search for hashtags like #Dodge and get a list of relevant Google+ posts in the right-hand sidebar.

How Are Hashtags Different from a Regular Search?

You can be found by an entirely new audience. Hashtags let users search through everything that is public. As a result, people who don’t even know your store or your page could find you if you are using the correct hashtags. Use your dealership name and your primary keywords as hashtags. Example: #GothamMotors #Cadillac #Buick #CarRepair. Use them on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Instagram, etc.

Hashtag Etiquette


Hashtags can be ridiculously annoying; just ask Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. So make sure you do it right:

  1. Don’t use too many words — ain’t nobody got time for that! #Checkoutthelatesttoyotacamryinyeg is not something people are looking for. If you have to use a couple of words, make sure you capitalize each word, like #FuelEconomy and #FordFusion
  2. Don’t tag every word. #We #are #having #a #private #sale is ANNOYING.
  3. Don’t tag something just because it’s trendy, especially if it’s unrelated. “I bet #Miley would love this Chevrolet Cruze! #wreckingball” — NO.
  4. Try to put them at the end of your post. It looks better and is not annoying to the reader.
    We’re having a customer appreciation BBQ. Come on by! #GothamMotors #BBQ #GothamEvents

HashtagsFollowers

Strathcom Tip: If you want to see where a lot of your branded car terms are being hashtagged, check out tagboard.com this awesome site searches all the social sites to show you a list of hashtag results!

Tagboardscreenshot

 

Content Strategy: How to Take Your Dealership's Content to the Next Level

Content for Car Dealers Strathcom had the privilege of attending a seminar recently put on by LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network (225 million members can’t be wrong). LinkedIn held an invite-only workshop that focused on the merits of Content Marketing. Sitting down with Jason Miller, Content Strategist at LinkedIn (previously of Marketo fame) was very enlightening. Not only does Jason have great taste in music and a pretty impressive list of viral posts under his belt, he also has a key understanding of marketplace dynamics and knows how to give people what they want. Here are my key takeaways from Jason’s presentation 1. The Power of Social Media Social Media Content Marketing Strathcom

  • 2011 was the year of social media.

  • 2012 was the year of content.

  • 2013 is the year social media and content come together.

You need to be delivering content to your customers in the format they want to see it. Explore new options in addition to Facebook and Twitter like Vine, Pinterest, Slideshare to grow your client base and reach a new audience. Between 7% and 13% of traffic is dependent on social signals, so the more influential the people that share your content are, the better. 2. Change the Mantra from “Always be Closing” to “Always be Helping.” always be closing Your content should helpful, not sales driven. Provide value first. If your customers (and the search engines) feel that you and your site are a resource of information and provide a wealth of knowledge, you will get more traffic and more leads. Keeping your content consistent is key; make sure it’s frequently updated and supports your brand message. 3. You Have to Pay to Play Use specific targeting in Social Media and PPC to showcase your great content to a captive audience (these campaigns can be so specific as to target gender, income, interests, marital status, etc.). 4. Repurpose! repurpose content strathcom Think of your content as Thanksgiving Dinner. Serve it up as a blog, and then reuse that content in a webinar or infographic. Some content works better in different formats, so experiment. 5. Keep it Entertaining Let Strathcom Entertain You with Content There is a reason that singing goats went viral. People like to be entertained. Make it funny, make it original and find a way to connect your message to popular culture. To see the rest of Jason’s take on Content Marketing for Canadians, check out his slideshare presentation or follow him on Twitter.

Another Bird Has Joined the Google Algorithm Family

By now, one should not be surprised that Google has launched another huge algorithm change. Google updates their algorithm several hundred times a year, launching large updates and then tweaking those updates — sometimes almost daily.

The two largest updates in the past that affected many websites were the Google Panda and Google Penguin update.

We now welcome another bird into the algorithm family. Meet the new Google Hummingbird search engine. This change is not just an update but a whole new algorithm, which was announced during Google’s 15th birthday party on Thursday, September 29th, 2013. However, this was not the launch date of the algorithm. Google announced that the change was already set in place, and has already been running for the past few months. It is essentially an update to its Knowledge Graph, much like the Facebook Graph Search announcement from January of this year.

Google Hummingbird

Google Knowledge Graph

Knowledge Graph was added to Google’s search engine in May, 2012, starting in the United States. It is essentially an immense database enhanced with something called semantic search. Semantic search improved search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable database. For example, instead of only finding websites related to keywords, Google can now parse data from strings of keywords — essentially full-length questions — and provide it right in their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). An example of semantic search in the Knowledge Graph is the informative box that pops up on side of SERP. See the Tom Cruise example below.

Semantic Search

As you can see below, when searching for “Tom Cruise,” the Knowledge Graph used semantic search and anticipated what I may search for. It has used the most popular searches about Tom Cruise and compiled them in one place, directly in the SERP so that one does not need to click into several websites to finish their search on Tom Cruise. The information below shows me his birthday, how tall he is (because he’s really short), what his upcoming movies are, recent news on him and his top movies.

Semantic Search example

 

As you can see, Google is now able to map relationships between many things and answer complex queries itself, all based on information compiled from many sources on the Internet.

Google can now understand more complex strings of searches, particularly questions such as this distance question below:

Google Knowledge Graph distance calculator

 

Just like the Facebook Graph Search, your more complex questions can now be answered without having to visit a website.

What Exactly Is Hummingbird?

The Hummingbird algorithm primarily improves the speed of these more complex searches. Hence being named after the quick and speedy hummingbird.

Thanks to http://leocervas.deviantart.com/art/Hummingbird-Animation-305115653

How Does the Hummingbird Algorithm Affect the Automotive Industry?

We have to remember that the Knowledge Graph and semantic search are still very new. Not everything is available in the database yet. Over the years, the Graph will become smarter and may soon answer extremely complicated queries in every industry.

For now, it doesn’t look like there is any automotive information available in the Graph. I performed several searches related to the automotive industry and no information was available; just your regular old URLs popped up.

Google search for fuel economy

Google search where is the closest toyota dealership

Google Search: Where can I get auto financing

 

How to Stay Ahead and Not Get Caught up in Algorithm Updates: What Does It Mean for SEO?

Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content with highly relevant websites linking to your website, then your website still should rank well. The key to making proper decisions about SEO is to understand where Google is going. Google’s end goal is to provide their searchers exactly what they searched for. If your website doesn’t answer a question that a user is asking, then it won’t rank well. If your website provides information that users are searching for, it will remain in the top of the SERPs. If people are recommending your site because it has great information, then your site will rank, if no one is recommending the site online, then perhaps you need to re-think the content that you have on your website.

  • Listen to your clients. Are there questions that are asked daily in the dealership? Consider creating landing pages and tracking their success to determine which content should be available on your website. Continue to provide your expertise on landing pages so that your website is ready to answer searchers’ questions in the automotive industry.
  • Are there new vehicle models? Create landing pages explaining what is unique about a new model.
  • Are you engaging with your clients online? 90% of car buyers use social media in their car buying process. Build relationships with your clients online and answer their questions for them. In turn, people will link to your content (more online recommendations) and begin to trust your knowledge of the automotive industry.
  • Encourage reviews. Let your clients know that if they enjoyed their experience with you, that you are online on Yelp and Google+ and you would appreciate a review. The more online recommendations, the better the rankings!
  • Are you staying up-to-date with new SEO features that are now available such as Rich Snippets?

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us today at contact@strathcom.com or call us at (780) 433-8844 or toll-free at 1 (888) 914-1444.

Do People Use Social Media in Their Car Buying Process?

I run into a lot of people who don’t “believe” in Social Media. They don’t believe that one can market, attract customers and build relationships on multiple social media mediums. No offence to those of you out there, but not “believing” in social media is like not believing in the internet.

The Internet Should Be Shut Down

I  ran into an American couple in Costa Rica who told me they thought the Internet plug should be snipped because it was ruining their local pool business in Minnesota. He said his business was being ruined because of other pool companies that were on this thing called “the Internet.” This was in 2012 not the late 1990’s. It’s mind boggling that people believe something should be obliterated or think it doesn’t work because they don’t know how to use it or because they don’t use it themselves. Instead of wanting to shut it down, this fine gentleman could have simply adopted this new craze — “The Internet” — and started selling his pool systems online.

Shut down the internet

To Believe or Not to Believe

When it comes to Social Media, if you don’t like to share your life with your friends and family, it doesn’t mean nobody else does. There are plenty of people who wish to share every second of their lives with everyone. There are those that like to use Social Media to ask questions and some who like to use Social Media to keep up-to-date with the latest LOLCAT. Whatever type of social media-er you are, there are all sorts who are using social media in the car buying process. Because of the Internet, people can research cars before stepping foot in a dealership, and over 90% of people now use the Internet before buying a car. Here is an example right on my Facebook page of how people really DO use Social Media in their decision period before buying a car: social media & car buying #1 social media & car buying #2   That’s 18 replies and over 12 vehicle recommendations including a magic school bus that runs on unicorn farts! These people are advertising vehicle brand for free! This is why, as a car dealership in Canada, you should be advertising and readily available on Social Media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to answer questions that potential customers may have while they are researching cars online.

Online Reviews

The above feed also suggests the importance of pushing for online reviews. Each reply to my friend’s question is basically a short online review for an SUV or van that they trust and are happy with. People trust their friends and family. Online reviews also help with the ranking of your Google+ Place page and your website. Reviews are very important for your business, however you do not want to pay or give out prizes in exchange for reviews. If Google or Yelp catches a business doing this, they will pull your reviews and may publicly shame your business. Here are some ways to get more reviews and keep them positive: 1. Post signs in your dealership saying you are on Yelp, Google+ and Apple Maps 2. Provide your clients with links to your Yelp and Google+ review pages on your website or in email signatures 3.  Let your clients know that if they are happy with their experience with you, they can review you online 4. If by chance you get a bad review, reply to it and help resolve the issue. If your customer’s issue is resolved, they will often take down the negative review. Reputation management is very important for your local dealership!

Online Reviews

For more questions Contact Us today!Contact us for more information on Social Media for your car dealership

  Happy Social Media-ing!   ~ Samantha Goettel

Driving Change with the United Way

Delicious Mac n' Cheese and Bison & Elk Dog from Bully Food Truck “Back to school” brings about an abundance of emotions. On the one hand, there’s the excitement and promise of new beginnings. On the other hand, there’s the end of warm weather and the transition back to structured schedules. The Wheaton Automotive Group decided they would make the first week back just a little bit easier for all of us, and that a great party was the way to do it.

The Event on Whyte Ave

On September 6th, I ventured out to the Southpark lot on Whyte Avenue, and beneath the iconic neon sign had a great evening of local food, local music and charitable giving. Driving Change was a fundraising event put on by Drive Wheaton in support of the United Way. southpark The three dealerships that comprise Drive Wheaton (Sun Toyota, Wheaton Honda and Don Wheaton) have always been champions of the United Way and wanted a fun way to involve their local community in a cause that has been very close to their hearts.

Who Is the Wheaton Group?

The Wheaton Group’s founder, the late Donald Wheaton, firmly believed in giving back to those in need.

“My father always said that out of every eight-hour work day, one hour was always to be spent giving back to the community,” says Don A. Wheaton Jr. “He passed on to our generation to carry on that support and we are passing that on to the next generation.”  

Music, Food & The United Way

Local band Maple Tea (featuring Strathcom’s very own Director of Training Stuart Bendall) performed on a flatbed truck (reminiscent of the Stones rolling down 5th Avenue) and treated the audience to a wealth of cover-tune favourites including Coldplay, U2 and Guns N’ Roses. A further delight for the senses was the food. Oh, the glorious food. Drive Wheaton amassed a staggering 11 food trucks, bringing together the biggest, baddest collection of local cuisine Edmonton has to offer. I reveled in homemade ice cream sandwiches, creamy mac n’ cheese and more gooey fried goodness than I care to admit.   The United Way was there to share the difference they make locally: to create opportunities for a better life for everyone in our community. Strathcom Media was proud to be one of the sponsors of this fantastic night of giving and we look forward to the next Drive Wheaton event.

Strathcom's Director of Training Stuart Bendall performing with his band Maple Tea
Strathcom’s Director of Training Stuart Bendall performing with his band Maple Tea

Strathcom Team Building day

Strathcom Media employees had a wonderful team building day last Wednesday August 28th to celebrate the end of summer & all our hard work this past year.

Chefs
We started off the afternoon with some short ribs & some personal chefs.
eating food
Everyone filling up on salads & short ribs.

After we filled our hungry bellies with scrumptious mandarin vegetable salad, Mediterranean orzo salad, salty beef short ribs, sweet fruit salad & cookies, we were ready to begin our Minute To Win It team building challenge. The popular TV Show Minute To Win It is a game show where teams have to complete tasks in the quickest amount of time within a minute time frame. The team with the least amount of time wins free lunch for a week! With free lunches at stake, everyone was down to compete good and hard.

yoyo
The first minute to win it challenge objective was “knock the cans off the boxes with a yo yo tied to your waist”
yoyo challenge
This challenge was tough for tall people as you see here with Rob Golden our fabulous Controller.
Face cookie challenge
Our fearless leader David Lord leads the “Get the cookie in your mouth without using your hands” challenge.
Cookie Challenge
Troy our Director of Support cautiously tries to get a delicious cookie into his mouth.
Toilet Paper Challenge
The next challenge objective was “Who can unroll a whole roll of toilet paper around their body without it breaking”
Toilet Paper Challenge
DLord is twisted up like a mummy in this challenge.
Balloon Challenge
The 4th challenge was “who can keep 3 balloons in the air the longest”
Balloon Challenge
Dave Lam our Web Design Lead tries to keep all 3 of his balloons in the air.
Balloon Challenge
It was breezy day & one of the most unsuccessful challenges.
Kleenex Challenge
The second last challenge was “who can pull out kleenex from 2 boxes the fastest”
Kleenex Challenge
Things got a little kleenexy
Don't Blow the Joker
The last challenge was called “Don’t blow the joker”. The objective of the game was to blow the whole deck of cards off of the glass except the last card which is the joker. Here we see Duncan Cochrane our VP of Sales getting ready to blow his cards.
Don't blow the joker
Aaron Fay our Development Manager looks at his final card left on his glass. Way to go!

All in all we had a blast playing A Minute to Win It & enjoying our tasty food to celebrate all our hard work over the past year at Strathcom Media.

 

Local Ranking Factors in 2013 for your Car Dealership

Local SEO: A specialized kind of online marketing that increases visibility for businesses interested in ranking for geographically-related searches. Example local SEO keyword phrase: “Toyota Edmonton.”

Today, SEO is no longer just about putting keywords into your website. A few years ago, no one was implementing SEO on their websites. It was easy to rank at the top of the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) just by doing a bit of keyword research, adding the keywords to your title tags, meta descriptions and website content and building some links.

Things have changed. Google updates their algorithm constantly so that black hat and spammy SEO tactics won’t get you to the coveted spots at the top of the SERPs.

Check out this video on how Google makes improvements to its search algorithm:

To give your website the best chance of ranking at the top of Google and other popular search engines in 2013, you must consider some important ranking factors:

On-Site Ranking Factors

Google Page Rank

Domain and page authority of a website

  • Domain Authority affected by how long the domain has been active on the internet and how much traffic it receives.
  • Individual Page Authority is how much traffic your individual landing pages receive.

Content on your website

  • Should be unique and informative (was keyword research performed to find what is unique and searched for?)
  • Should NOT be copied from other sources on the Internet
  • Should be updated regularly with information and tips (A blog can build authority here)
  • Should use relevant product or service keywords

Landing page meta titles and descriptions

  • Should mention city, province, products and services

Local phone number and address

  • Should appear in footer of the website. This assures Google that you are a real brick and mortar business.

Rich snippets

Rich snippets are a few lines of text you can mark up on your website that show up directly in the search engine result pages. They are designed to give users more information about what the page is about before they click on the link.

Some relevant rich snippets for car dealership websites can be: Auto dealer, Automotive repair, Local business and even vehicle reviews. Below is an example of a reviews rich snippet in action:

Rich Snippets

Website URLs

  • Using a product or service in your URL helps Google understand what the page is about, improving your ranking for that product or service. Example (for keyword “winter tires”): www.cardealer.com/winter-tires/ 

  • As does a geographic keyword or location in the URL: www.cardealer.com/edmonton-winter-tires/

Offsite Ranking Factors

CItations

Citations

Citations are listings of your business contact information online (even if there isn’t an accompanying link to your website) and always include your address, phone number and other information about your business.

You can add citations with your business information to a number of local and dealership directories. It’s important for Local SEO, as Google Maps often uses citation information to verify the correctness of its business listings.

Google looks at the quantity and authority of citations for your business when determining your website’s page rank.

NAP Consistency

The “NAP” in NAP Consistency stands for Name Address Phone Number. When your business is mentioned in citations, it is important that all of these elements are listed in a consistent manner.

For example, you don’t want to call your business “Joe’s Volkswagens” in one place, and  “Joe’s VWs” somewhere else. Refer to your business in one way and stick to it. If you refer to your business in different ways Google can see you as two separate businesses and this will split your authority in two.

You want your business name to maintain as much authority on the internet as possible. Also be sure to display the same address and phone number in all places, as not doing this can split your authority up as well. For example, if in one-business listing your address is listed as 11420 First Street, and another lists it as 11420 1st Street, then Google could potentially see this as two separate addresses.

Google robots are not humans; they can get confused if a business is referenced in different ways. It’s important to maintain your authority for one business and not spread authority across many different variations of your business name.

Mentions

  • Google considers mentions of your business on blogs and articles online

Links

  • Quality of  links pointing to your website from other websites
  • Authority of links pointing to your website from other websites
  • Quantity of links pointing to your website from other websites
  • Relevancy of links: is the link from a similar industry, or is it completely non-relevant?
  • Anchor text in links.

Presence on Google Maps, Apple Maps & others

  • Is the business listing owner-verified?
  • Updates, photos and completeness of map accounts
  • Click-through rate from map accounts to website

Social Ranking Factors

Social Media

Google+

  • The number of +1’s in Google SERPs from Google+ users
  • Velocity of +’s on company’s Google+ page

    • If a business gets all of their +1’s at once, Google may see this as suspicious

  • Authority of Social Media account user recommending your website or articles

Youtube

  • Subscriptions to company YouTube profile

Social media links

  • Shares with a link to your website on public profiles of Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest
  • Click-through rate from Social media posts to your website

Google+ Place Review Ranking Factors

Google+ Reviews

Quantity

  •  How many reviews your car dealership receives — good and bad

Velocity

  • How often  reviews come in. Once again, if the reviews all come in at once Google and other review sites may flag them as suspicious

Rating

  • The overall rating score of your review — from 1 star to 5 stars

Product or service mentions

  • If a reviewer mentions a product in their review, you may start to rank for the mention. For example, if a number of reviews mention they bought a used Toyota at your Honda dealership, you may also start to rank for used Toyotas in smaller markets.

Location mentions in review

  • If a reviewer mentions that they drove from another geographic location to visit your dealership, you may start to rank for that geographic location. For example: “I drove all the way from Jasper to buy a new Honda at this Edson Honda dealership”

Authority

  • How authoritative the reviewer is

3rd party reviews

  • Yelp (Second-most important to Google+)
  • Citysearch
  • DealerRater
  • Etc.

As you can see, it’s not just about keywords on a website anymore! There are many more ranking factors to consider in conjunction with the above. If you have any questions about ranking factors give us a call at 1.877.707.7379 or email us at contact@strathcom.com

 

~ Samantha Goettel

Google+ places for businesses – How to claim your dealership

Local Search is important for car dealerships in Canada because car dealers are local businesses – simple enough!

A huge part of Local SEO is to claim and manage your Google+ place business listing; it’s even more important than your Apple Maps listing. Google Places accounts blend with the authority of your website and often appear above website listings directly in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).

google maps car dealerships

car dealerships on Google maps

 

The first step to ranking in a blended (maps and website listing) result is to claim your account and populate it with your business information.  Simply follow my handy-dandy instructions below:

1. Sign in to your Google Account or create an account for free at www.gmail.com.

2. Go to maps.google.ca, type in your dealership’s name and city and click “search.”

3. Next you will see a map of your location and region with your business listed on the left-hand side of the page.

4. Click on your business name and a location box will appear on the map.

Claiming Google Maps

5. Click on “more info” in your location box.

6. It will bring you to your Google business page. Next click on “Manage this page”Manage your place page

7. Click on “Edit my business information” and then click “continue.”Edit my places information

8. Next, add in your business information. The more the better! The more information you provide Google, the better that Google robots will understand your business and rank you appropriately.

9. Make sure you add as many Business Categories as you can:

  • Car dealership
  • Used car dealership
  • Auto body
  • Service repair
  • Etc.

populate Google places info

10.  Adding pictures will ensure that the right images show up in your Google Place listings. If you don’t upload any pictures, Google may choose a random image from your website. Some dealers have had issues with used cars of different brands showing up as their main image.
upload image to google places

image & map

 

11. You can also add YouTube videos directly to your account.upload youtube video to google places

12. In the Additional Details section, you may add your dealership’s brands: Buick, Chevrolet, Honda, etc.

additional details for Google Places

13. Once you have added all of your information, click Submit.

submit

14. You will be taken to a screen where you can select how you would like to validate your listing.  Sometimes there are three options:

  • By postcard
  • By text message
  • Or by phone validation

In some cases there is only one option. The Phone option is usually the easiest. Once you have selected the option most convenient for you (or the only option available), a Google robot will send you a special code to validate your listing.

  • If you select the phone option, your phone will ring immediately. Be sure to tell your receptionist to record the code the Google robot recites.
  • If you select the text message option, you should receive a validation code on your cell phone.
  •  If you select the “postcard” option, you will receive a card in the mail in a couple weeks with the code. Make sure to tell whoever manages your dealership’s mail that this is NOT spam.

Google Place Postcard

15. Once you have received your Google Places code, validate your listing by entering your Google Places Pin and clicking “Go.”

Enter Google Place code

Congratulations! Your listing should now be validated. Don’t forget to manage the page on a regular basis, add posts, images, and campaign your clients for reviews. Reviews on your Google Place account is a strong ranking factor.

Managing your Google+ Place account on a regular basis can help you show up in a coveted spot in the SERPS.

 

~ Samantha Goettel

What's That Smell? More Diesel Cars Coming to Canada

stinkycar

Diesel cars stink. Or at least they did just a few years ago. I would know: I own an older Volkswagen TDI that could probably double as a portable mosquito fumigator. It makes the average Dodge Cummins smell like chrysanthemums.

While my mechanic tells me I should “learn to love the smell of diesel in the morning,” I remain doubtful. Thankfully, the new generation of diesel vehicles is a different story. It’s not just the advertising: diesels really are cleaner than ever before. Do you think anyone would buy a Mercedes GLK250 BlueTEC diesel if it smelled like a WWII German tank?

A full armada of new diesel models is projected to come to Canada by mid-2014. Audi’s new 3.0L TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) Diesel will be coming to the A8, Q5 SUV, A6 and A7. According to Diesel Technology Forum, customers in the U.S. and Canada may see up to 50 new diesel models by 2017.

Car dealerships are catching on to the diesel trend. New models like the 2014 Chevy Cruze diesel are already on showroom floors, and South of the border it’s being marketed with the best fuel economy of any gasoline or diesel car in America.

Who’s Getting in the Diesel Game?

Volkswagen is going to have some stiff new competition this year, as they are no longer selling the only TDI diesel on the block.

Bosch Diesel Systems Marketing predicts that diesel’s market share will increase by up to 10 per cent by 2015, and there are already new models appearing on car lots across Canada.

  •  A new Eco Diesel V6 is making its debut in the 2014 RAM 1500. It advertises best-in-class torque (it’s a diesel- massive torque is a given) and lower emissions. The real question for truck owners is whether the new Ram 1500’s chassis will be built to match.
  • Chrysler has already tested out the RAM’s new diesel engine in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee where it has proven to be quiet and well-behaved (it’s no louder than the average gasoline V8).
  • Chevrolet is betting on their new Cruze, which is priced to compete with the VW Jetta/Golf and is already for sale in Canadian showrooms. It advertises 90% less Nitrogen Oxide and particulate emissions than previous-generation diesels.
  • Aforementioned diesel Audis will be competing in the diesel luxury car segment including the 2014 A8 TDI, A6 TDI, A7 TDI and Q5 TDI.

Some new diesel models currently available, in development or (possibly) coming to Canada:

  • Chevy Cruze diesel
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel
  • Ram 1500 EcoDiesel V6
  • Cadillac ATS diesel (2.8L Duramax)
  • Porche Cayenne & Cajun Diesel
  • Audi A6, A7, Q5, A3 2.0 TDI FrontTrak
  • BMW 328D, 335d, 7 Series, X5 xDrive 35d
  • Mazda 6 SKYACTIV-D
  • Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle, Passat & Toureg
  • Mercedes GLK 250 BlueTEC, GL320, & others

Let’s Clean Up the Diesel Misconception

dieselsmoke

What’s the diesel craze all about? When most of us think of a diesel, we probably picture a raised pickup truck with massive exhaust stacks spewing a smokescreen of ash and particulates worthy of Mt. St Helens – global warming on wheels.

JeremyClarksonMeme

Many don’t know that diesel cars actually get better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts. Diesel engines also have lower carbon dioxide emissions (although they do release more particulates) and their engines last longer due to the stronger construction needed to handle high compression pressures.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that America could save up to 1.4 million barrels of oil per day – an amount equivalent to the oil we currently import from Saudi Arabia – if one-third of U.S. cars, pickup trucks and SUVs were diesel-powered.” – Diesel Technology Forum.

Better economy, resale value, and longevity all work to justify the premium put on new diesel vehicles (it can be $10,000 or more over gasoline models).

Why so expensive? Much of this cost comes from strict emissions standards set in place by the government. Still, it’s the price you have to pay if you don’t want your tailpipe to smell like rotten eggs.

If the government ever subsidizes new diesel cars the way they have electric and hybrid models, then it will open up the market to a whole new range of car buyers. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to learn to love the smell of diesel in the morning.

Generate More Leads at No Cost to Your Dealership!

Used Cars Canada UCC
I spend a lot of time on the road, in different markets, talking to a variety of car dealers. One question I get no matter where I am is “how can I generate more leads without increasing my marketing budget?”

My answer? Automotive Portals where you can post your inventory without charge. One great one is Used Cars Canada (www.usedcarscanada.com). UCC isn’t just one site – it’s a network of seven sites that receive approximately 750,000 monthly visits. With that many eyeballs on your inventory, you’re going to see more action.

Again, this is free and it requires no additional work from your dealership. There is no limit to the amount of vehicles that can be posted and vehicles are automatically removed when they come off your site.

Want to get started? Sign up your dealership here, or contact Strathcom Media and we can get you set up.

– Duncan Cochrane