Vice President, Search, DealerOn
The much-awaited UnGagged conference is to be held in London from 11-13 June, 2018. Designed to uncover some of the biggest and most profitable opportunities in digital marketing, UnGagged features a host of speakers and experts who would give the latest on SEO and how to leverage it to boost your business. We spoke to Greg Gifford, Vice President of Search, DealerOn to figure out the latest trends in local SEO and how SMBs can benefit from it.
Tell us about your journey at DealerOn? What is the biggest SEO challenge that DealerOn faces?
I started at DealerOn just shy of 3 years ago. They’re primarily a website provider for car dealers, but they wanted to start selling SEO, and they came after me really hard because I was pretty visible in the automotive space as “the SEO guy”. I started in June of 2015, and we started selling SEO shortly thereafter. I didn’t want to move to company HQ in Washington, DC, so they opened a satellite office in Dallas. Fast forward to 3 years later and we’ve got almost 30 people working at the Dallas office!
The biggest SEO challenge we face is twofold – most dealers don’t understand how SEO works, or trust that it’s important, yet it’s the source of the majority of their website traffic and leads. You’ll have dealers that have no problem spending 15 to 20 grand a month on PPC, but then they freak out at spending a few thousand on SEO. So, there’s a lot of education that needs to happen to bridge that gap. The other side of the challenge is that there are a ton of vendors who sell super cheap SEO that won’t really do anything for dealers, but since dealers don’t know the difference, they go with the cheapest option. Again, there’s a lot of education necessary so that dealers understand what’s important for SEO and what’s going to make a difference for their site and traffic, so they’re able to avoid wasting money on the vendors who won’t really be helping them
How can small businesses benefit from focusing on local SEO?
Since Google uses a different algorithm to determine local search results, any small business with a physical location (or that serves customers in a particular geographic area) would be best served with Local SEO. There’s quite a bit of overlap between Local and traditional SEO, so there’s going to be some benefit regardless… But if a business invests in the extra aspects included in Local SEO, they’re maximizing their chances of showing up in local searches. If you’re missing a few key elements, you might not show up in the map pack at all. In many cases, there are far more than 10 competitors in a local area, so Local SEO is absolutely necessary for any business that wants to show up at the top of page one results.
Could you give us three tips for local brands to optimize their website to leverage Local SEO?
- Test everything yourself. Local is incredibly intricate and complicated – what works in one city won’t necessarily work in another… And what works for one business won’t necessarily work for another. It’s important to test things to make sure that you’re optimizing things that will really move the needle.
- Localized content is key. I’m not talking about packing in city keywords to some magic percentage – I’m talking about truly localized content. Think of it this way – if you can take the content from your site and change the business name and city and put it on another similar business’ website in another city, does the content still work? If it does, then it’s not really localized for your city or neighborhood, and you’ve got some work to do. Actually talk about the local area, and make sure you emphasize what your business actually does.
- Blog regularly, and don’t just talk about yourself. Share interesting/useful info about the local area. People will get bored if you’re only ever pushing out thinly-veiled marketing posts. Writing about the local area will keep people interested in what you’re writing, and has the added benefit of increasing local relevancy for the whole site.
What metrics do you track to determine the success of an SEO campaign?
It’s important to realize that what we, as marketers, interpret as success doesn’t usually line up with what business owners consider to be success. Perfect example – we had a client quit at the end of his 12-month contract, and were blown away because we had doubled his organic traffic and more than doubled leads from organic traffic… but he was selling fewer cars than he was selling a year ago, so there was no ROI for him. Regardless of the fact that we were clearly successful in our eyes, we were a failure in his. You’ve got to talk to clients and see what’s important to them. In most cases, you’ve got to figure out how to tie your efforts into their bottom line. Ranking data doesn’t mean squat… The only thing that affects someone’s bottom line is organic traffic and organic leads, and how they increase over time.
If you’ve got a client that will share sales data with you, it’s awesome to tie in traffic and leads to actual dollars. If you know their close rate and what an average sale is worth, you can assign a dollar value to increased traffic and leads, and that will make any business owner incredibly happy.
What do you believe are the main factors that determine relevancy for Local SEO?
Local links and website content are by far the most important factors. GMB info is important as well, and reviews are also a big piece of the puzzle. Proximity and location are huge factors, but business owners can’t optimize for those factors.
How would you describe UnGagged as a Movie Title?
I’d probably go with Baadasssss!
What drew you to UnGagged? Which Sessions are you looking forward to?
I got asked to keynote… but after going to UnGagged last year in Vegas, I’m definitely pumped to hit up the original in London. I’m always psyched to hear Marty Weintraub, and I’m excited to see Dawn Anderson, Aleyda Solis, Kristine Schachinger, and Hannah Thorpe – their sessions all look awesome. Plus I’m excited to get a photo with Bartosz Goralewicz and Joe Sinkwitz, cause Facebook always confuses the 3 of us since we’re all so damn handsome.
Thanks for chatting with us, Greg.
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