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Video Killed the SEO Star

August 2008, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Sean V. Bradley

Darwin explained his theory of natural selection as the “principle by which each slight variation [of a trait], if useful, is preserved.” In the world of automotive retail, we are all in a state of evolution, even if some of us fight it, kicking and screaming, along the way.

There is so much opportunity to make money in your special finance department, but sometimes it’s hard to find the magic formula for success. To truly evolve, we must understand and adopt the strategies that have allowed the strongest dealerships to survive.

Video search engine optimization (VSEO) is by far the most powerful form of online marketing. Traditional search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are useful tools, but they won’t produce the results you’ll get from a VSEO campaign.

Common misconceptions

Many dealers out there are uploading videos to YouTube or MySpace and telling themselves that their VSEO campaign is under way. That is simply not the case. Anybody can upload a video; as a matter of fact, there are very inexpensive video cameras on the market that come pre-loaded with YouTube software. It’s an easy way to get videos online, but it’s not VSEO.

Another common misconception is that potential buyers are shopping for cars on those video hosting sites. Many Internet-savvy customers are, but the vast majority is more likely to initiate the car-buying process on a regular search engine such as Google, Yahoo! or MSN. For the first time, videos are popping up on the first page of search results, often in the top 10. That means people who weren’t necessarily looking for a video found one anyway, and that video was optimized to appear in the organic results. That’s VSEO.

You may have heard of Web 2.0, a term that describes the rapidly changing online landscape. It’s a push toward a more creative use of technology on the part of both providers and end users. Social-networking and file-sharing sites are excellent examples of what the future holds for the Internet. As more and more people move toward the Web and away from traditional advertising media, your dealership’s videos should be there to greet them.

Benefits of a VSEO campaign

VSEO includes the creation, management and distribution of multimedia, including audio and video, image files, titles and descriptions, metadata and keywords. For dealers, the proper utilization of all these facets of the technology can combine to land their videos on the first page of search results on all the video search engines, as well as traditional search engines. Think of VSEO as traditional SEO on steroids: Not only can your dealership get the placement it needs to attract customers, but those customers are greeted with videos, rather than a static site.

VSEO is more powerful than traditional SEO and SEM for the following reasons:

• Video content is more valuable to the search engines. A properly optimized video can and will get more visibility and higher rankings on a search engine. VSEO often can achieve top 10 rankings on search engines within seven to 14 days. Traditional SEO can take much longer to “kick in.”

• With traditional SEO, you have one Website, one URL. That means you can only show up in the results once, and that’s if you show up at all. With VSEO, you can run any number of videos online. That can mean more first-page results for you, and fewer slots for your competitors.

• Video is still new enough to set you apart. Think of the number of your competitors who haven’t even mastered SEO and SEM!

• Video allows you to interact with potential customers. As a seasoned presenter, I’ve learned that words alone have little impact. People hear more with their eyes and their hearts than their ears. Video communication allows your customers to pick up on your body language and vocal inflections.

• The strongest form of advertising is word-of-mouth. I’m talking about testimonials, testimonials and more testimonials! Create videos of your favorite customers. Get them talking about how they really, really needed a good car and a good loan, and you delivered.

Getting the campaign under way

Try the following steps to get your VSEO campaign rolling:

1. Take the do-it-yourself approach, or select a third-party provider. Many dealers have channeled their inner geek to launch a successful VSEO campaign. They know about things like creating and maintaining multiple accounts on the file-hosting sites, not to mention keeping careful track of all the names, logins, passwords and uploads associated with each account. However, not everybody has the time to become a video expert, let alone wrap their minds around the intricacies of VSEO.

2. Shoot some videos. The big difference is content. You’re going to need different types of videos and lots of them. Start with video testimonials from satisfied customers, but not just one or two. Some of your customers found just the car they wanted. Others needed help getting a loan. And why stop there? Testimonials from lender reps and regional OEM managers can go a long way toward convincing potential buyers that you’re the real deal.

3. Diversify your library. Mix it up. You want to have some OEM-style, mind-blowing computer animations, but some serious and funny stuff as well.

4. Aim high. Remember, what you put into VSEO is what you’re going to get out of it. If you haven’t seen Johnson Automotive’s series of “No Badgers” commercials, do yourself a favor and look them up. You’ll find a series of very funny ads with high production quality. Johnson spent a lot of time and money to produce them, but they were a big hit. Millions and millions of people have seen them. However, there have been a lot of imitation badger commercials, and they’re pretty hard to watch. Don’t try to hijack an idea if you can’t do it well!

5. Understand the technology. Search engines are growing more sophisticated every day. Many have facial-recognition, pixel-recognition and speech-recognition software. This technology was developed specifically to ensure that the videos that show up in search results are actually relevant. Therefore, your subject lines, description, keywords, etc. must match the content of the video. You can’t just upload random videos and tag them with whatever keywords you think you need. Think about what your campaign is going to be about, create your videos, and tag them appropriately.

Special finance is a very profitable sector of the automotive industry. You want to make sure that you can properly convey your message to your prospects, and video communication is the best tool available. Bottom line: I strongly suggest that you create a VSEO strategy for your special finance department as soon as possible. Sell with it or sell against it.

Sean V. Bradley is the founder/CEO of DealerSynergy, an award-winning international automotive training and consulting firm that specializes in special finance, Internet sales, BDC and technology. E-mail Sean at sbradley@special-finance.com.

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