In the “Content is King and the Search Engine Knows It” article in the July 2011 issue of Digital Dealer magazine, Joe High discussed the importance of having solid content on your web site, and the variety of ways that it helps your dealership, your customers, and the search engines. Content is so much more than simply the words on a page, or even the images. It’s about the message you present as a whole. And as far as customers and search engines are concerned, the entirety of your content matters. So, let’s build on the “content is king” concept and consider engaging with a comprehensive content strategy.
So, what is content? Joe touched on this in his article. Content is everything containing your brand, offline and online, but let’s just stick with the web site portion for now. There are so many elements of content on your web site. In fact, it’s all content. It’s not just the words, it’s the buttons, the ads, the inventory, the “who we are” sections, the community pages, the blog pages, the links (inbound and outbound), the meta copy (and other supporting code), the sitemap, the graphics, the navigation, and the part most people call “content” – the page copy.
A solid content strategy should include:
• A comprehensive list of all of your content locations
• An assignment of responsibilities for creating and maintaining content
• A schedule for content review and update
When it’s time to make an update to your web site, you need to carefully consider several key factors. How will the changes affect the user’s experience? Can users easily find what they are looking for on your site and in your new or used inventory? Did you update your web site coupons and specials to reflect those running on other online sites? For example, let’s say you ran a special only on Facebook and advertised it on your web site. When you pulled the special off of your Facebook page, did you remember to also remove the link on your web site?
Forgetting to update an advertisement’s link to your site can mean people end up on a page full of irrelevant or out-of-date information; and that can mean frustrated potential customers. Those are the ones you’ll lose fast. You may contact your web site provider when it’s time to make updates to your web site, but you’ll need to keep all the other online media in mind at all times, as well. One medium should not be modified without consideration to all the other media. Someone in the dealership, perhaps your Internet sales manager or eCommerce director, needs to be responsible for the maintenance and oversight of all of your content. This content comprises your complete automotive digital marketing strategy and therefore can’t be taken seriously enough.
To keep up with the speed of the digital world, you have to have a plan. Not just a weekly or monthly plan, but a far stretching and flexible one. Something agreed upon by everyone involved with your content that identifies where areas and types of content exist, what they contain, who’s responsible for them, and when they need to be updated or removed, etc. That means you need your Internet sales directors, general managers, dealer principal, office personnel, marketing firms, advertising providers, web site providers, and inventory streams all on the same page.
You may not readily recognize that as soon as your web site goes live, it’s a living, breathing thing that has to be fed. But, as one of the nation’s top content strategists, Kristina Halvorson, put it, “The moment you launch a web site, you’re a publisher. The moment you begin a blog, send an email, participate in social media, build a widget, even show up in search engine results… you’re a publisher,” (Content Strategy for the Web, p.21).
Did you plan on being in the publication business? Probably not. But now you are. Much like traditional print or television media, there are web site platforms from which to promote your vehicles, communicate with your community, voice your opinions and concerns, and put your overall brand message out into the public eye. The only differences between now and the days of print are that it all occurs a lot faster, and across a lot more locations.
As Joe put it, you should make sure you’re educating, engaging, and updating your content, to get the most out of it. Now that you’ve got a solid content strategy in place, you are set to serve your customers, pique search engine interest, and present your brand in all places.