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Saturday, November 03, 2012

Changing Dealer Website Providers

After a lengthy process of restructuring our company website, I was thinking about how much a car dealer normally has to go through to switch website providers, and unfortunately the answer is "not much" with most providers. I say "unfortunately" because by not doing things properly, the dealer's website can take a big hit in the search engine results and rankings. It takes a lot of work to do things properly, and because dealers typically don't know any better, they trust their new provider will do it the right way. Providers can get away with not spending the extra time/effort and 99% of the time the dealer will never know, but as a reputable dealer website provider, Higher Turnover insists on doing things the right way whenever possible.

Usually a websites URL structure (the names of the pages) will change from one provider to the next. Someone may have an inventory page as "inventory" while another may have it as "vehicles" or something else. Pages get indexed in search engines, and if the appropriate steps aren't taken, all of your search results could be useless. Imagine your old provider has your vehicles at www.yoursite.com/inventory and that's the way your vehicles are indexed (included) in the search results. If you switch to a provider who uses a different URL, for example www.yoursite.com/vehicles, the visitor who clicks on your indexed link in the search results will likely be taken to an error page because the page they were taken to no longer exists.

Some things to put in place to avoid these problems are uploading a new sitemap to the search engines (which lets them know what pages currently exist on your site) and automatically redirecting all old URL's to the corresponding new pages. These are relatively simple things to do which help you retain search engine rankings, and perhaps more importantly help your customers actually get to your new site when they click on a link in the search results. If you're considering a switch from one dealer website provider to another, make sure they are accountable for making your transition a smooth and PROPER one.

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