In the car business it’s common to change website providers. But most everyone in the business has a different permalink structure.
So your probably thinking, what’s a permalink and why should i be concerned about it?
It all has to do with a little thing called “Back Links.” These are links that lead to your dealership from indexed search links, different publications your vehicles are shared with, social media shares, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Etc.
If you change your website provider chances are the link structure on your new website will be different than your old one. If they do not do a permanent 301 redirect to your new sites pages those back links will be lost forever. Back links have to do with your Google and Bing / Yahoo! page rank. When the search bots crawl your new site and don’t find previously indexed pages it creates a slew of errors. And this is like the curse of death to your website!
Personally i prefer to start out with a new domain name. This serves two main purposes. The 1st and probably the most initial importance is that your current business is not disrupted while the domains name servers are changed which can take 24-48 hours to propagate (point to and change host ip.) This also gives you a chance to test drive your new site, as most car dealer website providers give a satisfaction guarantee of some kind. If you don’t like it you can cancel and get a full refund.
The second reason to use a new domain name is. Lets say you like the look and feel of your new site, it’s now time to see if it’s properly meta tagged to target your dealerships name and location. If you are somewhat savvy you can view a pages source and read it’s meta name and description tags. Google has done away with keyword meta and so has Bing / Yahoo!.
As a side note here – just so you are aware – there are now only two major search providers in the USA. Google and Bing. Yahoo! is contracting with Bing for their search so the results from both of them look the same. Except Yahoo’s layout, banner and display ads, and paid promotional links. Various ISP’s and web content providers contract with one of the above providers. AOL uses Google etc.
It’s imperative that whoever is setting up your new car dealer website research what’s currently in search to properly set your meta description and title tags up. I see so much generic stuff it’s sickening to look at. Your site should be all about your dealerships brand and not generic used cars trucks vans suvs etc.
So now lets go over choosing a new domain name. Domain names are leased annually. So it’s not uncommon to have a domain go through several hands and possibly be dropped by a registrar for being used illegally or to send spam emails or tweets etc. If you wind up being the proud new owner of a blacklisted domain name your as good as finished from day one!
You are probably wondering how can i find out who previously owned a domain name i want to register? Simply Google the domain up and see what their search returns. Also search Bing and see what comes up in their search results.
Also i suggest using HosterStats.com to query a domains registrar history. I used a generic domain name to show you what the history looks like. Here is an example of a bad domain name commonly used for vehicle fraud. You can see it was deleted by the registrar 3 times.
So if you have have decided on a new domain name that’s available and have checked it’s history out, it’s time to register it. Personally i prefer to own my own domains. But some car dealer website providers want control of a domain to possibly change name servers or update contact info. Possibly you can be the administrative contact and they have technical contact rights to change name servers etc.
What i prefer to do is get the new site up and running. Have the new car dealer website provider pull your inventory from your other still running site and import it into your new site. It can be a pita to manually enter 100 or more cars into your inventory manually.
Be sure all your sites meta details are correct. Make sure your “pretty permalinks” look good and are not excessively long. Get your new site submitted to Google webmaster tools. Also set your site up in Google Analitics. Your website provider can embed the verification and tracking code in your sites header file. You want to see how your sites traffic is doing, where your leads are coming from etc.
Give it a good 30-60 days for your new website to get well indexed into search. After that you can shut down your old website but don’t kill the domain name – keep it. Then go to the current registrar for that domain name and do a permanent 301 wildcard redirect to your new site. This will forward any request to that old domain to your new site. You can either bounce it to your new domain’s home page. Or as i prefer – get creative and create a new site page explaining in layman’s terms your site has moved to a new location. Have a list of links on that “landing page” that your visitors can easily select and view. Sales, Service, Etc.
The whole idea is to be friendly and helpful to your sites visitors. And as the old saying in the car business goes. Get their confidence, get their trust, then get their money.
Retired Used Car Dealer (trust-me) and ASE Cert Mechanic with over 40 years experience. I'm also a Hobbyist DOS days Fidonet Bulletin Board System Operator (BBS SysOp) turned net guru. Just hanging out in cyberspace keeping up with tech!
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