How detrimental in the online space is it to have two dealership websites? The forced one from the manufacturer and then your chosen one as the primary source of traffic? What are the pitfalls in switching back from having two sites, to only having the OEM-required one? Do you lose the time and energy, or is all your SEO value wasted too?
Thanks so much for a great question, Jenna. Interestingly enough, I was just in Seattle meeting with ADP/Cobalt (or the artist formerly known as…) and this discussion came up. You ask some pointed questions about the SEO involvement so I reached out to DealerKnows Partner, Eric Miltsch of Command Z Automotive Marketing. He provided some great insight, and then I’ll wrap up with a few words of my own.
Eric Miltsch’s response ~
Excellent question – one that I hear at least once a week.
To start, there are in fact different scenarios that could be detrimental to your online space by having two dealer websites. Typically this is the result of the situation you described: An OEM mandate with one platform while the dealership has another site with a different website provider. Unfortunately, most dealerships in this situation tend to focus their attention on their primary site while ignoring the OEM site.
Here’s what I recommend if you find yourself in this scenario. And yes, this will require some effort, but the proactive position you’re taking could prevent even more headaches and additional work down the road. If you decide to switch platforms and rely on the OEM site, you’ll be slightly ahead of the game and prepared for any type of changes that come your way.
Do a site audit of your OEM site. This will help you organize the basic items and help improve the performance. Your goal is to make sure all of the pages have unique page elements such as the page titles, descriptions. This will also help you find any broken links, URL issues, duplicate content, etc. Plenty of tools available; I recommend the ScreamingFrog site audit tool.
The second site could also be hurting your local search efforts if there are inconsistent, inaccurate or duplicate local directory citations. Is your dealership name, address and phone number information consistent within these sites and the respective directories they may be linked to? I also recommend running a local citation audit using the Moz Local tool to see which websites are in fact linked to the local directories. Knowing this data will help you improve your local search performance regardless of which site is associated with these records.
Lastly, I would invest the time into creating custom, unique content for each website to give them a better chance of getting the search engine’s attention. Search engines have one goal in mind: To find healthy, organized websites with unique content that can actually help users.
Doing basic sites audits, cleaning up the necessary items, fixing your local citations and creating new content for your sites will allow you to be prepared for any situation that may come your way – while helping your current digital footprint rather than creating a detrimental situation.
Best of luck!
Joe Webb ~
As you can see, Jenna, Eric answered it much more intelligently than I could. I can see both sides to your situation. If you have multiple websites, wouldn’t two take up more space on Google Page One than just one website alone? That is a typical argument for people managing two sites. Many in our industry seem to think a third-party website provider simply has more functionality and better designs than the OEM-mandated site providers. I find that not to be the case.
Having spent time at Cobalt recently, and having intimate knowledge of the other main OEM-approved sites, I find them all to be extremely competitive in functionality with the other providers. What seems to be holding the OEM-approved sites (and their respective dealer clients) back isn’t an issue regarding functionality or design, but rather those mandates from the manufacturers that stifle the creativity of said providers. In other words, these OEM-endorsed providers are just as competitive as their “glitzier” counterparts, but also must restrict themselves to keep in line with the manufacturer’s wishes. It takes the onus of the dealership’s Internet Director to explore the full capabilities of their website provider.
Simply put, I believe most dealers can thrive with only one website, but those truly looking for a specific look, and want to use each site for different SEO/traffic/campaign purposes, can do so. Your first goal is to truly enhance and optimize your OEM-required site with the end goal for it to be your primary.
Joe Webb and Eric Miltsch partner together regularly to offer fully-realized digital marketing consulting for any dealer interested in knowing more. Contact Joe Webb at 847-456-5130.