Fixed ops SEO is significantly different than what dealerships use for front of house SEO. Shoppers search for OEM parts differently than they search for new automobiles. Front of the house marketing uses different search terms. It also has a different path to purchase than back of the house marketing for fixed ops parts sales.
Fixed ops SEO is different because shoppers are making different types of search queries to find OEM replacement parts.
Parts shoppers, or consumers in the market for repair services, search for parts and services in six main ways. Going clockwise around our SEO graphic:
1). By searching by OEM part type, including make/model/year modifiers;
2). By the original OEM part numbers or crossover part numbers;
3). Informational search including “how do I…?” or “what is a…?”
4). By OEM part symptoms, including year/make/model modifiers;
5). By searching on brand name for OEM replacement parts like Motorcraft or Bosch; or
6). By searching by OEM part function or a specific service.
Dealers and online OEM parts sales
Online OEM parts sales opens up the entire world as a marketplace and the profit margins are attractive, too. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), dealership profits from selling new cars has been dropping, while profits from fixed operations including parts sales are growing. Google Partners recently quoted NADA that new car sales have a profit margin of 6%-8%, while car parts has an average profit margin of 20%-30%.
How fixed ops SEO is different:
Automobile dealers selling parts online need to be aware that selling OEM parts online for fixed ops, and marketing the dealership online, are two completely different things. This article shows important reasons why pay per click (PPC) search is unique. It also shows why search engine optimization (auto parts SEO) for OEM replacement parts is unique. You’ll see why it requires a different skill set from your digital automotive marketing agency.
The Vehicle Detail Pages (VDPs) have completely different search terms than your fixed ops pages.
Referencing the list above, here’s more detail on how shoppers find fixed ops web pages:
OEM part type: This includes parts like “door handles,” specific engine parts like “pistons,” “wheels,” and so on. These search types are usually modified by year/make/model words. These are probably the most popular search type for your fixed ops website or web pages.
OEM part number or crossover number search: These are lower-volume search patterns but indicate a highly-educated consumer who has done pre-purchase research. These searches have high purchase intent.
Informational search: These are searches for installation instructions, reviews, technical information and so on. Many of these searches end up on YouTube.
OEM part symptom: This type of search includes searches like “brakes squealing” or “radiator leaking” and are typically modified by year/make/model. This can potentially include search terms for services.
Brand name: These are searches for “Ford parts” or “GM parts.” These can also include OEM replacement brands such a “Motorcraft” or “ACDelco.” This can potentially include search terms for repair services, too.
OEM part function, including services: This type of fixed ops search includes the function of a part, as in “cooling” or “floor protection” (floor mats or liners). This can potentially include search terms for repair or maintenance services such as “oil change” or “Schedule B service.”
Consumers search for OEM parts differently
Consumers search for OEM car parts in unique ways, which is completely different than the search process for buying a new or used car or truck. This is just as true for OEM replacement parts as it is for aftermarket parts.
Each of these search patterns are unique and complex, and in fact, we’ve made a lot of discoveries over the years just on how consumers search using OEM part numbers. When you start looking at part types, symptoms, etc. it gets even more complicated.
It’s important to show up for these search types. Remember this when setting up a marketing campaign, whether you’re focused on paid search (PPC) or search engine optimization (SEO).
When working with an automotive SEO agency – whether it’s us, or any other digital automotive agency – have the agency explain their approach to these search types to you.
Also have them explain if they manage Google Merchant Center feeds for clients and how their approach to Google Shopping ads fits with these various types of searches.
Puzzled by fixed ops SEO options?
We are proud to say we’re a Premier Google Partner agency, one of only 2,000 worldwide and the first Premier Google Partner dedicated to both the OEM and aftermarket auto parts business. There are several great Premier Google Partner agencies serving auto dealerships, but they don’t specialize in car parts eCommerce sites.
What’s the big deal? Premier Google Partners not only have to qualify by meeting criteria for best practice and customer service, Partners also have access to market research, technical help and new beta advertising programs from Google.
We suggest when speaking to any auto parts SEO company or PPC company, ask if they’re a Premier Google Partner and ask for examples of how that can help you (yes, SEO is different from PPC, but being a Premier Google Partner is a great indication a marketing company is legit).
Independent market research and case studies
We treat data, analytics and market research very seriously. In fact, we consider market research to be our foundation.
Since we started Hedges & Company in 2004, we’ve surveyed literally hundreds of thousands of consumers to find out why and how they shop for and buy car parts and truck parts online.
Because we have this analytical and fact-based approach, we can usually hit the ground running with new automotive accounts. We also use this to create custom campaigns for clients because in the auto parts business, “cookie cutter” accounts just don’t work. Consumers search for Honda OEM replacement parts differently than they do for GM or Ford parts.
We have a lot of market research on our blog, feel free to look around while you’re here!
Questions for a fixed ops SEO agency
When considering any agency, ask about other marketing services such as email. We’re a full-service email service provider (ESP) with a completely white-label solution. In fact, we’ve delivered as many as 100 million emails in a single year! We also provide prospect/conquest email marketing, postal mailing lists pulled from a masterfile of over 170 million vehicle owners, all categorized by year/make/model, and we also do Vehicles in Operation (VIO) analysis.
Finally, please look over our digital marketing services here, and if you have any questions, let’s talk!
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