Free Blog Hosts – Do they have any obligation?

Free blog hosts have a vested interest in bringing traffic to their platforms.  The only source of monetizing is upgrades and advertising.  The three major players in free platforms are WordPress.com, Blogger.com and Vox.com.

  • WordPress.com is where this blog is hosted and is owned by Automattic.  The terms of service are pretty clear and thy proactively work to keep their platform clean.  The content here is monetized by advertising, which many users do not see.
  • Blogger.com is owned by Google.  They have a terms of service but their platform is not policed well at all.  They monetize by making it easy for individuals to acquire adsense accounts and they do some domain sales in their back end.
  • Vox.com is owned by Six Apart.  Their terms of service are fairly vague and i not policed at all.  It looks like they sell advertising space on various places around their site but it does not appear on individual blogs.

I did a recent post at Vox about how their platform was being abused to tarnish the reputation of a car dealer.  I even notified Six Apart and they have done nothing to remove the content there.

What was funny about this particular blog is it was put up by a competitor without them doing a very good job of trying to hide it, other than a vehement denial.  There are many anchor links through out the content pointing to marketing materials of one dealer basically trashing another.

Marlboro Nissan Bad NettiquetteIts a shame Six Apart will not do anything about this but do they really have an obligation to do so?

Traffic is how they monetize their site and to me it looks like they are putting dollars in before decency.  They defiantly do not have a “Do no evil” policy apparently the dealer in question does not either.  I did a post about this at Drivingsales.com and the feedback received there by other professionals in the auto industry pretty much aligned with my views.  “Is All Fair in Love and Business?”

Leave your opinion or examples below.

Increase Conversions – Keep Your Visitors

I have been working with a Cincinnati Ford dealer and one of the small changes we made to their site was to remove auto played audio from their site. What this did for them was increase their website conversions 4 fold. The highest traffic periods for any website that would have consumer appeal is during normal working hours.

If somebody is shopping for a car while at work the last thing they need is for an auto played video with sound to let everyone in their office know that they are car shopping instead of working. While this is more than just automotive seo it is conversion tracking and conversions is where it is at.

To help increase local traffic you really need many supporting properties that will help increase traffic and link relevance.  One of the things that we are starting is several supporting blogs to help drive link relevance like this one about Domestic automotive news.

While it does take some time to build up authority on sites like this just remember it is if you take the time to work up a slow build like this it will provide for an unstoppable search engine presence that will never be out ran.

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Building a Business from Networking

I have completely built a profitable business via online networking.  It is amazing that I have done this without creating much marketing material, it demonstrates the power of networking.

I probably have not followed any of the best practices claimed by many of the internet gurus.  I work my ass off in my network and on delivering results to my clients and now have 4 employees and 24 clients direct and 15 indirect.  If you would of asked me a year ago if this could happen I would of gave a resounding no.

I think the biggest reason this came about is by being a contributor first, helping others meet their challenges without expecting anything in return.  The second most important thing to contribute to this success has been my willingness to put my neck out there and call a spade a spade.

The latter reason has probably created some enemies in the automotive marketing niche and at the same time has gained the respect of many more.  The difference is the ones who have acquired an admiration of sorts are the ones who are my potential clients the ones it has incited view me as a threat to their business model even if we are not competitors.

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Social Promotion, Marketing and Collaboration in the Car Business

Lately I have been spending a lot of time networking online.  I have actually have built a client base just from online networking and have yet to spend anytime building a business website.  My blog about Automotive SEO really gets me more business than I can reasonable handle in that regards.

One thing that the car business does not do well is get along at all levels but recently I helped a friend of mine who is a quasi competitor on a certain product increase their exposure on a product we do not compete on, their Automotive CRM Software.

When I discussed this with another constituent they told me I was crazy, but that is what the car business needs to understand.  Scratching each others back actually provides more value for everyone than just trying to go it alone.  Unfortunately many choose to go in that direction and alienate any chance of getting help from others.

A good example of that is when dealer.com got upset about my article about automotive search engine marketing.  They reached out to me to reach an agreement and then just left the ball in the air.  Possible because they are just arrogant as hell and do not want to admit faults in their marketing pitches.

On another note I have been using twitter a lot here lately and have made some great contacts outside of the automotive vertical and now see opportunities that abound everywhere.

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The Auto Industry – How will it emerge from this?

The automotive industry has always been a slow adopter of new things and the recent hoopla in the news is forcing everyone to take a closer look at how they are going to proceed in the coming year.  My personal business has really increased quite dramatically over the last month as car dealers are looking for inexpensive effective ways to reach more consumers.

While much of what is being touted as education to dealers on online marketing is really over aggressive marketing tactics.  Just as dealers and manufactures are being forced to make changes the online vendors will have to learn to march to a new tune as well.

Recently I blogged about dealer search engine marketing and pointed out a huge fallacy in a marketing pitches, that SEO takes ages.  It is as close to a blog post ever going viral in the auto industry.  Other bloggers picked up on the story and gave their perspective as well.

Here are some other post that reference my origianl post:

While I do beleive search engine marketing does have it’s place in a car dealers arsenol if it is executed properly and for the right reasons it should not be relied upon as their main online traffic source.

What the vendors need to realize is that the changes that will come about in their niche is dealers will not tolerate some of the things hey have in the past.  Long gone will be the multi year contracts for websites and advertising sources as dealers look for more cost effective ways to market their business online.

As these contracts expire if the vendor is not willing to offer month to month terms after that they will be in for a rude awakening as dealers seek other alternatives.  With the cost of web design being inexpesive and many open source cms systems available to power them dealers will no longer need to be spoon fed one size fits all solutions and truely differentiate themselves in their own market area.  Kinda like Beechmont Ford is doing.

Experiementing with localized affiliate marketing

In my previous post I mentioned my domain portfolio and now have decided to put some of them to good use.  I just created a site using wordpress as a CMS to try and gather local search engine traffic for people looking for a Brunswick Car Dealers.  Not so sure how well it will work mainly because there is not much search volume in for car dealers in my local Brunswick market.

Using wordpress software for affiliate marketing is nothing new.  People have been doing it for years.  I plan on using data extracted from this test to see how well it will work for dealer alternatives to micro sites.  I feel that it will provide more value for them and give them a better penetration in to the search eningies if they can look at it from the right perspective.

My plan is to have a theme designed to be advertising centric to allow them to have landing pages that highlight current advertisements and specials while at the same time offering archive capabilities.  Like Imakenews on wordpress.

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A wake up call of sorts – My Domain Portfolio

I am a domain junky. To bad there is not a 12 step club for people like me. I recently had a conversation with a new online acquiescence, Randy Charach, about my domain portfolio. From the best i could tell he is not actively domaining anymore he still gave me some god tips on how to best use my portfolio.

While I am not going to get into the tips Randy gave me it is still good to know that some of my content that I have out there on the web still works. I dabble some in affiliate marketing but the main thing I do now is SEO and I just started a new service that helps car dealers use craigslist.

Some of the things that I gathered from mine and his conversation is that if you have domains sitting you are better off to move them away from the parking pages that the domain registrars set them on by default.  The sad thing is I have over 500 domains and it would take a few days to move them around to different place to monetize them.

I guess I need to break down and sell off a few or work on developing them.  However for now I may just have to be happy with doing nothing and working on building my business.

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