Goal setting season is upon us. Resolutions are looming and the success of your business next year can depend largely on how you wrap up the next few months. It’s a heavy task with all the festivities and subsequent lack of focus, but if you prioritize a few key things, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Plan your gifts and donations
‘Tis the season! Make your own nice list and include the people who have been important to your business. Consider clients, vendors, and co-workers and plan to give a token of your appreciation for their help and loyalty this year. It’s also a wonderful time to choose a local charity and make a company donation. It’s a great thing to do for obvious reasons, but it also doesn’t hurt to get a little brand recognition and a tax reduction!
Audit your tech tools
Technology is mission critical to the success of your business. Do you have everything you need to hit the ground running in 2019? Perhaps there was something you could have benefited from this year? Make sure you’re using vendors that are true business partners. Make sure they’re on the leading edge of innovation, putting you ahead of the competition and helping you deliver unprecedented service to your clients.
Evaluate your digital persona
As an agent, you yourself are a brand. Make sure your personal brand is reflecting your values and the type of service you can offer prospective clients. Now is a great time to spruce up your social media profiles, update your head shot, and skim through all the content to make sure everything is in line with your brand goals.
Not sure what channels are best? Check out our tips in this video:
Prioritize your education
Did you put a priority on professional development this year? If so, great! Keep doing what worked and re-evaluate things that weren’t that beneficial. If not, make that a focus for 2019. It’s amazing what inspiration the right conference or coach can bring to your business. Research some opportunities that would be a great fit for your 2019 goals, and make some plans!
Assess your 2018 business plan
Too many people create their goals for the new year without taking a long hard look at the past year. Review your critical metrics from 2018. Regardless of if you hit your goals in certain areas or not, what do the numbers say about your performance and priorities? Use this information as a starting point for sales forecasting and building a very realistic and actionable plan for next year.
Build that 2019 business plan
Now that you have a real understanding of last year’s performance, it’s time to put a plan together. Make sure you cover all aspects of your business: marketing campaigns, potential hires, specific sales metrics, technology investments and events. Associate SMART goals with each aspect and build out timelines to keep yourself accountable.
Enjoy your holiday time
The next two months provide built-in time to celebrate with those you love. Take advantage! Focus on your to-dos before the whirlwind begins and soak in your quality time with family and friends. Disconnect from your business a bit, enjoy yourself, and mentally prepare yourself to hit the ground running in January.
Tennis star Serena Williams could see a boon from the initial public offering of the parent company of SurveyMonkey.
Williams serves as a director of the company and owns 210,000 options and another 35,000 shares.
Williams’ options come with a very standard caveat: Each one will cost her $16.03 to buy — so unless SurveyMonkey really explodes out of the gate after its IPO, her potential profit will likely pale in comparison to her winnings from tennis.
Still, depending how things go, the SurveyMonkey IPO could mean a tidy payday for Williams.
Williams is among those who could see a windfall from the IPO of SVMK, the parent company of SurveyMonkey. The tennis star serves as a director of the company and holds some 210,000 options and another 35,000 restricted shares in the company. See the rest of the story at Business Insider
This week, I feel lucky enough to bring you not one, not two, but three masters of inspiration into the hot seat. Join me in this LIVE conversation from the WeWork Creator Awards where I was joined on stage by serial entrepreneur and investor Kevin Rose, interior designer Kelly Wearstler, and star of Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye’ & fashion designer Tan France. All three of our panelists are built a life doing the things that they love, but like all of us, there were a lot of twists and turns. In this episode, they share stories of inspiration, overcoming challenges, as well as some super solid business advice. In this episode: Next time the fear of failure strikes you, remember this. Only 1 out of every 12 investments in venture capital are successful. Give yourself the grace to fail 92% of the time. You’ve got to surround yourself with the best people you can. Whether you’re mastering your craft, building a team, or looking for your first clients, you’d be a fool to discredit those closest to you. Passion is what made long, hard days worth it. We talk about how to use passion to overcome fear, failure, and getting stuck. […]
In April 2017, the authors of Legacy In The Making visited me at Patagonia’s headquarters, in Ventura, California, to talk about the legacy I’m building as the founder of Patagonia. We talked about a lot of things, some of which I’d never spoken about before. Afterward, when they asked me if I’d share some of those insights and stories in the foreword to their book and I made it clear: I never wanted to be a conventional businessman. I liked climbing rocks, not corporate ladders.
“Exactly,” they responded. “That’s why we asked you.”
It’s true. I never set out to be a businessman. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about business with Chouinard Equipment and Patagonia, the two outdoor outfitters I founded. But I’m a creature of the 1960s. I never liked authority. I was a rock climber. Back when I started climbing at the age of 19, the gear was poor quality. The pitons—the metal spikes you drive into cracks—were made of soft iron and were designed to be used once and left in place. The attitude back then was about dominating the mountains, conquering them and leaving all your gear behind to make it easier for the next party. I didn’t share that attitude. I had a different ambition.
I wanted to climb without leaving a trace so that the next party and every party after that could experience the climb as I had—in its natural state. To do that, I needed a new kind of piton that you could remove and reuse over and over as you ascended. Since nothing like that existed at the time, I decided to design it myself. I bought an old coal-fired forge from a junkyard, built a small shop in my parents’ backyard, taught myself how to blacksmith, and began making my own high-quality reusable pitons. They were the first of their kind, designed for a new style of climbing. I called my fledgling company Chouinard Equipment.
Initially, I was just a craftsman making climbing gear for myself and my friends. But I happened to be pretty good at it, and pretty soon I was selling gear to friends of friends out of the back of my car (whenever I wasn’t surfing or climbing, that is). That evolved into making better crampons—the metal spikes on climbing boots—and better ice axes. With climbing, the better the tool, the better your chance of coming home in one piece. The quality of the materials and design—how the tool actually functioned in the field—was everything. People noticed, and by 1970 Chouinard Equipment had become the largest supplier of climbing equipment in the United States.
At that time, we were on the cutting edge of climbing. Some of the climbs we were doing in Yosemite National Park were harder than any rock climbs ever done in the world. Being on the cutting edge meant that we were not following the market. We weren’t waiting for customers to tell us what to make. For example, when I started coming out with new tools for ice climbing, people had no idea how to use them, and so I began writing a book about it. The Austrians and Germans had different techniques than the French and the Scottish. I ran around the world and studied all the different techniques so that I could bring everything together in one unified method.
In 1970, on my way home from climbing in Scotland, I bought a rugby shirt—a blue one with yellow and red stripes. Functionally, I thought it would be a great climbing shirt. It had a tough collar so that the gear slings wouldn’t cut your neck and rubber buttons that wouldn’t rip off. At that time, American sportswear was basically gray sweatpants and sweatshirts. That was it. There was no colored sportswear for men. Yet all of a sudden, here I was, wearing this really colorful shirt, and people were saying, “Wow, where’d you get that?” That was when we decided to start selling our own.
Our colors got pretty outrageous, but they also served a function. When you spend days suspended on a “big wall” climb or weeks stormbound in a tent, it’s tough on your psyche. You want colorful clothes just for your own mental health.
We sold a lot of those rugby shirts. By 1973, we had launched a new brand, Patagonia, to focus on our growing clothing business. Unlike Chouinard Equipment (which we eventually sold to a group of employees who launched a brand called Black Diamond), we knew nothing about the established clothing industry when we started Patagonia. Zero. Conventional fashion designers take a mannequin, wrap cloth around it, pin it here and there, and create a dress. But our background was in designing lifesaving climbing gear, not fashion, and so we looked at clothes as tools.
Before we designed any new piece of clothing—whether it was an alpine jacket, a pair of socks, or a bikini—we always started by asking about function. What problem were we trying to solve? How would the product be used, not just worn? Which features would it need, and which would it not need? It’s like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said: “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” In retrospect, I think that is our biggest contribution to the clothing business: treating clothes as tools and applying the principles of industrial design.
When you approach products as tools that serve a function, it forces you to pare things down to their essence. Just look around. Complexity is easy. The world is full of complex, disposable junk. Simplifying things, though—designing quality tools that last—now, that’s hard.
More than 60 years after I forged that first removable piton, we still approach everything we make just as I did in the beginning— as a simple, functional tool. The best tool for whatever your ambition is. As my ambition was to make better gear for the things I loved to do, my companies were the tools I used to achieve that ambition. But as your ambitions evolve, as mine would before long, so must your tools.
In the early years, I ran the business like every other company. Just running it for the sake of getting larger and larger, doing everything that normal companies do. By the 1980s, we were taking off: opening new dealers, developing our own retail stores, and growing about 50 percent a year. You can’t grow like that for very long before you end up in financial trouble. It’s just impossible.
In 1990, the American economy went into recession. After years of growing just for the sake of growing, our sales suddenly hit a wall. The banks got into financial trouble, and so did we. We couldn’t borrow enough money to cover inventory, and we nearly lost the business. For the first time in our history, we had to lay people off—20 percent of our entire staff. Those people were like family, and the impact on our brand culture was a wake-up call. After we had been preoccupied with growth for years, our brand was adrift. Not only did we have to reassess our growth plans, we had to reassess who we were and who we wanted to be.
That was when I took our key managers—about 10 or 12 of us—and we all went down to Argentina, to the real Patagonia. We hiked around, sat down, and asked ourselves why we were in business and what we expected to get out of this. We asked each person why he or she was working for us. Though my ambition had always been to build the best tools, it was during this trip that we discussed our values:
• Make the highest-quality products.
• Consider the environmental impact of everything we do.
• Engage and support our communities.
• Contribute a portion of our sales to philanthropy.
No one said a word about profit.
Once we had collected everyone’s thoughts, we established our brand values by consensus. I’ve always believed in making decisions by consensus as opposed to compromise. Compromise is what the government does. Compromise never solves a problem. Compromise leaves both sides feeling cheated. Consensus is how Native American tribes historically made decisions, and it was the chief ’s job to build consensus. That’s been my role: to set the general direction we’re going in and to get our employees to buy in.
After we got back from our trip to Patagonia, I started leading weeklong seminars to teach our employees about the values that would guide our brand culture moving forward. I wanted everyone to be empowered to make day-to-day decisions that were based on those values rather than always waiting for instructions from the boss. Years later, in 2005, I published everything—my ambition, our history, our growth crisis, our values—in Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. Like those recyclable pitons, I didn’t publish the book to get rich. I did it because as a reluctant businessman, I had learned an important lesson about business: Regardless of what you sell, your business itself—including your culture and your values—is your product. If we could inspire more values-based businesses, our society and environment would be a lot better off.
Let My People Go Surfing is still selling all over the world. They teach it in high schools, and it’s been printed in 9 or 10 languages—all because people see the Patagonia brand as a different model. We’re not alone in our beliefs. Brands with long-term ambitions and strong values-driven cultures are increasingly demonstrating that profits and purpose aren’t mutually exclusive.
Lasting Brands Move People, Not Just Goods
I’ve always been an advocate for social and environmental causes, but I don’t like being on the front lines. I get too frustrated. Instead, I’ve learned how to use business to effect change. We follow our beliefs, our customers follow us, and positive change tends to follow that. People who believe in what we’re doing gravitate to our message. They become our advocates. That’s why our marketing philosophy is so simple: We tell people who we are and what we do. That’s it. Fiction is so much more difficult to write than nonfiction.
For us, marketing isn’t about moving goods. It’s about moving people. For example, in 2011 we ran a print ad on Black Friday that said, “Don’t buy this jacket.” We sold so many of those jackets! That wasn’t the intent. The intent was to encourage people to reflect on what they buy and to buy only what they need. The best thing you can do for the environment as far as clothing goes is to buy the very best quality, use it as long as possible, and keep it out of the landfill. Repair it. Reuse it. Recycle it.
That Black Friday campaign forced us to make a pact with our customers: If you buy one of our jackets, we’ll repair it forever. If you outgrow it or stop using it, we’ll help you sell it to somebody else. Eventually we’ll take it back and melt it down into more jackets. It forced us to build the largest garment repair facility in North America. In fact, we have a truck that goes around to colleges and teaches kids how to sew buttons on. We’ll repair any of their clothes, not just ours. We practice business this way because our customers are our loyal sales force, and they pay far more attention to good deeds than to lofty words.
For our 2016 Black Friday campaign, we decided to give all the revenue away to environmental causes. Not just the profits. All of our revenue that day. As a result, our sales quadrupled, from $2.5 million the previous year to over $10 million for Black Friday 2016. We gave away all $10 million—in addition to the $9 million contribution we made that same year in line with our annual commitment to contribute 1 percent of our sales to charity. Philanthropic campaigns like this don’t cut into our sales. In fact, 60 percent of our customers from these campaigns are new. Just think about how much it costs most companies to get new customers. The social media aspect of this campaign cost us nothing. We let the word out, and in turn, our customers helped spread the word for us.
At the end of the year, we measure success by how much good we’ve done and what impact we’re having on society, not by profit. Honestly, if you ask me how much money we’ve made in the last year, I would have to look it up. I know that we are extremely profitable. I also believe in karma. Karma and profits coexist here because every time we’ve made a decision in service of doing good, our customers have noticed. And when our customers get behind us, more good things follow.
If you look around and see who’s working here, we all have degrees in subjects such as anthropology, zoology, and English. Only a few of us actually have degrees in business. We’re all learning how to run a business by asking lots of questions and approaching things as beginners. We’re successful because we have the confidence to write our own rules rather than master someone else’s.
Maybe that’s why we’re comfortable being a guinea pig and trying new things. We’re making healthy food and producing films about society’s impact on the natural world. We’re even thinking about starting an immersive nature school for kids. As unconventional as these programs may sound, all of them are firmly rooted in our ambitions and values. Ultimately, the next generation won’t care about nature if they don’t think they’re part of it. So while our values haven’t changed, the way we choose to express those values to new generations of customers is always evolving.
At Patagonia, it’s not that we’re just looking for ways to stand out for the sake of standing out. We behave differently because our ambitions are different. We also measure success differently—on the basis of long-term contributions, not short-term profits. When you chase short-term profits, you either keep doing what you already know will work or copy what someone else is doing. We don’t do that. When we stand out, it’s because we’ve found a new way to express our long-term ambitions.
In the mid-1990s, for example, we took a stand against chemically intensive cotton and began making all of our clothes with organic cotton. It was a challenge, and a lot of our manufacturing partners walked away from us, but we learned by doing and ultimately developed our own private cotton supply chain. Most people aren’t willing to jump right in like that. But that’s the way I like to deal with everything. Most people want to figure things out to the nth degree before they ever take a step. In the end, they won’t even take that step because it feels too unfamiliar. Not me. I immediately jump in and see how it feels. That’s how I know we’re on the cutting edge—when we step outside conventions and lead the market rather than follow it. This approach takes vision and perseverance, but it keeps us in a category of our own. As the saying goes, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
I was on a panel during the recent recession, and it was all surf industry CEOs and people like that. We all talked about our businesses, and I talked about how much effort we put into cleaning up our supply chain and trying not to cause unnecessary harm. One of the CEOs from one of the largest surf companies told me his company had been making a few organic cotton ball caps and T-shirts before the recession but had cut back when the economy slowed down.
I said, “How are your sales?” He said, “Well, we’re down about 25 percent.” Patagonia was up 30 percent. That company ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Today the surf industry is on the rocks, but we’re doing great because we’re riding our own wave.
The Secret To Lasting Is To Keep Playing Your Own Game
I’ve been in business for over 60 years. I’ve survived bad times. I’ve thrived in good times. I believe the secret to lasting is never sitting still. Some people see change as a threat. They hate it. I thrive on it, as does every ecosystem as well as every business that cares about its legacy in the making. I’m not talking about change for the sake of change. I’m talking about evolving and adapting as if you intend on being here a hundred years from now; it’s about never losing sight of where you came from or what inspired you in the first place.
Although we try to run Patagonia as if it’s going to be here a hundred years from now, I tell my employees that doesn’t mean we have a hundred years to get there. Continuous change requires a sense of urgency. That’s why my job these days is to combat complacency and instigate change. There’s a falconry term—yarak—that means super-alert, hungry, and ready to hunt. Along with our other leaders, one of my responsibilities is to keep the company in yarak.
The best way I keep us from sitting still is by using what I’ve learned to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders, which includes the following:
• Have an ambition to develop better tools.
• Growth can be toxic, though culture can be a tonic.
• Move people, not just products.
• Be distinct in everything we do.
• Evolve and change to remain unique.
• Long-term values can guide quick decision-making every day.
As the authors of this book say, “The making of a legacy is personal, behavioral, influential, unconventional, and perpetual.” These lessons don’t expire, and through education they can transcend generations. So I share my story—as I have here—to pass my legacy forward for others to carry on.
The business world talks about the importance of long-term thinking in a short-term world. It’s true, though it’s never easy. Conventional business will fight you every step of the way. Long-term investments in programs such as our brand’s employee childcare center and our pollution standards always look negative on our financial ledger. But because we think long-term, we know we have responsibilities beyond our conventional bottom line. So do you. So does every great brand leader.
You may already believe that your culture is your product, not what you sell. You may also believe, like me, that companies shouldn’t exist simply to be sold for a profit and broken apart. Of course, this isn’t how conventional business works. Conventional business treats companies like fatted calves to be auctioned to the highest bidder in the shortest amount of time. It’s the American way. It starts when we’re young, when they say, “Okay, kids, line up on the starting line and let’s see who can run the fastest! Now line up over here, kids, and let’s see who can jump the highest!” That way of thinking produces one superhero and a bunch of losers. But, I wanted to do something different. I always have.
Growing up, I was as good as anybody at baseball and football and other sports. But when it came time to line up and perform for a crowd, I couldn’t do it. So I’ve been a climber, a kayaker, a falconer, a Telemark skier, a spear fisherman—all noncompetitive sports. All individual pursuits where your only competition is how high you set your personal ambitions.
That’s my advice to you as you build your legacy in the making: Invent your own game. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of this life, let that enduring ambition guide you, and if the right tools don’t exist to accomplish it, design your own tools. Be the only person who does what you do the way you do it. That way, you will always be the winner.
The not-so-fun fact about fashion: The multi-trillion-dollar apparel business is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. For years, in fact, experts argued that it was the second dirtiest industry in the world, behind only fossil fuels. While the provability of that specific claim has been …
Poshmark is an online marketplace where people can buy and sell clothing from boutiques or their own closets.
Suzanne Canon is the first seller on Poshmark to pull in $1 million in sales.
In May, the company announced that it had paid out $1 billion to its sellers so far.
In 2012, Suzanne Canon decided she wanted to make a quick buck on the side while doing the books for her husband’s business. So, she started selling clothes from her closet using an app called Poshmark.
Within five years, 39-year-old Canon has grown from selling on the side to setting up her own wholesale clothing business and being the first Poshmark user to make $1 million in sales on the app.See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Getting any local business to rank high on Google is becoming more and more difficult, but one of the most competitive — and complex — industries for local SEO are car dealerships. Today’s car shoppers do much of their research online before they even step into a dealership showroom. (And many people don’t even know what type of car they even want when they begin their search.)
However, car dealerships are more complex than the average local business — which means their digital marketing strategies are more complex, as well. First, dealers often sell new vehicles from several different manufacturers with a variety of makes and models. Next, because so many people trade in their old cars when they purchase new cars, car dealers also sell a variety of used vehicles from even more manufacturers. Additionally, car dealerships also have a service department that offers car maintenance and repairs — like manufacturer warranty work, oil changes, tire rotations, recall repairs, and more. (The search feature on a car dealer’s website alone is a complex system!)
Essentially, a car dealer is like three businesses in one: they sell new cars, used cars, AND do vehicle repairs. This means your optimization strategy must also be multi-faceted, too.
Also, if you look at the car dealerships in your city, you will probably find at least one dealership with multiple locations. These multi-location family of dealerships may be in the same city or in surrounding cities.
Additionally, depending on that family of dealerships, they may have one website or they might have different websites for each location. (Many auto manufacturers require dealers to have separate websites if they sell certain competitors’ vehicles.)
So if you’re helping car dealers with SEO, you must be thinking about the various manufacturers, the types of vehicles being sold (new and used), the repair services being offered, the number of websites and locations you’ll be managing, manufacturer requirements — among other things.
So what are some of the search optimization strategies you should use when working with a car dealership? Here are some SEO recommendations.
Google My Business
Google My Business has been shown to have a direct correlation to local SEO — especially when it comes to showing up in the Google Local 3-Pack.
One important factor with Google My Business is making sure that the dealership’s information is correct and contains valuable information that searchers will find helpful. This is important for competitive markets — especially when only a handful of sites show up on the first page of Google search results. Here are some key Google My Business features to take advantage of:
Name, address, and phone number
Ensure that the dealership’s name, address and phone number is correct. (If you have a toll-free number, make sure that your LOCAL area code phone number is the one listed on your Google My Business listing.) It’s important that this information is the same on all local online directories that the dealership is listed on.
Google My Business allows you to select categories (a primary category and additional categories) to describe what your dealership offers. Even though the categories you select affect local rankings, keep in mind that the categories are just one of many factors that determine how you rank in search results.
These categories help connect you with potential customers that are searching for what your car dealership sells. You can select a primary category and additional categories – but don’t go overboard by selecting too many categories. Be specific. Choose as few categories as possible to describe the core part of your dealership’s business. If the category you want to use isn’t available, choose a general category that’s still accurate. You can’t create your own categories. Here are some example categories you could use:Car DealerUsed Car DealerBMW dealerKeep in mind that if you’re not ranking as high as you want to rank, changing your categories may improve your rankings. You might need to tweak your categories until you get it right. If you add or edit one of your categories, you might be asked by Google to verify your business again. (This just helps Google confirm that your business information is accurate.)
Google uses photo engagement on Google My Business to help rank businesses in local search. Show photos of the new and used cars you have on your dealership’s lot — and be sure to update them frequently. After you make a sale, make sure you get a photo consent form signed and ask if you can take a picture of your happy customers with their new car to upload to Google My Business (and your other social media platforms.)
If you’re a digital marketing agency or a sales manager at a dealership, getting your salespeople to upload photos to Google My Business can be challenging. Steady Demand’s LocalPics tool makes it easy for salespeople to send pictures of happy customers in their new cars by automatically sending text message reminders. You simply set the frequency of these reminders. The LocalPics tool automatically sends text messages to the sales reps reminding them to submit their photos:
All the sales reps have to do is save their customers’ photos to their phone. You set up text message reminders to each sales rep and when they get the text message reminder, the sales team simply has to go into their smartphone’s pictures and upload their images through the text message, and the photos are automatically posted to the dealership’s Google My Business listing! (They can also text photos to their Google My Business anytime they want as well — they don’t have to wait for the reminder text messages.)
Google recently began allowing businesses to upload 30-second videos to their Google My Business listing. Videos are a great way to show off the uniqueness of your dealership. These videos auto-play on mobile devices — which is where many people do their car searching on — so you should include several videos to showcase the cars and what’s going on at your dealership.
Online reviews are crucial for when people search for the right type of car AND the dealership they should purchase that car from. Make sure you ask happy customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing and ensure that you keep up by responding to all reviews left on your Google My Business listing.
Questions & Answers
The Google My Business Q&A feature has been around for several months, yet many businesses still don’t know about it — or pay attention to it. It’s important that you are constantly looking at questions that are being asked of your dealership and that you promptly answer those questions with the correct answer.
Just like most things on Google My Business, anyone can answer questions that are asked — and that means that it’s easy for misinformation to get out about your dealership and the cars on your lot. Make sure you have a person dedicated on your team to watch the Q&As being asked on your listing.
Also, be sure to frequently check your GMB dashboard. Remember, virtually anyone can make changes to your Google My Business listing. You want to check to make sure nobody has changed your information without you knowing.
Online directories (especially car directories)
If you’re looking for ways to improve your dealership’s rankings and backlink profile, online automotive directories are a great place to start. Submitting your dealership’s site to an online automotive directory or to an online directory that has an automotive category can help build your backlink profile. Additionally, many of these online directories show up on the first page of Google search results, so if your dealership isn’t listed on them, you’re missing out.
There are quite a few paid-for and free automotive online directories. Yelp, YellowPages, Bing, etc. are some of the larger general online directories that have dedicated automotive categories you can get listed on for free. Make sure your dealership’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent with the information that you have listed on Google My Business.
Online reviews are important. If your dealership has bad reviews, people are less likely to trust you. There are dedicated review sites for vehicle reviews and car dealership reviews. Sites like Kelley Blue Book, DealerRater, Cars.com, and Edmunds are just a few sites that make it easy for consumers to check out dealership reviews. DealerRater even allows consumers to list — and review — the employees they worked with at a particular dealership:
If they have a negative experience with your dealership — or one of your employees — you can bet that unhappy customer will leave a review. (And remember that reviews are not only left about your new and used car sales — they are also left about your repair shop as well!)
There are software platforms you can install on your dealership’s site that make it easier for customers to leave reviews for your dealership. These tools also make it simple to monitor and deflect negative reviews to certain review websites. (It’s important to note that Google recently changed their policies and no longer support “review gating” — software that doesn’t allow a negative review to be posted on Google My Business.)
NOTE: Many automotive manufacturers offer dealerships coop dollars that can be used for advertising and promotions; however, sometimes they make it easier for the dealers to get that money if they use specific turnkey programs from manufacturer-approved vendors. As an example, if you offer a reputation marketing software tool that can help the dealership get online reviews, the dealership may be incentivized to use DealerRater instead because they’ve been “approved” by the manufacturer. (And this goes for other marketing and advertising as well — not just reputation marketing.)
Select long-tail keywords
Selecting the right keywords has always been a part of SEO. You want to select the keywords that have a high search frequency, mid-to-low competitiveness, ones that have direct relevance to your website’s content — and are keyword phrases that your potential car buyers are actually using to search for the cars and services your dealership offers.
When it comes to selecting keywords for your site’s pages, writing for long-tailed keywords (e.g. “2018 Ford Mustang GT features”) have a better chance of ranking highly in Google search results than a short-tailed and generic keyword phrase like “Ford cars.”
Other car-related search keywords — like “MSRP” and “list prices” — are keywords you should add to your arsenal.
For instance, if you’re showing the interior of the 2018 Dodge Challenger, you may want to name the actual picture image file “picture-of-dodge-challenger-2018-awd-front-seat-interior.png” and use the alt tag “Pictures of Dodge Challenger 2018 AWD Front Seat Interior for Sale in Cedar Rapids.”
As with everything SEO-related, use discretion with the “pictures of” strategy. Don’t overdo it, but it should be a part of your image optimization strategy to a certain extent on specific car overview pages.
Optimize for local connections
One thing many car dealerships fail to realize is how important it is to make local connections — not only for local SEO purposes but also for community trust and support as well. You should make a connection on at least one of the pages on your site that relates to what’s going on in your local community/city.
For instance, on your About Us page, you may want to include a link to a city-specific page that talks about what’s going on in your city. Is there a July 4th parade? And if so, are you having a float or donating a convertible for the town’s mayor to ride in? If you sponsor a local charity or belong to the Chamber of Commerce, it’d be great to mention it on one of these localized pages (mentioning your city’s name, of course) and talk about what your dealership’s role is and what you do. Is there an upcoming charity walk or do you donate to your local animal shelter? Share pictures (and be sure to use alt tags) and write about what you’re doing to help.
All of this information not only helps beef up your local SEO because you’re using the city’s name you’re trying to rank for, but it also creates good will for future customers. Additionally, you can create links to these various charities and organizations and ask that they, in turn, create a link to your site. Local backlinking at its best!
If you want to increase the chances of Google — and the other search engines — understanding what your site’s pages are about, using schema markup will give you a leg-up over your competition. (And chances are your car dealership competitors aren’t yet using schema markup.)
You’ll want to start by using the Vehicle “Type” schema and then markup each particular car using the Auto schema markup JSON-LD code. You can find the Schema.org guidelines for using Schema Markup for Cars on Schema.org. Below is an example of what JSON-LD schema markup looks like for a 2009 Volkswagen Golf:
Listen to the SEO for Car Dealerships podcast episode to learn EVEN MORE!
If you want to learn even more information about the complexities of car dealerships and search optimization strategies, be sure to listen to my interview on MozPod’s SEO for Car Dealerships.
In this podcast we’ll cover even more topics like:
What NOT to include in your page’s title tagHow to determine if you really own your dealership’s website or notHow to handle it if your dealership moves locationsWhy using the manufacturer-provided car description information verbatim is a bad ideaDoes “family owned” really matter?How to handle car dealers with multiple locationsHow to get creative with your Car Service pages by showing off your employeesWhy blogging is a must-do SEO strategy and some topic ideas to get you startedWays to get local backlinksTips for getting online reviewsWhat other digital marketing strategies you should try and whyAnd more
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