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Outshine competitors on the search engine

By Lauren Labunsky

Dealers may often wonder – what’s the need to have both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? If one of these digital marketing tools is at work for the dealership’s digital strategy, isn’t that enough? Doesn’t that mean the dealership website will appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), whether in the form of an organically ranked listing (SEO) or a paid advertisement (SEM)?

The answer is yes, if you have an effective SEO or SEM strategy, your dealership’s website should appear in one of those positions. But you won’t be maximizing your opportunities – aka, increased traffic to your website – without both strategies in place. SEO and SEM work much more efficiently together than they do apart. The two tools complement each other and work in tandem to drive results for your business.

Many customers may not know the difference between a paid or non-paid search result, but seeing a double dose of your website on a SERP is sure to make an impression. And for those who are a little more marketing-savvy and do know the difference, they will understand the extra effort your business has put forth.

A good SEO strategy is accomplished through high-quality, keyword-rich content on your site as well as things like healthy inbound and outbound links, accurate business listings information, and clean organization and structure on your site. These are all things that contribute to a positive overall user experience on your site anyways, but in addition to adhering to best practices they also help your business rank higher in search results.

But while SEO can help your site appear higher in search, SEM assures that your site will appear at the top of the SERP with paid advertising. This strategy not only puts guaranteed eyes on the message that your dealership wants to promote (for example, “Winter Blowout Sale on Ski Boats”) but it also allows your dealership to target a specific audience of online users who are most likely to buy from you. SEO helps to present your business listing to people making related searches, but SEM provides ads for people who have a likely demonstrated interest in your dealership – plus those ads will appear above all organic listings.

The magic of having SEO and SEM at play simultaneously? Your dealership appears for customers in more than one place on a SERP, increasing your odds of earning clicks. In addition, those customers who are more marketing-savvy will be able to see that you’ve invested in both places. A high ranking through SEO gives your dealership’s ads more credibility. Ads for your dealership in addition to a highly ranked site shows that you prioritize your dealership’s online presence.

SEO and SEM support each other. Together, these strategies ensure that your business has maximized influence on the SERP and makes a strong impression on searchers who are in the market for your dealership. With 3.5 billion Google searches made every day and 90% of searchers never going past page one of search engine results, taking advantage of both opportunities on the platform is a sure way to outshine competing dealerships in your area and present your business as the best choice for consumers. Combining and leveraging both strategies brings more traffic to your website, creating opportunities for more leads and sales.

Lauren Labunsky is the public relations manager for Dealer Spike, a company that provides innovative websites as well as a suite of powerful online advertising solutions that help marine dealers help increase sales and service profitability. For more information, visit www.DealerSpikeMarine.com or call 800-288-5917.

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