Car Dealers: Paying For SEO VS Not Paying – Surprising Results

I’ve been noticing an increase in spammy practices from SEO Vendors in the car industry. I don’t mean backlinks, but more of the on-page SEO. For the record, I do not do SEO for car dealers because I don’t believe there is a return for it. I do it for other industries, and I’ve been doing it for a long time so I’m very well read on the matter and I have experience. After learning that a dealer was paying $3,000.00 a month for SEO, I started digging. Here I did a comparison on two dealers about the same size with the same market (and the same brand).

What I measured:

  • Landing pages from organic only, excluding Google My Business Listings. The search engines included are Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo & Ask.
  • Only the PMA and surrounding realistic areas.
  • What type of page the searcher landed on.
  • I excluded anyone who landed on the home page because branding could be a factor, knowing that most of the searches come from a brand search. I see this from Google Search Console (below).

SEO Spend: $9,000.00

SEO Spend: $0

Search Console From Paying Dealer

This is why I didn’t show homepage visits. It’s mostly brand queries, which go to the homepage. So to keep it fair, I kept it out.

If you look at the Ford and used keywords, it’s very disappointing. Let’s pretend that if you don’t pay $9000.00 for 3 months of SEO you will get ZERO clicks. If I subtract the brand queries, they paid $17.61 per click. Just remember, a car dealership is a brick and mortar business. Location matters, and the top keywords are location based. Just one example is the keyword “Ford Dealership” from where I live. Google will always show the three pack, which is very accurate as far as proximity. The rest of the listing are very accurate except for the one from Pennsylvania. There appears to be one dealer that needs a little help down below, but not $3,000 a month worth. It appears they have a penalty because their homepage doesn’t show for their brand search. Position 3 is showing their used SRP page. Obviously the one-pack shows, but that’s entirely different. I just hope they’re aware of this.

As I said in a previous post, don’t waste your money on SEO. That $9,000.00 would have brought them much more if they had applied it somewhere else. At the end of the day the on-page SEO should be included with your website vendor, and they should be constantly adapting with the times as strategies change.