Posts Tagged ‘Tips For SEO’

ClickMotive Wins Peak Performance Automotive Website Award (AWA) For Search Marketing

November 12, 2010

PCG Digital Marketing announced that ClickMotive was chosen to receive a Pinnacle 2010 Automotive Website Award (AWA) for search marketing. The awards were presented to the leading automotive website companies at the AWA breakfast ceremony in Las Vegas.

The Pinnacle award is the highest recognition the AWA provides in the AWA Search Marketing category. The companies receiving this award have designed and delivered search compliant websites that stood above their peers. Pinnacle Platform winners deliver outstanding digital marketing platforms for dealers that will provide clients with a strong competitive advantage online and will enable dealers to create an unfair competitive advantage in their local markets. The ClickMotive platform reached the pinnacle for scoring in the AWA benchmarks and live testing, and is why we were selected for this prestigious award.

The 2010 AWA Whitepaper stated that “ClickMotive takes a different approach on the design of their inventory pages. Their sub-directory structure is not traditional but effective.” What this statement says is that we went additional lengths to ensure that we are using a directory structure that organizes our content well and makes it easy for visitors and search engines to know exactly where they are and what they are looking at on our sites.

The 3rd annual Automotive Website Awards (AWA) was created by PCG Digital Marketing, recognized leaders in automotive digital marketing strategies. For 2010, PCG Digital Marketing recognized the industry’s best website platforms across three different categories: design, technology and search marketing.

The Automotive Website Awards seek to provide car dealers with an unbiased evaluation of automotive website platforms and integrated search marketing tools. The 2010 AWA study included a review of over 50 automotive website providers.

This year’s published study includes 160 pages of valuable information regarding automotive website platform choices, search marketing performance, design and technology. The report is the industry’s reference guide for the best in automotive website technology and design.

To download a full PDF version of the Automotive Website Awards study, please go to .


Not-So-Friendly URLs

October 29, 2010

You may think your website has Friendly URLs – let’s stack it up to what Google says and expects.

There is a lot of confusion in the automotive industry around the definition of a friendly URL.  Many dealers (and website providers) seem to think that if you stuff a bunch of keywords into a URL, that this somehow makes it “friendly”.

When you stack this up besides what Google actually recommends, you can see a big difference!  Very recently (2010) Google published a 32 page book called the Search Engine Optimization Start Guide to help clarify some of the dreadful misinformation that exists in the SEO community.  Although this book, as its name implies, is only a “starter guide”- it is embarrassing how many websites don’t even follow the simple rules found in it.

If you are a car dealer – take a look at your own website and see how well it stacks up to some of these recommendations from the ultimate authority – Google themselves!

The information on friendly URLs begins on page 8 of the book.  Here are a few of the highlights if you don’t have time to read it for yourself:

  • Visitors may be intimidated by extremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words
  • If your URL contains relevant words, this provides user and search engines with more information about the page
  • Avoid using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
  • Avoid choosing generic page names like “Page1.html”
  • Avoid using excessive keywords like “baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.htm”
  • Create a simple directory structure – Using a directory structure that organizes your content well and makes it easy for visitors to know where they’re at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL
  • Avoid having deep nesting of subdirectories like “…/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/page.html”
  • Avoid using directory names that have no relation to the content in them

For those of you who aren’t as technical – there’s one detail worth mentioning here.  When this book talks about “directories” or “folders”- it means words separated by a “/”character in a web address or URL.  The “/” character has a very special meaning to computers.  It is very different from a “plus” (+), a “dash”(-), and “underscore”(_), a “question mark”(?), an “ampersand”(&), a “pound sign”(#) or other characters you might see in a URL.  Only the slash (/) implies the organization that Google and others are looking for in this book.

Even at that, the “/” character also should mean that if you chop off the URL just before or after the slash, you should get meaningful content.  If this doesn’t work correctly, the slash character is as meaningless as the others mentioned above.

The example that Google uses to drive this home is from a fictional baseball card site – although the analogy to a car dealer website is pretty easy to see.  Here’s what the baseball directory structure looks like:

Some Bad Examples

Now, let’s take a look at some good & bad examples found in on car dealer websites (surveyed now in November 2010).  The dealer domain names and vendors have been removed to protect the innocent and the guilty.  I hate to point it out – but these ARE from some of the very most popular dealer website providers on the market.

Bad Example #1



There is so much wrong with this, it’s hard to begin!  Not only is the word “details” meaningless and never searched, if you try to visit the details folder on this particular site – it returns an error!  Car buyers may not do this – but a Google spider will.  All the “+” signs do nothing to create structure.  The VIN right in the middle (separating the trim) is just sloppy.  The “%20” is a rookie mistake from leaving a space in a URL.  There is also no location anywhere in the URL – this could be a car in Boston or Bangladesh!

Bad Example #2



You might think that the “new-inventory” folder is good structure – unless you tried to visit it on this dealer’s website – it returned an error.  This vendor & dealer have used underscore (_) characters to improve readability – but they do not add any structure.  Again, we have a big ugly VIN and the meaningless “.aspx” just looks geeky and intimidating.  The location is conspicuously absent again.

Bad Example #3



On the surface, there seems to be some good in this one – but once again – a search engine spider will see right through it.   The VIN is intimidating – could be mistaken for a SessionId or other meaningless text Google warns against.  The word  “Acura” is in the URL twice – Google warns against this.  Finally, and worst of all, if you try to visit the folders, you get some terrifying results.  For example, the path /new/Acura returned a broken page and just /new returned the home page.  Once again – we have no idea where this car is.

Bad Example #4



You should be getting the hang of this by now.  It’s easy to spot the many problems with this format.  For example, the word “web” has no value.  The word “vehicle” has very little value (no one types it!).  Your guess is as good as mine why there is a folder (fake at that) called 582248.  After that we get keywords stuffed together with dashes – and worse – lots of %20 characters.  Once again, this is what happens when a website doesn’t care enough to remove spaces from the URLs – it is a problem that has been around since the beginning of the internet and some people still don’t get it.  You have to admit – it looks pretty scary.   Now – imagine you are a car buyer.  How do you feel about a car that has been marked with “condition_Id=10425”- is that some kind of inidicator as to what its condition is (perhaps damaged?)  We just don’t  know – but it does nothing to make the URL more friendly.

Now things go downhill fast on this site.

Visiting just part of the URL causes all kinds of problems:

/web/vehicle/582248 – returns the same page as the full URL – this is called duplicate content and Google does not like it

/web/vehicle – returns a listing of all used inventory – not bad except that the vehicle we were looking at earlier was new!

/web – returns a blank template page

Some Good Examples

Here, I will name names – these folks deserve some recognition for their efforts.  It probably goes without saying – but building out a folder structure, like Google recommends, is much more labor intensive and expensive.  That’s probably why so many sites just stuff keywords into file names and hope people think this makes them “friendly”.  You will notice that all of these except one is a national aggregator – these guys often spend the big bucks to do technology right.  You may find yourself competing for them in search engine rankings too.  Don’t worry,  there’s an honest, but self-serving plug for ClickMotive Fusion websites in this section too.

Good Example #1 ––TX

Good use of folders.  Location included.  No mystery characters.  Has good “buying words” like “for-sale”.  About the only valid critiques ere would be that the Tahoe is a truck – and it’s located under the  “cars” folder.  This is not bad – and may be intentional since many people refer to cars, trucks, SUVs,  vans,  etc. collectively as just  “cars”.

This structure also goes away when you actually visit a specific unit – but again – this is a very good example.

Good Example #2 – (and a bad example too)

Wow – this is clean!  Easy to see just what you’re going to get if you go to any of these folders – and they all actually work!  This is the research section of this site.  When you actually search inventory – the URLs are not nearly as nice.  Here’s one:

Good Example #3 – ClickMotive Fusion

Here I’ve used a San Antonio based Ford dealership running on ClickMotive Fusion.  I feel obliged to point out that ClickMotive Fusion Mobile runs on the same platform – so it will have a folder structure and friendly URLs that are similar to the desktop sites – this is extremely rare with mobile websites.  Let’s take apart the URL:–Black-Truck/3302213/

Notice, there are still keywords present – that’s needed for the search engine to understand what a single page is about – but notice that the URL itself is organized into a meaningful folder structure.  The one cryptic number is way out to the right – and as short as it can be (not a VIN!).

If you remove portions of the URL, it helps the spider understand not just what the page is about, but how it is related to other pages in the site.  For example, the URL above can be chopped off one folder at a time to produce results like this: this returns all new Ford F-150s – this returns all new Fords – this returns all new Ford trucks – this returns all new inventory

In future versions, we plan to have /San-Antonio/For-Sale return the sales department page and just /San-Antonio will return the map page.   These features are still under development, but in the meantime, these pages do a Google-recommended  “301-redirect”- that means, we tell the spider I computer language how to navigate correctly from this folder without producing any duplicate content, blank template pages, or error messages.


Now you should be able to understand what Google means when it says “friendly URLs”- it may be very different from what you have on your website or what your vendor says a friendly URL is.  The reasons to make sure your website has friendly URLs are very clear!

  • Google says it’s the best way to do it
  • Consumers are not confused or intimidated by scary URLs
  • It’s easier to make third-part links to relevant material inside your site for link building campaigns

And, there are plenty of reasons to avoid using a site that does not follow these rules:

  • When Google detects abuse of a feature, it has been known to change its algorithm to decrease rankings or remove websites that have this abuse detected.  Google pointed out that lots-of-words-separated-by-dashes-to-create-content is not the right way to go.  If they ever decide to downgrade sites with an algorithm, my money is that they will hit the ones that have the most characters like -, +, _, ?, &, etc.  The only character that’s safe is the “/”- which means organizing folder
  • Google does not publish their ranking algorithms, but it is well known (and stated outright by Google) that organization of the site can play a role in it.  To be organized, this means the folders in the URL must mean something.  That means they must return meaningful content when you visit them.  Whether car buyers do this or not is not of concern.  The spiders will do it – and the spiders need to like what they see to keep them from thinking this is an unprofessional, badly organized site.

If you would like to see even more examples of how ClickMotive Fusion uses real friendly URLs and not just keyword stuffed filenames – contact our sales department for a free demo by calling 888-518-5513.

Search Engine Friendly URLs

April 8, 2010

For today’s Automotive Websites, database driven or dynamic sites have become an industry standard. Unfortunately for Automotive dealers, these types of sites use really strange looking web addresses containing things called “query strings” to pass information between pages. For Search Engines, these types of URLs have no relevant information about the content on the page, and do no good from an SEO perspective.

By looking at the URL below you will see that this is a vehicle page with a URL based on dynamic parameters, but this displays little information of any real meaning to Search Engine spiders.

Example of an Unfriendly URL:

ClickMotive combats this by using “Friendly URLs” with rich keywords and content Search Engine spiders can read. The example below would be much more relevant to Search Engines for a New 2010 Toyota Camry for Sale in Richardson than the previous example.

Example of a Friendly URL:

SEO-friendly URLs contain words and proper filenames, and they don’t contain special characters or spaces (when necessary dashes are used to separate words). Using SEO-friendly URLs can dramatically improve your organic search rankings simply because they emphasize keywords that actually mean something and are easier to index than numbers and strings.

When a Search Engine spider comes across a symbol such as a question mark (?), then the engine perceives the symbol as a dynamic parameter. Because of this, they may not be able to assign any relevance to the URL itself since it may not contain any valuable, indexable information.

By clearly specifying the domain name, location, and vehicle information, the consumer knows which site they are on, what vehicle they are looking at, and where it is located. So in other words, the URL actually makes sense and means something. In comparison to an unfriendly URL which contains virtually no useful elements to a consumer or to a Search Engine spider, the friendly URL encompasses all the requirements necessary to help achieve good rankings on Search Engine result pages.

The first task was creating a directory structure that not only made sense but also worked. If you are on a vehicle page like the example above, and want to navigate back to all the new Toyota’s for sale, then just simply delete the vehicle portion of the URL, and the site will take you back to all the New Toyota’s in the dealer’s inventory.

We then developed a file naming system to optimize for not only SEO, but for usability. We studied Google Trends to find out what words car buyers used and simply used those terms when naming the directories that make up the URL. At first glance you might think that it makes sense to call the directory with inventory “Inventory”, but car buyers don’t search for “New Toyota Camry Inventory in Richardson”, instead they type “New Toyota Camry for Sale in Richardson”.

We also are adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for recommendations on proper URL structure. The URL structure of a FUSION™ Website is simple, concise, and the content is organized so that URLs are constructed logically in a manner that is readable by humans.   Be careful with other website providers who might just stuff a lot of keywords into a file name with no organization structure.  This sort of activity may not work for long as search engines get more sophisticated.  At ClickMotive, we don’t take short cuts for trendy SEO fads – we put in the hard work to produce results for the long run.

Because we feel that a dealer’s inventory is the most important, most viewed, most searched, and most crawled content on a car dealer’s website, we updated that page class first with this friendlier URL structure. Stay tuned in and we will keep you updated on our progress as we build out the rest of the Friendlier URLs throughout all of FUSION™.

SEO Magic!

March 4, 2010

Lots of people ask how it is that ClickMotive FUSION™ Websites can so easily run circles around other websites when it comes to SEO.

The truth is – there is not a secret sauce.  Anyone who tells you there is a secret sauce is probably just a flimflam artist ready to take your money.

For many years now, ClickMotive has been honing its SEO processes to create not just SEO techniques or practices – but a full “SEO Architecture”.  SEO is baked into the ClickMotive FUSION™ site – it’s such an integral part of the architecture – it can’t be turned off (unlike some of our competitors who disable their “SEO features” until you pay them more money).  Here are a few things that we do that help make our SEO something special.  We don’t mind publishing and sharing these ideas because many other providers would have to re-write their product from the ground up to use them.

Consumer Heuristic Content

Yes, that’s a mouthful.  Here’s what it means.  There is a fundamental disconnect between the words car buyers use to shop online and the words that appear on dealer websites.

As you can see in the diagram above, the only way you can turn up on a search engine result page is if the words on your website overlap with the words car buyers actually type.  Here are a few examples:

What Dealers Want To Say on their Websites What Car Buyers Want To Find on Search Engines
Quality Pre-owned Inventory Cheap Cars
Trucks Pick-Ups & Pickups
Chevrolet Chevy
Candy-Apple, Midnight Forest, and Alpine Red, Green, and White
Pre-owned Vehicles Used Cars
“Welcome to our virtual showroom” Location
Dealership Dealer, Dealers

There are hundreds of other examples – I imagine you can think of quite a few on your own . At ClickMotive, we seed dealer websites with consumer-friendly language and links.  Our title tags, content, links, and Meta descriptions and other key elements are filled with the language we learned by investing more than a million dollars in consumer behavior research.  If you look around, you’ll find words like “cheap cars” (it’s on a rotating link that goes to our “Bargain Lot” auto-special), pick-ups (in meta-content on truck research pages), dealer & dealers (as well as dealership) (on key pages like “Contact Us” and “Map & Location”).  We add the “consumer-friendly” color of every vehicle on your lot to the title tag on the vehicle page, along with a generic product description (something like “black truck”).

When car buyers search for these terms, your ClickMotive FUSION™ Dealer Website stands a better chance of ranking because the words are actually on the page!

Multi-Dimensional Link Themes and Semantic Content

Again – it’s some big 50 cent words that were expensive to develop – but quite effective at helping search engine spiders find the important parts of your website.

Many websites are shallow, 1-dimensional products where everything links to everything.  Some providers even sell this as a feature!  Spiders often need a little extra help to understand how a website is organized – this is done through a technical process called “link themes” – and it takes some hard work to make it happen!  Fortunately, it’s built into ClickMotive FUSION™ and it works automatically for all dealers who use it.  Unlike some other providers, it can’t be “turned off” if you don’t pay for it.  It’s built in.

Some providers out there actually seem to think that by putting some footer links and hidden content on the home page that they can somehow improve SEO!  That’s nothing short of ludicrous (not to mention, a pretty mean rip-off).  What they’ve tricked dealers into believing is that SEO has anything to do with your “home page”.  Google’s spiders only seem to take about the first 100 or so links on any page seriously.  Duplicate links to the same page do NOTHING to improve SEO.

The right way to do it (and yes, this is built-in to ClickMotive FUSION™ Dealer Websites) is to make sure the first links on  your page are to the most critical areas of the site – and that the links from those pages branch to other related pages.  Just like a human – a spider doesn’t want to see everything you sell.  It wants to be given some major categories that lead to greater and greater detail.  ClickMotive uses a feature called “Semantic Content Markup” to organize the page content into logical categories and point spiders to increasing level of detail.

While many websites just look like a long warehouse full of chaotically strewn products– a FUSION™ Dealer Website looks like a well-organized shopping center.

Intelligent Snippet Generation

The black letter text you see on a search engine result page is sometimes called a “snippet”.  Poorly designed websites will often have what the industry jokingly calls a “Franken-snippet” – because it’s made of jumbled parts and pieces of the website – bunched together to get as many keywords as possible.  This is how the amateurs, phonies, and wanna-be’s do it.

The right way to do it is to ensure the spider gets a coded message that tells it (in plain English) what to include in the snippet to keep it looking neat, clean, and relevant.    We even go to extra lengths to ensure that important things that car-buyers want shows up in these results – phone numbers, and address are right at the top of their list. Think about it – you use Google as a “white pages” from time to time, don’t you?

Studies show that these types of results are often clicked – even more-so than results that occur ABOVE them on the page!  Being #1 isn’t everything.  Getting clicked or called is what counts.

SEO Results Improved Again

February 10, 2010

Free & new feature in ClickMotive Fusion improves SEO effectiveness

Released: January 28, 2010

As always, the world of marketed SEO “Services” for car dealers is filled with misinformation!

Here’s a chance to set some of the record straight and show another way that ClickMotive leads the pack in SEO innovations.

You may have heard that “meta” tags are important for SEO.  Then you may have heard that “meta” tags are NOT important for SEO.  Here’s a simple explanation that tells you everything you need to know.

A “meta” tag is a bit of code on a webpage that you can’t see in a browser.  There are lots of different kinds of meta tags.  Two in particular have a relationship to SEO.

One is called the meta keywords tag.  It contains a list of keywords that your site is about.  It was important to SEO back in the 1990s before people started using it to cheat.  No search engines today pay any attention to meta keywords any more.  If you have an SEO “consultant” trying to sell you services that include improving your meta keywords – fire them.   They’re only taking your money and adding no value.  If they can’t get this simple thing right – how can you trust them on anything else.  The same goes for any online “grading” tool for SEO.  Remember – the industry is full of fraud and scams!

The other meta tag related to SEO is the meta description tag.  Long ago, this tag was important for SEO, but once again, since it was not visible, unscrupulous people used it to cheat, and the search engines started ignoring it.  But then, more recently, Google and other search engines started displaying the content of meta description tags in their search engine results.   The black-colored text that you see under the blue-colored link on a Google search engine result page will often (although not always) come from a meta description tag.  Most experts agree that this text has little to no influence on how high you appear in the search results, but it does influence what your link looks like.

At ClickMotive – we took these even further for our customers!

Many SEO experts have measured the effects of what this text says – and it can make a huge difference.  For example, if the black text is garbled, stuffed with keywords, or not straight-forward English, it decreases the perception of professionalism and trust.

Even better – if the text actually tells you what to do – if it contains a “Call To Action” it can dramatically influence the click-through rate!  Some studies have shown that results way down the page with better written text are actually more clickable than results further up the page!  Imagine that – being on top isn’t everything – it’s getting clicked that counts!

Here are some examples from a simulated search for a “Toyota Tundra in San Antonio”

This sample search engine result had little consideration given to its title tags or its meta description.  The result, a confusing mess with lots of “…” and covering just about everything BUT the Tundra!

Lloyd ToyotaSan Antonio area Toyota dealer in San Antonio
Lloyd Toyota in San Antonio Texas with internet specials on new and used Toyota … on any new Toyota 4Runner, Avalon, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Camry Solara, …

Now, look at this result – notice it’s clean (no “…”) and tells you exactly what you’re supposed to do (“Check it out”).

New 2010 Toyota Tundra 4WD  (Gray Truck) San Antonio.
Check out this New 2010 Toyota Tundra 4WD CrewMax Short Bed 4.6L Grade (Gray Truck) from Myers Toyota of San Antonio serving San Antonio. This vehicle is currently available in-stock to buy now.

Every ClickMotive Fusion search engine result meta description has been re-written to contain positive “call-to-action” language.  Over the next few weeks, this will make its way into the search engines, so watch for results that look like the ones below –  notice each one has a “call to action” designed to improve click-through.

Visit the Official Site of Myers Toyota, selling Toyota in Plano, Texas and Serving DFW Area.

Shop now for New Toyota Cars for Sale in San Antonio. See the currently-available in-stock units to buy now.

Watch Myers Toyota Virtual Tour Research Videos from Myers Toyota in San Plano, Texas, serving DFW.

Take advantage of Specials at Myers Toyota in Plano, Texas, serving DFW. Check out our great Specials for online customers in all our different departments

As always, neither ClickMotive nor any other company can control the results displayed by Google & other search engines – but through constant research and development, we can work hard to improve the results.

At ClickMotive, we never stop innovating for our customers – new features come online every month.  Check back here often for information on the newest features.

Targeting the “Wallet Out” Car Buyer

January 26, 2010

New SEO Feature in ClickMotive FUSION™ Dealer Websites

ClickMotive has released yet another game-changing SEO feature – free to all its customers and available online today!

SEO is tricky business – often much more art than science! At ClickMotive, we never stop innovating to find more ways to get you more traffic – and better traffic through search engines.  Lots of consultants and dealers will shortsightedly concentrate all their efforts on optimizing for just a few big keywords – words like the manufacturer of cars they sell and their city.  While you should certainly put some effort into this area – if you check your traffic reports – you will quickly see that less than half your traffic comes from phrases like these.

Where does the rest come from?  It’s a giant category sometimes just called “other”.  SEO Experts call these “Tail Searches” – and almost every website in the world gets 50% of its traffic from these.

If you look through some of the tail searches on your traffic report – you’ll quickly see there are 2 kinds of tail search – car buyers and tire kickers.  Every good car sales person knows where to put the effort – find the buyers first and get them what they want!

When car buyers use search engines, they often discover that if they only type a few words – they don’t find what they want.  If they type more words – the results get better.  One way that car buyers indicate that they’re ready to buy is by adding what SEO Experts call a “wallet out” phrase to their search.  One of the most popular wallet-out phrases is “Shopping for…”.

So, if a car buyer goes to Google and just types:

“Toyota Camry Dallas”

– There’s a good chance they’ll find the local enthusiast club, some tedious blog articles, and some re-sellers.  This is not what they want – they’re looking for Inventory – available, in-stock, for sale, now!

The better search term, as more & more search engine users are learning is something like:

“Shopping for Toyota Camry Dallas”

Every ClickMotive Fusion web page that offers a vehicle for sale has words added to its content to target the “wallet out” searcher.  Words like “Shopping For”, “For Sale”, “Inventory”, etc.  Most other dealer websites do not.

No one can guarantee performance for any phrase on Google.  But one thing is for sure – if the words aren’t on the page – you won’t get found and ranked.  Only by researching and targeting the behavior of car buyers will you get this kind of content that leads to these kinds of results?

Mutliple Domain Names for the Same Site

January 6, 2010

Some players in the automotive space have taken to applying more than one (typically around 5 with catchy brand names applied) keyword-rich domain names that point to different sections of the same business website.

Sadly, misinformation abounds in the industry, and some otherwise intelligent decision makers are falling for this.

Here is some advice to help the industry navigate these tricky tactics.

The following quotes and articles are taken from Google Support Forms designed for responsible webmasters.  These are not the opinions of ClickMotive – although we do agree with the assessments presented.

Article Title: Can I Report Competitor Using Two Websites for Same Business?

Google doesn’t really want to list the same business multiple times, for fear of the poor user experience…. So you’ve got their algorithms actively working against you too. If you’re lucky they’ll chuck out the duplicate sites and leave your main one in. If you’re unlucky they’ll chuck out ALL of your sites!

So don’t do it, and don’t worry too much if your competitors do it…


Article Title: Multiple domain names pointing to same site: bad SEO practice

What do you call this?: Fairly stupid


These quotes are from other experts regarding multiple domain names with a subset of site content:

They are search engine spam and can get a website penalized or banned.

Will they work? In the short term, maybe. For long tail keywords probably, but not for your more competitive terms. The less competitive terms you could target just as easily by working them into your real pages.
But you’d still be much better served to get your keywords worked into real pages of the site somehow. Those will pull traffic both in the short and long term.

I think that they can be successful, but they’re too risky and can get your site banned. If you’re going to the trouble of using content-rich doorway pages, why not simply put that effort into making the actual site content-rich?


Danger! Multiple domain names, 1 site – why it is bad

I consider registering more than one domain a bit pointless

…the practice can have insidious side effects – you can actually shoot yourself in the foot.

You end up with four sites with a quarter of the links they should have rather than one strong site that aggregates all the power of the incoming links in one place – end result? You don’t rank as well as you could.

Avoiding SEO Scams and Rip-Offs

November 19, 2009

8 Useful Tips & Tricks to keep from getting ripped off in the tricky world of SEO

By Ray Myers, CTO, ClickMotive

SEO is one of the hottest topics among dealers these days – and all the rip-off artists know it.  They also know that most people are a little mystified by SEO and easily fall for all sorts of claims.  I’m here to say – BE CAREFUL! There are cons and scams and rip-offs everywhere.  I’ll go out on a limb and guess there are as many rip-off SEO “experts” as there are good ones.

We got an interesting letter in the mail this week.  It was intended for one of our dealerships, but accidentally got sent to us.  It’s scanned and attached to this article.  It’s from a company called “Web Listings Inc”.   It says things like Annual Website Search Engine Listing From Nov 30, 2009 thru Nov30, 2010. It looks exactly like a bill for $65.

Look over the scanned document.  If your dealership’s accounts payable department got it – what would they think.  My guess is they would think “it’s only $65 and it sounds important for our website”.  Rubber stamp.  Cut the Check.  Mail it.

Now, I’ll admit – with this particular example, you’ve only lost $65 – but it’s a great indication of the kind of problems that go on out there.  Elsewhere on the page, it says “This is not a bill.  This is a solicitation.”  Good for them.  This keeps them from falling into being defined as mail fraud – I should know, back in 2005 I served as an expert witness in a federal mail-fraud case against – you guessed it – a scam artist selling SEO services to car dealers.

Google warns against this – here’s are some quotes and thoughts adapted from their Webmaster Guidelines:

Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site.

While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate Google guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site’s presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from Google results! Here are some things to consider to help keep you from getting tricked by a scam artist:

1. Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

2. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through Google’s  Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and ClickMotive does this for you  at no cost whatsoever.

3. Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.

Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Unfortunately, ClickMotive cannot help you to overcome the actions of any third party SEO companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you. Before you give ANYONE permission to use FusionTools to modify your content, they should be willing to explain all the changes they are making to your site.

4. You should never have to link to an SEO.

Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of “free-for-all” links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines — at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.

5. Choose wisely.

While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that, of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press, including this article on one particularly aggressive SEO:

While Google doesn’t comment on specific companies, we’ve encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior.  Be careful!

6. Be sure to understand where the money goes.

While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they “control” other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn’t work with Google because advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you’re considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.

7. What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?

One common scam is the creation of “shadow” domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client’s behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor’s domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.

Another illicit practice is to place “doorway” pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO’s other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.

8. What are some other things to look out for?

There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It’s far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts.  By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:

  1. owns shadow domains
  2. puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
  3. offers to sell keywords in the address bar
  4. doesn’t distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear on search results pages
  5. guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
  6. operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
  7. gets traffic from “fake” search engines, spyware, or scumware
  8. has had domains removed from Google’s index or is not itself listed in Google

If you feel that you were deceived by an SEO in some way, you may want to report it.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit: and click on “File a Complaint Online,” call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to:

Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580

ClickMotive also offers professional services for responsible content creation, link building and other advanced SEO services.  Feel  free to contact us at 888-262-9275 or at for more information.