How Web Design Impacts Your Web Presence

Automotive Websites | Car Dealer SEO

automotive responsive website

I believe many in the automotive industry realize how important web design is in their ability to reach business goals as well as reach their customers, but do they know why? Web design includes many processes, such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), traffic, branding, and conversion rates. In fact, your company’s web design is a major part of its marketing strategy, whether you know it or not. Web design is so much more than aesthetics or placement of content; it’s a method of bringing awareness to your dealership and to your inventory on the web, as well as converting shoppers into buyers.

There have been many studies conducted on how web design elements and content have an effect on the user’s attitude or trust towards a company, its products, and its website. One such study called “Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites” researched how different design and information content factors influence trust and mistrust of online health sites. Fifteen women faced with a risky health decision were observed while searching the Internet for information and advice over four consecutive weeks. In some sessions their searches were unstructured, while other sessions they were directed to review specific sites, chosen for their trustworthy design elements. Based on verbalizations and group discussions, they recognized that design appeal, credibility of information, and personalization of content projected a sense of trust towards the use of particular websites.

automotive digital marketing

To realize how important the design of your website is, think about how much it would effect your business if your site was poorly designed. Think about this for a minute, your website is the face of your company’s online presence and also a sales and marketing approach for increasing traffic to the site and to your dealership. If a website is designed poorly, i.e. if the site is too busy or complex, if it has too many pop-ups, if it lacks color or a sense of good design, or if it loads extremely slow the user will simply leave your site.

A website can be great for SEO or extremely damaging, depending on how the site was designed. Search engines reward sites that implement responsive web design and it also lowers bounce rates because users have a tendency to stay on your site when they can actually view all of the content. From the structure of your code to what terms are used, web design effects SEO in a major way.

automotive digital marketing

Your web design should be much more than an after thought and it is important for businesses and professionals to understand that the way a website is designed means so much more than how it looks. Web design plays a major role on the web and it is exceptionally important in the automotive industry. When you are trying to increase and retain customers, your SEO, conversion rates, and your bottom line depend on good web design principles.



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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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Matt Cutts on Leave

“I wanted to let folks know that I’m about to take a few months of leave. When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work.” – Matt Cutts

You heard it….or read it. Head of spam team Matt Cutts is going on leave through October! How will this affect your automotive website? It won’t!

“Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score.”

Here is a list of helpful resources that you can turn to for all of your automotive SEO needs!

So have no fear. The spam fighting will continue on and your automotive websites will be safe!



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Responsive VS Adaptive Web Design in the Automotive Industry

Automotive Responsive Website

The automotive industry has seen many technological advances in the past few years. Technologies such as in-car WIFI, rear-mounted radar, night vision detection, and automatic high beam control were all established because someone in the industry understood that these technologies would be beneficial, if not necessary when building a new line of vehicles. Vehicles are built and marketed much differently today than they were a few years ago because the industry has created new and inventive ways to do so. Responsive web design was introduced for many of the same reasons.

responsive automotive websites

At Drive Digital Group, we build responsive automotive websites that convert and increase leads for automotive dealers. Many dealers have seen their leads increase by 150% and have greatly benefited from Drive Digital Group’s approach to acquiring leads and converting them to buyers. We know how important every lead is to a dealership and it’s astonishing to think of how many potential new sales dealerships are losing because they are not using a responsive platform.

A responsive websites content flows with the width of the browser window, whereas an adaptive design breaks and jumps from one fixed resolution size to the next:

automotive responsive website

Responsive web design has become the industry standard for developing websites that look good and function well on many different screen sizes. No one can predict what a user’s screen resolution will be because new devices and new screen resolutions are continuously released. The web development industry has established best practices to ensure the best possible website user experience on all screen sizes, and they can be categorized as either responsive or adaptive layouts. Here at Drive Digital Group, we develop responsive websites that convert more traffic than other template sites from our competitors because a template site or a site that uses both a desktop and mobile version of their site have to maintain two different websites and two different sets of inventory.

automotive responsive website

The advantages of implementing a responsive design are huge:

  • Consistency throughout the different platforms, creating easier navigation and a better user experience
  • Dramatic reduction in development time and costs by only having to create and maintain one URL as opposed to several
  • Improved SEO by streamlining all pageviews through one URL
  • More effective social sharing

Adaptive layouts are built to look good on a minimum number of set screen resolutions and are usually comprised of desktop, tablet, and smartphone. What if a user’s device resolution falls in between one of these devices? The best part about responsive design is that your website looks good on any device and the user is able to view the same content and have the same experience on a small screen as they would on a larger screen. Adaptive web design is a design approach of the past and no longer works effectively in today’s multi device and multi-platform environment. Responsive design is the best approach to converting leads and providing the best user experience for your customers.



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Disavow Backlinks

Automotive Website Disavow Campaigns

BACKLINKS, BACKLINKS, BACKLINKS! Oh the days of throwing tons of free and paid backlinks towards your automotive website by any means necessary. This was once an effective automotive SEO strategy when trying to improve your page rank. Not to say that backlinks are now a bad thing….but the quality of the backlink is much more important than the quantity of backlinks you have pointing at your automotive website.

Google works hard to make sure that your site is not affected by third party vendors trying to harm your site, but you sure do have some work to do if you participated in any low quality link building either currently or back in the day.

So what do you do?

  • Check out all of the links currently pointing to your site. Check them using whatever method you are comfortable with. (Ahref, Google Webmaster,  Bright Local, ect. )
  • Categorize your linked domains. (High quality, relevant links pointing to your site & low quality links)
  • Start a campaign contacting the webmasters of the sites these low quality backlinks live on and ask them to TAKE THEM OFF!!!
  • If they don’t respond or refuse, turn to Google Disavow

As an automotive SEO myself, I find it very difficult contacting web developers of low quality sites and asking them to trash the links pointing to my dealers sites. If I don’t hear back from them within two weeks, they are added to my disavow .txt doc.

How do you set up a disavow campaign?

You could contact us and have us do it for you…..or follow the steps below.

  1. Make sure you website is claimed in webmaster tools
  2. Choose the site you want to set up a disavow campaign
  3. Under the “search traffic” section of your dashboard, choose “links to your site”
  4. Download the table of domains pointing to your website as a .CSV file or Google Doc
  5. Access your links. I personally delete all of the domains the I LIKE pointing to my websites instead of creating a whole new doc and moving every bad backlink over to it.
  6. Save the file as a .txt file.
  7. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main
  8. Choose the site in which you want to set up a disavow campaign
  9. Follow the path of uploading your doc & you are done!

For more in depth instructions, contact us today!

Make sure you are tracking the number of linked domains in webmaster tools to make sure its actually working. Good luck!



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Why is duplicate content such a bad thing?

Automotive Websites & SEO

My team and I run scans and evaluations on our sites as well potential customers often looking for duplicate content. Many times we find that most automotive websites have the most duplicate content. Why is that? Well, many of the platforms that these automotive websites are built on automatically fill in title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, etc. They don’t put in the manpower to go through with a strategy and implement a process.

We find the most duplicate meta data when scanning through competitors inventory. We manage sites that have an inventory of 50 cars on lot, to up to 2,000 cars on lot. Keep in mind that each vehicle has a dedicated landing page. Imaging all of these pages having the same information in all the important places that search engines crawl. Most competitors do not dynamically change their automotive inventory data like we do. So the question is:

Why is duplicate content such a bad thing?

  • It’s SPAMMY! Google will only read your multiple duplicate data as spammy, keyword stuffed material.
  • New content might not get crawled! Do you want to read the same thing over and over? NO. And neither do search engine. Search engines may decide to stop crawling your automotive website once you have give 500 inventory pages of the same data.
  • Duplicate content can & will hurt your website total ranking.
  • Google can take your website completely out of their search engine results if they feel you are being manipulative.
There are some cases where duplicate content is a necessity. Disclaimers, policies, ect. Here is a segment from Matt Cutts addressing those situations.



Search engine optimization is a hands on process. SEO takes time and man hours. Make sure that you’re automotive SEO is being handled properly and that there is no duplicate content on your website.

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