A Story of Growth at Carros.com.co
Back in 2006, my high-school friends and I decided to create the website Carros.com.co. Im very happy to see that today, 7 years later, it has become a very healthy multi national business that Im happy to be running on a day to day basis.
When we started, we knew we were standing against a huge titan in the field, TuCarro.com. At the time, they had complete control over the automotive classifieds space in Colombia. In 2008, they were acquired by MercadoLibre, and with that push, they had a sticker on every car on the streets. Being young, we didnt have much access to resources to inject towards our new venture. So we set out to learn everything we could about growing a website without having a marketing budget.
We delved into SEO mainly. We knew we had a good product so it was a matter of getting a decent placement under the main keywords “carros” and “carros usados”. We soon realized that our domain, carros.com.co, was favored by the search engines due to the fact that it had an exact match on those searches. We also realized that users were staying on our site for a fair amount of time, generating many pageviews per visit. This in turn favored our rankings greatly.
During 2011, we found a new cofounder who helped us redevelop the backend of our site. We had been using a PHP framework, and migrated to a Ruby on Rails backend. This change had a very strong impact on our inbound traffic, due to the inner linking structure of the site, the automatic generation of inner pages and the swiftness of load times. Not only were we now ranking on the first spot for all of the main keywords associated with used cars in Colombia. We were know addressing an insanely big long tail audience that were looking for very specific car related things on the search engines.
With that accelerated growth, we started to expand to other countries. We set up Carros.com.ve in Venezuela, and within 10 months started hitting 250k pageviews per month. As of this post, we’re currently developing the Brazilian version of our site on Carros.co. Although thats not the local domain in Brazil, Google treats it as a generic domain and we will be counting on a very strong SEO strategy in order to take on the big guys WebMotors.com.br and iCarros.com.br. They’re both owned by Santander and Itaú respectively, the biggest banks in Brazil, so we shalt see.
Finally, we’re now the owners of Carros.com.gt, Carros.com.hn, Carros.co.cr and Carros.com.pr. We will continue our expansion through latin america and central america. Hopefully everything works out for the best and we can create value for everyone throughout the region.