It’s been one year since the company I work for had to move 2 of their websites to a new Content Management System (CMS). The one site took a big search engine ranking hit and the other had decent gains. It has been a lot of work in the past year to regain the search engine rankings and improve the SEO on the Toyota dealership website that took the hit.
The CMS move was out of necessity because of the consolidation of the vendors in the automotive dealership field. There are a few companies that went on a buying spree and Cox Automotive was one of them. It was Cox Automotive buying a few website CMS providers that caused me to change. Now they’ve done it again, just one year later. To take advantage of what seemed to be some symmetry we went with VinSolutions. This way we could integrate multiple products into one place and one backend tool. Seemed like a good idea.
Now I’ve had some challenges over the past year with VinSolutions website solution. I have to say that there support has been great! But . . . there were several basic things I wanted done that they said couldn’t be done. Not being a IIS user, I setup an IIS server and tested some stuff myself. Some of the things that I was told couldn’t be done actually could have been. But of course there is no way they were going to give me that level of access to their webserver.
That being said – there is now an announcement that Cox Automotive is going to start moving all VinSolutions websites to the dealer.com platform. So here I am stuck with a quandary again. Because a CMS change will cause a lot of extra work and a search engine ranking hit. Do we stay with Cox Automotive and move to dealer.com or find another vendor. My first thought was to find an automotive website provider that uses a linux based server with php (stuff I know very well). But there are, unfortunately, very few. Because there are a lot of interesting integrated features with our CRM I will probably stay with Cox Automotive.
My other issue is that I just don’t like the look and feel of most of the new dealer.com websites that I’ve seen. They are nice on mobile but the tablet and desktop versions take up way to much screen real estate with useless crap. To confirm I wasn’t alone in my opinion I sent a bunch of links to dealer.com driven websites to a bunch of people and asked for their opinions. The group ranged in age from 19 to 72. There was a small group of respondents that said they liked the dealer.com sites. Pretty much everyone else said they were to busy and hard to find what they wanted. (Interestingly the small group that like the sites were all in their 40s.)
Now I’ve been doing this website stuff since 1992. That’s right I said 1992. I remember when a friend from of my got a copy of Mosaic from his grad school professor and we installed it on my computer. We installed it on mine because I was the only person he knew that had a modem. I even worked in the web hosting division of a national ISP for several years. So I have a tenancy to think that I know a little bit about what I’m talking about.
So why did I toot my own horn in the previous paragraph? The Internet has setup a pretty standard format of try before you buy for online products. In fact most CMS’ run on a freemium model. But not the CMS providers in the automotive web space. So until I’ve purchased the website CMS, had it provisioned, installed and my live inventory added there is no way to test it out.
Oh the companies are always very happy to give me an online webex demo. And the salesperson is usually good at promising me things that the company can’t deliver because he/she doesn’t know what I’m asking or talking about. So perhaps there is an automotive CMS out there that is an approved vendor for Toyota and/or Scion that will read this and give me access to a test account. That would be awesome. In the meantime I’ll keep holding on to my VinSolutions website and making blog posts about how to get around their crappy programming. That way hopefully I’ve helped a few people and not just myself be prepared to move content easily and keep it’s design without a thousand work hours.
(note: image was taken from http://strategicpsychology.com.au/)