Author Archive

Chris Burns

I am the owner and Chief Operations Officer of Drive Digital Group. My role is to oversee the operations of the company across all products & Services.

Flashy SEO Stumblin’ Blocks

Automotive Search Engine Optimization

Here goes a rant that is directed to both the consumers of SEO services and the providers of SEO services. To most in the industry this may be a “duh” kind of read. Trust me, it’s not as “duh” as you think. If we are honest with each other for a second, you could probably relate to a portion of this article. I hope this is an eye opener to someone. Lets start with the consumer.

To the consumers of SEO services

Close your eyes and think about the initial meeting you and your SEO provider had. Back when they first grabbed your attention by promising first page organic placement, more backlinks than the internet could handle, a 9% bounce rate, and organic traffic out the wazoo (did I just use that word). In fact, they promised so much organic traffic that it could potentially replace you pay per click traffic. Music to your ears! More money in the bank!

Remember when they called you back the next week with the game plan they put together to deliver on those promises? They explained their on-site process and how important it was to get the initial optimization done before they moved off site. And then two weeks later they called to fill you in on all of the on-site optimization they did. Remember? Two weeks later they sent you a spreadsheet of those thousands of backlinks they built, right? I DOUBT IT!

I highly doubt the provider spent time to educate you. I also doubt that you asked the appropriate questions. We are being transparent here…don’t forget that. As an SEO myself I understand why providers don’t take time to educate and explain why and what they are doing to get you better results. It’s a safety net. If their strategy fails, they can come up with all kinds of reasoning why. And trust me…you won’t have ANY idea what they are talking about. Algorithm changes. (Shall I say more lol) Sure, what they are saying may be valid but how do you know? Lets walk through the initial conversation you first had with your provider.

Provider: “I promise first page organic placement”

Consumer response should be: What will you be doing to get me on the first page exactly?

Provider: “more backlinks than the internet could handle”

Consumer response should be: What type of backlinks will you be pointing at my website? Boat loads of low quality links or quality authoritative links?

Provider: “We will do all of your on-site optimization”

Consumer response should be: What exactly does that mean? What will you be “optimizing”? Just my home page?

I am not saying you should hound your provider or develop an annoying or pressured relationship upfront. I’m saying you should be educated. You should understand what you are receiving. This will cut back on SO MANY problems in the future. When you feel like your provider is not executing certain task you can turn back to your initial conversation. Be honest with me and yourself for a second. Remember that time a competitor came into your office and blew your socks off saying your current provider wasn’t doing this and that and blah blah blah? You immediately called your provider and blew his brains out. You cancelled your services with them and went with this new company. 5 months later your traffic dropped, your rankings dropped, and you were furious. Come on…….

If you were educated, you would have known that your provider was in fact, taking care of you. Your initial conversation with a provider is crucial. You are at the development stage of a long, successful relationship. (hopefully) There should be a level of trust between you and your provider. This will make a provider want to work 10 times as hard for YOU.

To the provider of SEO services

STOP TRYING TO KNOCK THE SOCKS OFF OF YOUR CLIENTS BY TELLING THEM THINGS YOU KNOW YOU WILL NEVER DO! Develop an effective strategy and educate the provider. Instead of getting ticked off that they are nagging you about this and that, educate them. And if you don’t do your job, someone like me is going to come by and effectively rip your half baked strategy to shreds and educate the consumer myself. (Just a heads up)

I will be posting many more articles like this one. My goal is to help consumers and providers develop a healthy working relationship. There is so much turnover in the automotive industry when it comes to web providers. Consumers don’t trust their providers so they cut them off and/or providers don’t deliver on their word and the consumer has no idea.

Share this article with those in the industry whom you think could use it! If you’re interested in Automotive SEO or would like more information on digital marketing services, contact us today!



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The New Importance of Mobile Responsive Design

Automotive Responsive Website

Recently Google released a tag on their mobile search results pages that identifies mobile sites that are NOT mobile friendly. Last week Google has taken the next step and begun assigning mobile friendly tags to search results that pass Google’s mobile friendly testing criteria. We are going to walk you through exactly what this new change means for your dealership and how to fully prepare to take full advantage of these new features! The data has been showing for years that mobile would soon surpass desktop searches. Our data shows that that time is already here! Mobile searches account for nearly 60% of the traffic we see our on automotive websites. Search Engines must now pivot to make mobile readiness and usability a much larger part of their entire search platform to compensate for this new reality. automotive responsive website For more background we welcome you to read Google’s blog post about helping users find mobile friendly web pages. Once you read this article and see that Google is adding mobile identifiers to their ranking algorithm as well as tagging results on search results pages with identifying tags, you will want to make sure you look at your car dealership website in great detail to ensure that you are meeting the new mobile standards. automotive responsive website

Is Your Website Mobile Ready To The New Standards?

The first thing you want to do is test your website in Google’s new handy mobile friendly testing tool. This tool will help you see how Google views your website’s mobile readiness and even give you some tips on issues the site may have for mobile viewers. Here are some of the most commonly found problems with mobile design:
  • Not responsive or Adaptive. If you are still using a separate mobile website, you may find that Google will identify your mobile version as acceptable, but not your desktop version. This is the problem with having a separate website and also is why Google penalizes sites that used this outdated method of redirecting users to a completely different version of your website. STOP using a separate mobile site immediately and convert to an automotive mobile responsive design or at minimum an adaptive design.
  • Using technology that is not friendly on mobile devices such as Flash.
  • Putting links/buttons so close together on your mobile design that it would be difficult for users to easily click links.
  • Sizing the content in such a way so that users don’t have to scroll horizontally or vertically to view all the content.
  • Making sure the text size is large enough to read on a mobile device without using zoom.
Once we have verified that these basics are covered, we like to take a look at the Google webmaster mobile usability report on your website. This will help us catch any other potential problems that may arise such as scripts that are not working on mobile or taking too long to load.

What Are The Benefits Of An Outstanding Mobile Design?

automotive digital marketingSo many people still don’t understand the benefits of having a state of the art mobile design that is meeting the latest guidelines from Google and other search engines. Lets take a look at why it’s so important to ensure your ready to handle mobile buyers on your dealer website. 1. A mobile friendly tag will give you a higher click through percentage from organic searches. Free traffic anyone? Just get yourself a new mobile friendly tag and you will get it! 2. Mobile friendly tag gives your website a boost in organic search. Mobile usability is a ranking algorithm so you had better be taking full advantage of it! 3. Lower bounce rate, more page views per visit, and higher time on site. If more than half of your traffic is mobile, then you need to make sure you display your vehicles and content in a way that they can easily navigate on their mobile device. This will improve your site analytics which is another ranking factor that Google looks at in their algorithm. 4. Better conversions. With a proper mobile design, you will be able to turn more of your visitors into leads through better mobile conversions like click to call and quick forms. 5. You’re just cooler than your competitors. Who doesn’t want to be cool?

How Confident Are You That Your Dealership Is Ready For The Mobile Revolution?

Drive Digital Group has been using responsive mobile design for over a year and  half now. One of the benefits of having such a talented staff, is that we are always staying ahead of the curve on digital issues such as these. Combine your automotive mobile responsive website with fully marked up semantic tags using the schema.org initiative and you will be one of the few dealers from around the world that are ahead of the curve with us. We welcome the opportunity to offer your dealership a free full digital analysis of your website and your digital strategy. Lets one of our experts give you a playbook for digital success free of charge. We just need 15 to 20 minutes of your time to walk you through all of the holes in your current digital strategy. You will walk away with a clear path to how to bring your dealership into the latest digital strategies for 2015 and beyond!

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Drive Digital Group Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Here is our ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Make sure to spread the word and donate! We are an automotive digital advertising agency that believes in spreading the cause! Click here to donate!



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Semantic Web And The Automotive Industry

Automotive Websites

In this blog post I hope to show you the bigger picture of a semantically marked up web looks like and more importantly to you, why you should already be taking full advantage of it today for your own automotive website. The Semantic Web, or Web 3.0 is considered to be the next phase of internet and it’s already happening all around us.

We hope to explain to you why the structured web is not a fad or a new buzz-word, but part of a larger movement that is the foundation for linking social signals, web development, search engine optimization, online reputation, paid search, and improved search engine usefulness in general.

What Is Structured Data?

automotive websites

In the past search engines have done their best to return results to users that have keywords matching the words they use to search. Yes it’s more complicated than that, but at it’s core this was the goal of search engines. They wanted to try to match words typed into their search engine with web pages that have similar words. The order of the results was basically the most authoritative site that had the words matching the words being searched.

Search engines have come a long way and are getting more aggressive than ever in their quest to return the best results based on what they think the meaning behind the search words really is (The intent of the search). Search engines want to try to comprehend the context and meaning of the keywords entered into their search engine and now they want to provide results that best match the answer to the question (sometimes answering the question right in the search results in addition to providing linked pages in the search results) and keywords entered into their search bars.

The schema.org project was created in 2011 to expand upon the RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes) work begun by W3c Semantic Web Activity (World Wide Web Consortium). On-page markup enables search engines to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results in order to make it easier for users to find relevant information on the web. Markup can also enable new tools and applications that make use of the structure. A properly marked up website utilizing a microformat from schema.org will allow machines to easily read and relate data. This allows not only search engine spiders but also assisted machine readers for visually impaired individuals to better navigate and understand the content on the website.

By utilizing structured markup on your website you can help the search engines to better understand the content of your website in much greater detail than ever before. A properly marked up website will give search engines all of the information they need to be confident in knowing if your pages will answer those questions that people are entering into their search engines. This confidence is all part of the authority you want to build on your website by hitting all the marks in the complicated search engine algorithm.

It’s important to point out that you can mark up much more than just text on your website. Videos, PDF documents and more can be marked up with structured data too!

What does a semantic web mean for the future?

automotive digital marketing

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has worked along with many others in the Internet community for more than a decade to achieve his next big dream: the semantic web.

Their vision of the future of the internet is a web of related data that is machine consumable because of a unified structure which will bring in a new era of data usability. Web 1.0 and 2.0 phases were built around humans consuming information through websites. Web 3.0 will be about letting machines consume the data in a way that they can understand. This will allow machines to do all of the heavy lifting for humans when it comes to information. A human can ask the internet through a search engine portal a question and fully expect to get a highly relevant answer to any question form an authoritative source. In many cases the machines will be able to aggregate data and provide simplified recaps from a variety of sources.

It is not hard to imagine your Web-enabled microwave oven consulting the frozen-food manufacturer’s Web site for optimal cooking parameters. and automatically altering the proper time and power setting to microwave a food you give it, this is the power of the semantic web!

How about a doctor able to gather the latest treatments for a rare disease based on accredited publications from around the world in an instant? In today’s archaic world the doctor must attend seminars and subscribe to research publications, making it virtually impossible for any human to retain real time data about every disease and treatment. This is just one example of the incredible usefulness and power of the future of a semantic web and machines capable of utilizing it for the betterment of humankind.

Why Use Semantic Markup For Automotive Websites?

My interest in the semantic web movement has been growing for many years. My position as the COO of Drive Digital Group allows me to implement it in an industry that is perfectly suited to structured data! Vehicles are a product like any other. E Commerce applications for structured data have been aggressively implemented in a variety of other industry already with major players such as:

  • New York Times
  • Facebook (The Open Graph protocol)
  • Google (The Knowledge Graph)
  • IBM
  • BBC (World Cup 2010)
  • Boeing (Testimonials)
  • O’Reilly (Semantic SEO)
  • Rotten Tomatoes
  • Monster.com
  • Adobe
  • eBay

I have found that many automotive website providers have implemented semantic web markup in only the most rudimentary of ways. Typically we will see a dealer’s website address, phone number and sometimes a vehicle price being marked up. This is an incredibly feeble attempt to embrace structured data in the automotive industry!

There are a variety of markup languages being utilized depending on the data and usage of that data. Open Graph technology is great for websites that want to use social media as the primary marketing method of sharing their website data. Microformats like RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD are much better suited to product data such as manufacturer, year, make model, vehicle options, vehicle features, color, VIN number, mileage, sales price and so on.

If you want to ensure that your business is doing everything possible to take advantage of this growing technology, you need to make sure that you are partnering with a company that fully understand and supports it. Yes structured data does play a role in both how you rank and how your data that you rank for is displayed in the search results pages. This WILL have an effect on your bottom line so there is no reason to not take full advantage of a technology that will have increasingly greater importance now and into the future.

Lets be honest with each other, the subject matter we just covered in this blog post is far more advanced and nuanced than your typical GM, GSM, Owner, Internet Director, etc. is used to having about their digital strategy. My first recommendation to people when we talk about our implementation of semantic web is cover your basics first. You need to have a strong foundation to build upon if you really want to get serious about more advanced digital strategies. A well coded fully responsive website platform that can be fully marked up with structured data for semantic SEO is a great place to begin.

Once your foundation is solid you can focus on social media signals, social media engagement, your online reputation and what your local citation situation looks like. Each of these things plays a part in your overall search engine reputation which all ties back to your digital storefront… your dealership website. These are not separate things which can be treated independently any longer. The dealership of the future needs to have a clear roadmap for 2015 and beyond which will have a robust and unified digital marketing strategy in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

If you would like my team to provide you with a free digital analysis that will show you exactly how you are performing well or need improvement in every area of your digital strategy, simply request a free evaluation and we will be more than happy to present it to you with no obligation.



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Why should you have a Facebook for your dealership?

Automotive Social Media | Facebook Paid Campaigns

Online research and Internet purchases are becoming more commonplace as the days go on. The world of online marketing is only growing stronger and more important to automotive dealerships that are looking to expand their business. One of the best ways to get your name out into your community is through social media platforms, but with so many to choose from it can be overwhelming to even begin. When getting started, Facebook is a great outlet for the automotive industry and we believe creating and engaging will help to grow your auto business!

When most businesses begin to think about starting an online automotive social media presence, Facebook is their top priority, and we agree! Facebook offers dealerships a huge audience, and with 71% of online adults using their Facebook accounts, you have access to your community almost as a whole, all from one computer. Facebook has a unique ‘friends & family’ feel to it, that allows you to get to know your customers, to share with them, and for them to feel comfortable interacting with you through comments, messages, and reviews.

Facebook also offers direct advertising, in which your creative ads, specials, contests, and campaigns can be targeted to specific audiences. Gone are the days of paid advertising that use your budget to advertise to the entire world. Now, Facebook allows you to choose who you want to see your ads. You can get as specific as “Adults 18+” in “Specific City, State.” Your advertising budget just got a whole lot more valuable when you know that you are accessing the people that live and work down the street from your dealership!

Facebook is the new yellow pages when it comes to automotive social media marketing for your automotive dealership! Let us help you with your campaign today.



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activEngage Ping Pong Challenge

For those of you that don’t know activEngage is the industry leader in automotive live chat solutions.

Since our offices are only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Maitland, Florida based offices of activEngage, we like to stop by and visit with the owners to share notes on the industry and stay up to date with their latest and greatest. We are big fans of their company and often refer them as a chat vendor to our current automotive website design customers looking for a state of the art managed chat solution.

On one of our previous visits to their offices we discovered that they have a great gaming area for their staff which includes a ping pong table. One of the items on our agenda for our visit this week was for myself and our Director of Product Development, Phil Anderson, to challenge the best activEngage had to offer in a ping pong challenge!

Apparently we had great timing as they had recently finished a ping pong tournament and they had crowned the “ping pong wizard”, Nate Smith (Inside Account Executive), as their champion. Since Phil and I are the resident ping pong champions here at Drive Digital Group, we couldn’t resist a friendly test of our table tennis might against the best activeEngage had to offer.

I have to say that Nate put up a great fight, but in the end both Phil and myself defeated him in Mortal (ping pong) Kombat! This victory has led us to believe that there is a distinct possibility that there is no other automotive company that can defeat our guys in a heads up Ping Pong Challenge.

We know there are many Florida based automotive companies that might think they have what it takes to give us a run for their money and I say to those companies that this is an open challenge. We hereby proclaim ourselves the Southeastern Automotive Ping Pong Champions! We invite anyone to openly challenge us at any time to see if they have what it takes to claim the title for themselves. Right down the road from us is Dealers United, we don’t know if they have any Ping Pong players on staff, but if they do we openly challenge them to a tournament at the time and place of their choosing!

It’s good to be the Kings!



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