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2017 Technology Newsmaker Q&A Jason Lancaster

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 07:00
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Earlier this year, Spork Marketing released a white paper on search engine optimization (SEO) for the auto parts industry, targeted specifically at busy executives.

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Spork President Jason Lancaster spoke to Aftermarket Business World about SEO challenges.

What are the biggest challenges in SEO, and are there any that are specific to aftermarket auto parts marketing?

SEO best practices change over time, but they really aren’t any different now than they were 10 years ago. One of the biggest challenges with decision makers is that they assume whatever it is that needs done is a technical issue, or that some alteration of their website will make everything better.

The root foundations of success have not changed. You have to create a good experience for the user with good information, you have to make sure your content is interesting, useful and helpful. You have to make sure your website is usable. That’s the key – make something great for the user.

The biggest challenge in the aftermarket is that everyone is using the same data from the manufacturers. You’re just creating clones of the same content with the same images of the same part. It makes it hard to stand out.

Many aftermarket companies are relatively new to e-commerce. Do you see a steep learning curve in this market?

The best way to figure out SEO is to implement it and do some testing. There is a learning curve if you are trying to understand every aspect of SEO. But if they are approaching it less as a technical discipline and more of a strategic question, then it’s simple.

What are some of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to SEO?

At the manufacturer level the blind spot is creating lots of great data that makes it easy for retailers to sell your product. That looks like a burden. Giving retailers product photos both in and out of the box, or providing multiple angles of product photos sounds like an expense.

But that helps the retailer sell product. They need to view data investment less as a cost of doing business and more as an opportunity. It helps their product stand out.

At a retailer level, I think the big mistake that everyone is making is that there is some magical solution to ranking on Google. Part of the problem is history. It used to be possible to make a few adjustments to a website change tags and structural stuff, or to build links in an unorthodox way to get a lot of Google traffic. That is not possible now and if it were to happen again it would be temporary. The system doesn’t reward short-term investment. It’s a long-term play.

If you look at SEO like a giant machine with thousands of levers on it, you can actually control no more than 10 percent of those levers. You can still do all the technical stuff to perfection and not rank. You can optimize everything and still not rank, because it takes time and investment.

We’ve tried to create something with this guide for business owners and executives, because most of the SEO stuff out there is very technical and takes a lot of work to sit down and read. If you don’t understand how websites work, it turns into a homework assignment very quickly. Our guide is meant to be something you can read over lunch to get a top-level understanding, and better manage the marketing team or agency.

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