Archive for December, 2010

Another Edition of “Did You Know?”

Friday, December 17th, 2010

We are proud to represent so many professional car dealers online, many of them VIADA members. Some dealers I come in contact with every day have forgotten more about the automotive industry than I will ever know in my lifetime. However, when visiting dealers we sometimes discover we know a few things about computers and the Internet not everyone else knows. Some tips and shortcuts we take for granted could really help some of our clients and so we take this opportunity to share them with you.

Did You Know? When you go to your own site by typing the address in the address bar of a browser you could type the whole thing out or just the root address, the part after the “www.”. For instance, to get to VIADA’s site you could type “www.VIADA.org” or just “VIADA.org”. Either way you get to the same website. Everyone should type their own website address in with out the “www.” When you type in VIADA’s address this way you will see the address in the address bar actually changes to the version with the “www.” If your website does not react the same way then you will see the address bar reads something like “http://Your_Site.com” and if so, you need to call your website provider right away. Yes, they are both pointing to the same website and no, there is no issue with anyone getting to your site. The problem is that Google indexes your site often and if they see links to your site with and without the “www.” in it they treat them both as separate websites. In short, each address will be competing with the other for pagerank and both pages could suffer as a result. This is simple for your webmaster to fix, just give them a call.

Did You Know? If your website has a credit application built in or any other form that retrieves personal, private information from others you need to safeguard that information the same way you would safeguard documents in your office. Personal privacy policies, too many to mention, require you to ensure this information is kept confidential and secure. This means if you are collecting it online, you need to do so in a secure environment. So many times I hear a dealer say “My online credit application is secure” when in reality it is not. Don’t be fooled by secure icons or lock icons indicating security and don’t take their word that it is secure just because they are charging you for it, confirm it for yourself, instead. Go to your credit application page and look again at the address bar. If the first five letters in the address are not “https” then it is not secure, period. We see this often and I predict it will get higher on the enforcement radar in the months to come.

Also, visit all of your site’s secure pages from time to time and make sure you don’t see any warnings or pop ups referring to the secure certificate. Errors in code will cause these errors and while the page functions properly it will discourage many from going further with their inquiry.

Did You Know? When you advertise on VIADA’s website exclusive to members only, www.VAUsedCarDealers.com, (VUCD) your listings are not only found on this website but also get fed to many others. Some of these other sites will advertise your listings for free and recently we have added a few more of these free classified sites. We will also feed your inventory data and photos to all your paid online classified advertisers like Cars.com and many others.

Did You Know? When you visit your website there is one important part that often goes unnoticed. The Title Statement is usually a piece of code embedded in the page telling everyone what that page is about. So many times, especially with template designs, this unfortunately goes unnoticed by the site provider. The title statement should be a brief description of what one can expect to find in that page. It can be no longer than 60 characters and should contain keywords relevant to your business, product and area in which you offer your product or service. This statement is what is used to title a Bookmark or Favorites page when your customer stores the url for future visits. It is also used as the click text when search engines list your site as a search result. Most importantly, search engines use this tag when determining what traffic to send your site. So if your site says something like “ABC Motors – Welcome” then you could be losing search engine traffic, unless you are selling welcome mats… “ABC Motors great financing, quality used cars in Roanoke, VA” would be a better Title statement for the home page of a site. If your Title statements are too general or are the same on every page, work with your web provider to change that and you will see imporved search engine traffic.

Did You Know? This is the 50th edition of The Internet Corner dating back to the May – June 1992 issue of The Virginia Independent News.

Did You Know? A template site will cost you more than it will save. A template site is one that has a cookie cut style to start with and all you have to do is plug in your name and address and maybe a logo or photo. Within a few short minutes your site is created and because there is no work involved it is often pretty cheap. However, the amount of lost search engine traffic and the damage from a watered down branding far exceed the savings. Not only does your client have a hard time distinguishing you from the other dealer sites using the same template provider, it is just as hard for the search engines to see the difference. No two independent dealers are alike and there is no reason they should share the same website. Having a site with your dealership’s logo, slogan color schemes and other branding items that match your other forms of advertising will go farther in getting you to stand out in the crowd.