What are SEM and SEO and Why it’s the Most Important Thing You’ll do to Sell Parts Online

Customers need to be able to find your site, and without SEM and SEO they won’t know your site exists.

Here’s an amazing statistic: 100% of the dealers who have success selling parts online are the ones who successfully employ SEM and SEO. Yes, you read that right. One hundred percent. What does that mean? Let’s break it down:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Optimizing your website and products to make it easier for Google and Bing (or any other search engine) to find them.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - Spending money to get your website or products found on search engines at the top of the search.

Why does SEM and SEO matter for selling parts online?

SEM and SEO are the most important things you can do to sell parts online. Customers need to be able to find your site, and without SEM and SEO they won’t know your site exists.

Here is analogy that may help explain:

A new bakery opens up in your neighborhood. The bakery finds a location, invests in all the baking equipment, and starts making baked goods. However, this bakery doesn’t tell anyone where the store is, they don’t put any signage on their storefront, they don’t tell anyone what they sell, and they don’t tell anyone they’re open. How do customers find this bakery? They don’t – and the bakery quickly goes out of business.

By investing in marketing for your online storefront, you are telling potential customers exactly where your store is, what you sell, and that you’re open 24/7. This is what a search engine marketing plan will do for you.

Here are some applicable examples of what SEM looks like on a search engine:


Here is an example of how SEM works in the real world:


So what’s more important, SEO or SEM?

The reason SEO is important is because it can make your site appear, or rank, in search results whether you are paying to be seen or not. In our bakery analogy, it’s like putting the store in a prime location with lots of foot traffic and having customers spread the word about your store (on top of already existing marketing for the bakery).

With the right ecommerce solution, you won’t have to actively think about SEO. The pages should be optimized for search results without you having to actually manage this yourself. Additionally the right ecommerce solution will handle mobile optimization, making sure your site looks good on mobile devices and tablets. As more and more customers shop on their phones, mobile-friendliness is becoming increasingly more important. Google actually recently announced that they are prioritizing sites that are mobile responsive, so your site will rank higher than sites that don’t adjust for phones and tablets. Again, the right ecommerce solution will handle this stuff in the background, it’s just important to know when you’re making decisions about how you want to sell online.

SEM Success Story

This dealership was selling online for 12 months without much success. They had a total of six orders in 12 months. Not good. They decided to try out an SEM strategy and immediately their sales took off. In just two months after paying for marketing, they had 192 orders. Keep in mind these are extraordinary results, and not every dealership should expect this sort of return, but it’s clear these results were possible with a SEM strategy .

Here is a snapshot of before and after an SEM strategy is implemented:


Open up to new customers

One of the main reasons you should get an ecommerce solution is simple: it opens you up to new customers. And SEM is what makes that possible. With SEM, you can market your parts anywhere in the country, at any time. This is important for selling parts online because of the different trends in different markets. Certain parts might be in higher demand in different regions of the country. No one in Florida is looking for snow tires in December, but a lot of consumers in Montana are.

Don’t forget: Just because you have the ability to sell anywhere doesn’t mean you should ignore your local market. Sometimes dealers develop a strategy to “own their backyard” before they actively expand into other areas. It all depends on your goals and where you want your ecommerce business to grow.

Don’t worry, we have you covered

The key takeaway here is that SEM and SEO are important if want to create a new, significant, revenue stream for your dealership. It’s important that you understand why you need SEM and SEO, but you don’t need to be an expert in implementing these practices. Parts Departments have too much going on for you to expect to have an SEM/SEO expert on staff. The right ecommerce partner will be able to handle this stuff in the background while you focus on what you’re good at: selling parts.

Create a huge revenue stream for your dealership and open up your parts department to a completely new set of customers.
You can fish with bait or cast a large net. Here is why we recommend fishing with bait.
Customers need to be able to find your site, and without SEM and SEO they won’t know your site exists.