Pros and Cons of Using YouTube at Your Dealership

Video is hot these days, and is a great way to engage your potential customers. When it comes to online video, YouTube is probably the first site that pops into most people’s minds, so I thought it might be a good idea to discuss some of the pros and cons of putting your dealership videos on YouTube.


1) SEO

When I talk to car dealers about YouTube, invariable one of the first benefits mentioned is search engine optimization (SEO). Videos hosted on YouTube are indexed well and generally show up highly in search results (after all, YouTube is owned by Google).

2) Audience

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world? More than 1 Billion unique users visit YouTube each month. Even though 70% of this traffic comes from outside the United States, YouTube still gets over 120 million viewers in the US a month. That’s a lot of eyeballs!

3) Social Network Integration

Google+, Facebook, Twitter, GMail, and others integrate YouTube embeds into their platform frameworks. That means that when one of your dealership’s YouTube videos is posted to or shared on a social network, a prospect can watch that video directly from his feed or timeline without having to click a link and go to another page

4) Low Cost

You don’t have to pay YouTube a dime to host your videos. It’s free! You get access to all of those viewers without paying for it. Of course, as one of my former colleagues would say, “YouTube is free if your time isn’t worth anything.” To take full advantage of YouTube, you’ve still got to put the time in to make sure you’re producing compelling content, uploading your videos with good titles, and optimizing the video descriptions with important keywords.


1) SEO

Now you’re probably thinking, “wait, I thought you said SEO was one of the pros of YouTube?”. I did, and it is, but there are also some SEO downsides: While YouTube can get great exposure for your videos, it doesn’t necessarily have a positive impact on how your dealership website ranks in search. In fact, your search results from YouTube can actually cannibalize traffic that would normally go directly to your website. Unfortunately, even if you put links back to your dealership website in your video descriptions, these links are tagged as “nofollow” which means they’re ignored when it comes to helping your search rankings.

2) Competitor Ads

YouTube exists to make money, and they do that by selling ads before videos play, banner overlays, featured/suggested videos in the right rail, or the related videos that appear after videos are done playing. Your competitors can even purchase ads to run on YouTube against your videos to attempt to hijack your potential customers.

3) Limited Dealership Branding

Individual video pages on YouTube don’t allow much customization or opportunity for dealership branding, links, or calls to action. The video description allows for some information, but certainly doesn’t give a potential customer a seamless branded experience. Ideally, you’d like your prospect’s entire experience to revolve around your dealership, not jumping to different sites and brands.

4) Competing Content

In addition to ads from other dealerships, related and popular videos are competing for the attention of your prospects. After all, YouTube is not optimized to sell cars, they’re optimized to get users to consume videos. Your prospect may have started looking at a vehicle from your dealership, but before they know it they’re watching a video of Kung Fu Grandpa in a Food Lion parking lot.

5) Takes a customer away from your website

In addition to the negative SEO effects of YouTube (cannibalizing your own dealership website traffic), even when you have YouTube videos embedded on your website, those videos only link back to YouTube. SEO is all about getting prospective customers to your website, where you can convert them into leads and get them into your store. When you send prospects away to a website like YouTube, you’re losing your captive audience, and it could be tough to ever get them back.


YouTube definitely has to be part of your dealership’s video strategy, but it shouldn’t be your entire strategy. There are other video tools (like Walkaround Videos) that can supplement YouTube’s shortcomings, so you can take advantage of the pros and negate the cons.

How about you? How have your YouTube results been? Tell us about it in the comments.