iAuto is a SEO friendly auto/vehicle classifieds web software that allows you to create an auto/vehicle classifieds website, similar to www.autotrader.com. It has all you need to start your own vehicle listing service, and doesn’t require much time to learn the way it works.
iAuto was developed by WorksForWeb software team with a set of other niche classifieds software products such as iRealty and iLister. WorksForWeb started to develop its classifieds framework, that is used in all WFW products, in December 2005 and since that time scientifically improved it to correspond to the market needs.
This web software comes with different price ranges:
- Standard edition – $519
- Special edition – $219
- Hosted version – $49.95/month
iAuto could be easily installed on almost any hosting server. Here is a list of what you need to successfully run the script:
- Apache web server
- PHP 4.3. or 5.x
- MySQL 4.1 or higher
- ionCube or Zend Optimizer
- GD library
As you can see, ionCube or Zend is required to run iAuto, which means that some part of the software code is encrypted. Actually there are only a few encrypted core files, which are not responsible for any software functionality. I personally have made lots of modifications and added new modules and there weren’t any problems with the encrypted files.
Zend or ionCube are installed on the most modern hosting servers. But if it is not you steel can install it yourself. In this article you can find instructions on how to do that: http://customers.worksforweb.com/index.php?_m=knowledgebase&_a=viewarticle&kbarticleid=40
One of the iAuto advantages is that you can install a free 15 days trial version and test it on your server before the purchase. After you make an order you’ll need only to change your trial license files with permanent ones.
So here is step by step instruction on how to make an installation:
Follow this link to download the package http://customers.worksforweb.com/index.php?_m=downloads&_a=view
Upload the package to your server and unpack it to your installation folder using file manger in your control panel. If you don’t have a file manager, then you’ll need to unpack the package on your local computer and then upload it to the installation folder on your hosting server.
Run your installation URL in your browser. You should get installation form on your screen. Fill this form, following the instructions written at it, and submit the form.
After installing the script you’ll need to get the license to make it work. If you’re installing the trial version, you can generate the trial license here: http://www.worksforweb.com/system/licenses/generate_free_license/ . If you’ve made a purchase, than request a permanent license from the iAuto sales staff.
If you install the iAuto script on your local computer, then you can run under localhost url without any licenses. This allows webmasters to make significant script modifications and test it before buying the license.
Configuring listing types and user groups
After successful installing iAuto you can start configuring it to your particular needs. Log in to your admin panel and start your configuration.
iAuto allows you to easily set the listing fields you need for your classifieds site and configure appropriate listing types for your business model. For example you can create “cars”, “bikes”, “trucks” vehicle types and configure custom fields for each type.
You can also crate separate user groups and configure individual profile for each group. E.g. you can create “Private seller” group” for private listings and “Dealers” group for auto dealers. After crating user groups you can set listing conditions and price options. iAuto includes flexible membership plans and packages system, that allows you to implement almost any business model for your service.
Customizing iAuto templates
iAuto framework includes flexible Smarty driven template engine. The software package comes with 2 default themes. You can either integrate your own design into the script, or modify one of the included themes. All template files are stored in the single folder, so you can easily copy themes between iAuto installations.
Translating iAuto to your language(s)
Starting from version 4.3.0 iAuto supports Multilanguage functionality. This means you can easily translate iAuto to your language, or run your classifieds site on several languages. Using iAuto admin panel you can provide support for as many languages as you need, and make translation to any language. On the front end, user can choose their language and the system will display user interface in the language chosen.
Optimizing iAuto for search engines
iAuto is one of the most search engine friendly scripts You can customize it to get effective results from your SEO program. Here is what iAuto allows for SEO:
- Custom listing URLs. By default listing detail page has the following URL www.yoursite.com/listing_details/2573/1988-BMW-525.html. As you can see listing keywords (Year, Make and Model) are included to the URL, so that search engine will consider this page more relevant to that keywords. You can include any additional relevant information to the listing URLs.
- Listing info in the title metatag. Another important SEO feature is keywords presence in the title and description metatags. iAuto allows you to include any listing info to these metatags.
- Listing browsing. To make search engine crawler index all ads on your site these ads should be accessible from the homepage via direct links. By default iAuto includes “Browse by Make/Model” and “Browse by body style” features. You can configure browsing by any other listing field, such as state or city.
Examples of iAuto powered web sites
iAuto is widely used by webmasters to create vehicle classifieds web sites of different kinds. On the portfolio page of iAuto official web site http://www.iautosoftware.com/portfolio.html you can find a list of featured projects based on iAuto engine.
Bellow I’ll describe only a few iAuto powered web site that I like:
- http://www.sellingacar.co.uk – One of the most successful car classifieds online services created using iAuto. Its database includes about 5000 listings, and keeps growing.
- http://www.mvvideoads.com – Military vehicles and accessories classifieds. A good example of customized iAuto installation.
- http://www.sandiegoautofinders.com – A car dealership web site.
- http://kunstzonen.dk – A good example of translated iAuto installation to Danish.
iAuto is good choice for everyone willing to start his own online auto/vehicle classifieds service. It’s already pre-configured for car listings and includes make/models database, as well as 2 ready to use templates. You can easily customize default templates or integrate your own.
iAuto core files are encrypted so it may not work on some hosting servers, that don’t have ionCube or Zend. So you’ll need to pay attention to this issue when choosing hosting for your iAuto based site. Otherwise you can choose hosted version of iAuto, in this case you won’t have any problems with hosting.
Igor Karmanov is an online entrepreneur working in Kyrgiz Republic (former Soviet Union). One of his latest successful projects is local automobile classifieds online service www.bib.kg. Currently he’s working on a new car owners social network for Russia.