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Business Management

Blogs: The SEO Weapon

Regularly updating your dealership website with a simple blog will help keep you at the top of the search rankings.

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I’ve been touting the mighty power of blogs since the summer of 2006 when I started my very first one. Today, I am writing about business blogs specifically to make you aware of a significant algorithm change (just a fancy word for code updates) that is expected to impact 35 percent of all searches on Google(1). Considering that Google garners 80 percent of all Internet searches, ignoring the information you are about to read is simply foolish.

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Google Updates Impacting Your Bottom Line
Early in 2011, Google released an update to its search algorithm known as “Panda” that puts a higher priority on high-quality content. A second update implemented in Oct 2011 aims to provide users with the most up-to-date results.

This means that websites that are rarely, if ever, updated will be pushed down in the search results. If you publish new content, don’t stop because if you do, the clock starts ticking, telling Google you aren’t as relevant as you used to be.

These changes have the tech geek world going nuts with good reason, since in many cases they’re serving clients who have spent serious marketing dollars to rank well. To this I say too bad. Most SEO strategies center around backhanded, complicated (sometimes totally bogus) techniques to keep certain sites on top. Google makes these changes to keep us all honest — after all, when you’re searching for a product on the web, don’t you rely on Google to serve up to the most recent and relevant content? Sure you do.

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The Big Secret
In plain English, Google is saying that if you don’t publish new information on your website, you are dead to it. Seriously, Google will literally punish a site if it’s not updated regularly. What “regularly” means is anyone’s guess, so better safe than sorry.

It’s time to start kicking out some serious content, because let’s face it: there’s not much “new” information to publish on your dealer website. Beyond promotions and events, your products and services don’t change in a way that’s relevant as far as Google is concerned.

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If you remember anything from this article, I want you to remember these three words, perhaps make them silent little chants you say to yourself so you don’t forget to execute your blog content plan:

1. Relevant
2. Regular
3. Consistent

In other words, you need to publish relevant content on a regular basis to establish authority through consistent writing.

Blogs: The Weapon of Choice for SEO Pros
Think I’m being dramatic? Ok, take it from the SEO pros, here’s what the best in the business have to say about Google’s recent changes:

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“It seems to me that the biggest impact on small business owners will be that, in some industries, it will be near impossible to get visibility with a small, rarely-updated website,” says Matt McGee(2), executive news editor for Search Engine Land. “If the business is in an industry where there’s regular news, where things change on a frequent basis, it looks like never-updated websites won’t have much chance of being visible on a lot of queries.”

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“Blogs have always been great SEO weapons,” McGee says, “and this change only seems to emphasize the value of publishing quality content on a regular basis.”

If Your Competition Isn’t Blogging, They Will Be
The majority of businesses are already acquiring customers through their blogs. Fifty-seven percent of those using a company blog as a marketing tool say they’ve acquired a customer through a blog-generated lead.

Further, leads are directly correlated to how often new blog posts are published(3):

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33 percent: Blog less than monthly
49 percent: Blog monthly
72 percent: Blog weekly
76 percent: Blog 2-3 times a week
78 percent: Blog daily
89 percent: Blog multiple times a day

Strategy for Success
My personal advice on how often to post is to first set a realistic plan and don’t take on the effort yourself. You can try assigning staff members to writing posts, but generally I’ve seen this strategy fail. The best formula for success is to hire a service provider to work with you to create and optimize your blog posts for the search engines. This way the content is a reflection of your business culture and style, and you don’t carry the project on your shoulders.

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Also, don’t think of a blog post as this humongous, long writing piece — a post can be simply a few sentences, an image with a quote, or just a few short
paragraphs on a topic.

How to Start a Blog
Wordpress is the only blog platform to consider; don’t even waste your time researching others. I’ve used them all — blogger, Tumblr, Typepad, Moveable type — not one of them can touch the features and functionality you get with WordPress. And it’s free. I’ve even created a YouTube video to help you get started. Go to: http://youtu.be/Kvj-ykwcNS0

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What to Write About
The cardinal rule of blogging is never, ever grab someone else’s post “as is” and plop it on to your blog. I say this not because it is considered plagiarism, but because Google considers duplicate content a strike against you. If you are going to work off a topic you read elsewhere, certainly utilize parts of their writing, but be sure to link to the source. Then, add your unique perspective and commentary so the content is seen as fresh material in the search engine world. 

With that said, by far the biggest struggle I see dealers facing is what to write about.

Here is a list of ideas to get you rolling(4):

1. Why you’re different (and better) than your competition
2. A video tutorial showing how to use your most popular product
3. The problems your salespeople hear about most often
4. The answer to the most common email you receive
5. Give five reasons to sign up to your email newsletter
6. Create a list of your favorite products
7. Review something
8. Praise your best customers
9. Feature a video detailing a customer’s success with your product
10. Share your biggest screw up with a customer and how you made it right
11. Share local organizations you support and ask customers to share their favorites
12. How customers can connect with you on social media
13. Describe your company culture
14. Share your company’s history or story
15. Tell a story not about your company
16. Share 10 things you’re thankful for
17. What’s next for your company
18. A list of your most trafficked posts

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Heather Blessington, CEO of Duo Web Solutions is an accomplished blogger receiving press from CNN, USA Today, BBC and Forbes. Her company specializes in creating and managing blogs for Powersports dealers. Contact Heather directly at [email protected].

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