Your unique marketing needs will determine how big your SEO budget should be.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a buzz phrase in online marketing that is often used but rarely understood. There’s a reason for that. To those who don’t work with SEO professionally, it can be the opposite of exciting and intriguing. Even so, it is crucial to any industry but especially in the automotive industry where competition is high.
Most dealerships don’t have the kind of marketing budget you would need to do a proper SEO campaign in-house. You would have to offer a high salary to a proven professional who works on nothing but your SEO campaign if you want results with longevity.
This is important: cutting corners in any way can lead to an SEO plan that crashes and wastes your marketing budget.
Even if you know something about SEO and want to do it yourself to save money, you aren’t actually looking at cutting costs in the grand scheme of things. SEO takes an enormous amount of time, particularly local SEO with its more distinctive factors.
A good SEO campaign can take up to 100 hours a month. That is valuable time that could be spent towards running your business. Your time costs money for your business and other parts of your business might suffer if you focus on SEO yourself.
Hiring an SEO company who specializes in SEO marketing strategies is your best bang for your buck. However, with so many out there, it’s hard to know how much you should budget and who you should hire.
The SEO industry currently does not have an industry standard for pricing. There are also different pricing models, which can make things confusing. Should you pay hourly, monthly or a flat rate? It depends. That may be a frustrating answer, but figuring out your specific needs will help get you closer to the answer.
Every campaign will be different, so it is difficult to provide hard numbers. However, there are a few factors to consider when deciding your budget. What is the local competition for your dealership? How many different types of cars, i.e., keywords, do you want to promote? Do you have more than one location? What is your current marketing and SEO campaign?
Every dealership has a unique business model. An SEO company will help determine how to make yours stand out and set you apart by exploring how your particular services and business model can show up on search engines.
The best way to do this is high-quality, relevant content and that requires some high-level skill. Choosing blogging and content services with your package is a little pricey but it is worth its weight in gold as long as you choose a company that will produce high-quality content.
Research and Number of Keywords
Each car you want to promote has its own keyword or keyword phrases. With each keyword, there are research and optimization strategies that have different needs as each one will have different competition.
Keyword research is a laborious effort but incredibly valuable. If your budget is smaller, you want to work with your SEO company to devise a strategy that will focus on the keywords that will offer the most value to your dealership.
If you have more than one location, each one is going to count as a separate entity and therefore, a separate citation. A citation is anywhere your dealership name, address and phone number are mentioned online.
Citations are mainly used on each locations’ website, business directories, maps, local industry-specific association directories, social media and any types of blogs and apps your dealership uses or is affiliated with.
Current Marketing and SEO Strategies
It will actually work in your favor if you haven’t already used an SEO campaign. If your site is fairly new, that is even better. A clean slate is much easier for an SEO to start with.
Any SEO work that was done previously will have to be evaluated and any obstacles to good rankings that have been set in place will need to be dealt with.
Even though this could raise your fees, make sure you are as upfront and transparent as possible about all SEO and online marketing work that was done previously. This ensures that the SEO company knows what they are working with and will avoid any surprises later that could end up costing you even more.
What Should You Look For In An SEO Company?
Services and Experience
Make sure they not only specialize in local SEO but that they also have experience with auto dealership campaigns. Most companies will offer a free consultation. Have questions ready about the auto industry’s specific online needs.
Look for them to offer exclusivity in your area so you can be sure that they are not also helping the competition.
Be wary of over promising. Any good SEO company will be honest about how much time and money a campaign will take. Promising a page one ranking within a few days or even a few weeks is a bit sketchy, especially if the price is lower.
Blogging and Understanding of Customers
Do they understand that your customers and potential customers are just as important as your search engine ranking?
Ask for a portfolio of content they have produced for other dealerships. Does their content focus on what customers are looking for? Do they solve problems and answer questions? Do they offer relevant and in-depth writing? These are important factors to consider and will show the level of services the company has to offer.
If you can fit high-quality backlinks in your budget — and you should — ask them about their backlink strategy. They should already be prepared with proven strategies.
Make sure all of their practices are white-hat, which means that they don’t use shortcuts or buy links. This will earn you a huge black-mark from all the major search engines and it is something to watch out for, especially with lower-priced companies.
Citations and Social Media
Citations should be a given but if you want to add to that with a full-service social media package, ask them if they have experience with using local media. Local media can jumpstart a social media campaign quite nicely and can add a huge amount of value to your search engine ranking.
After discussing the services you want and your goals, ask them for an estimate on how many hours per month they will devote and how much will be required of you and your staff.
Are they willing to work month to month? This is important because getting locked into a contract might not be the way you want to start. They should offer different options, beware of a company that only offers a longterm contract.
Look out for honest sounding answers. Anything that sounds too good to be true almost always is. This platitude remains strong because it is almost always accurate, no matter what industry you’re dealing with.
As you can see, it’s difficult to give a precise answer, but understanding the important factors for a local SEO campaign can arm your dealership with a powerful game plan to figure out how to budget for your SEO campaign.