The increasing importance of optimization

At a time of tight resources and lean staffs, you want to be able to reach and attract prospective buyers as cost-effectively as possible. Fortunately, online marketing presents a great opportunity to do just that.

One of the top ways to attract customers is with a well-crafted website that utilizes search engine optimization (SEO), organic methods of improving visibility and search engine marketing (SEM), paid methods of improving visibility.

Search engines use algorithms called “spiders” to comb through websites, scan content, match it with the search terms and determine the site’s ranking.

Because of the complexity of search engine science, companies such as ARI/Channel Blade have developed tools for helping dealers create and maintain attractive websites with optimized content, images, coding and more. By using the right tools, dealers can spend more time focusing on their core mission – selling boats.

The importance of SEO

The design of your website must address a number of elements for the site to achieve a high search ranking. First, its content must be relevant to your business and location.
Your homepage is the front door to your dealership with extremely valuable real estate and dealers must remember this when crafting their content. You need to include text that is rich in keywords because it will improve your search ranking.

Links are also fundamental to your search ranking. You can increase your rank by linking to and from other boating-related sites. You can also increase it through meta tags. This term refers to the background information, coded into HTML, that describes a page’s content. It is important to remember that both links and meta tags should accurately reflect the content of the site and be closely tied to keyword terms. If you have meta tags identified within your code that are not in the content of your website, then those words will be ignored by search engines, defeating the purpose of including them.

To ensure a site’s content is searchable, it must have searchable text. Search engines cannot analyze the content of images or video on your site. That is why meta tags must be used to describe what is in an image or video. The same is true for Flash-based animations and graphics. Even though Flash can add excitement to your site, dealers must weigh its advantages against its downsides – namely that it will not be catalogued in a search.

Adding SEM multiplies results

SEM, or pay-per-click online advertising, is effective in driving traffic to the dealership website. In fact, using SEM in combination with SEO can be as much as 500 percent more effective than either one alone.

Paid search results are based on a combination of the dollars spent on the program and the site’s performance in SEO. This is why it’s best to look at a program holistically.
SEM or pay-per-click programs can become costly, quickly. Working with a vendor who understands the complexities of SEM programs will help you overcome some of the beginning challenges, thus increasing your ROI.

It is usually best to start your SEM efforts with one product, which enables you to refine your messages and keywords on a smaller scale at first. Once you see success from target marketing that product, you can expand your SEM program into other brands and products – reinvesting the profits of your SEM program.

In the boating industry, the world’s most powerful content will not assure that you increase sales, unless customers can find you. Keeping up with the fundamentals of SEO and SEM are good investments for dealers who want to succeed with their online efforts.

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