SEO in the automotive industry is changing significantly for 2019. Here we take a look at recent trends for SEO marketing as well as PPC for auto dealers.

All forms of marketing, not just SEO marketing, plays a heightened role as the automobile industry struggles with lackluster sales. Even though the first half of 2018 was up from 2017, automotive industry experts predicted a sales slump in the last half of 2018.

Trend 1: Video used for SEO marketing in the automotive industry

seo marketing automotive industry

Graphic courtesy Think With Google

Video plays a bigger role than ever in SEO marketing for automotive. A recent statistic from Google shows that video influenced the shopping habits of 75% of automobile shoppers. That comes from a July 2018 Google/Ipsos research study, “How People Shop with YouTube.” It was conducted among 18–64 year olds who go online at least once per month and also purchased a car in the last year.

That’s a major change for auto dealerships that traditionally rely on traditional media like television advertising.

Video helps today’s research-obsessed consumers discover new vehicles. It also helps consumers compare potential purchases. SEO marketing in the automotive industry targets in-market consumers. On the other hand, traditional television advertising reaches anyone, whether they’re looking for automobiles or not.

Trend 2: SEO marketing in the automotive industry depends on good data

seo marketing automotive industry

Data-driven attribution selection example courtesy Google Ads blog.

Automobile dealers face new challenges with proper utilization and analysis of data, to be able to evaluate SEO marketing. A case in point is accurate attribution for marketing. Let’s drill down into data-driven attribution vs. the outdated last-click attribution model.

This primarily affects PPC for auto dealers, instead of SEO. But, this search trend is important to understand for either channel because of the increasing need to understand proper attribution.

The search process doesn’t begin or end with consumers searching for the same thing. Today’s consumers are obsessed with research, and don’t necessarily know the exact product to look for. Shoppers click on many ads and organic search results before converting to a buyer. This makes it difficult to give proper attribution to the conversion.

Last-click attribution is the default choice in Google Ads. Last click ignores all clicks except the very last, “buy the exact product I know I want” ad click. What if the interaction is a conversion? Then, it ignores all clicks except the last “reserve a test drive for the exact car I know I want” ad click.

SEO marketing in the automotive industry is more effective if you manage SEO for many paths to purchase. Keep in mind people don’t always know exactly what they’re looking for. They also don’t know exactly what they’re going to buy. The reason data-driven attribution is important for PPC for auto dealers is the same reason effective SEO marketing is about topics instead of keywords.

Next, we compare topics vs. keywords in our next trend, on semantic search and latent semantic indexing.

Trend 3: Semantic search affects SEO marketing for automobile industry

seo marketing automotive industryLatent semantic indexing, or LSI, is important for SEO marketing. To be truly effective you must understand how LSI influences consumer search. SEO has changed and today, SEO marketing is more about topics than it is about individual keywords. That’s how latent semantic indexing plays a role in SEO marketing.

To be effective at SEO marketing for automobile consumers, you must first understand the topics you need to be visible for and how LSI relates to specific sub-topics.

For an example, look at these search suggestions. This is a typical topic used in SEO marketing for an automotive website. If you created a page targeting the topic “best new family cars” you shouldn’t focus only on synonyms that are LSI keywords. You should also consider keywords that relate to the basic topic. Examples on the left include “best new small family cars” and “best deals on new family cars.”

Also note the search suggestion “best new small family cars under $20,000.” That indicates that families searching for cars might also be interested in finding good deals.

LSI is also important for PPC for auto dealers, not just SEO.

Trend 4: The increase in “near me” search, for SEO marketing for the automotive industry

seo marketing automobile industry

Graphic courtesy of Think With Google blog.

There has been explosive growth in local searches, including “near me” search, as reported by Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP Marketing for the Americas.

According to Google, “near me” mobile searches contain a variant of “can I buy” or “to buy.” These have grown over 500% over the last two years. In 2017, Google observed that smartphone users dropped location qualifiers such as ZIP codes or neighborhoods from local searches. This is because smartphone users now assume their local search results will be relevant to them because of their phone’s location.

There has been more than a 200% increase in “near me” searches related to automobile and truck dealers.

These include searches like “car dealer near me,” “Ford truck dealer near me,” or “Buick dealer near me.”

Local search also uses phrases like “…open now near me,” “…near me right now,” indicating the immediacy of these local searches.

To take advantage of these local searches, automobile dealership websites must have NAP information. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone. This information should be on every page along with hours of operation. These should all be marked up with schema like JSON-LD code to help search engines understand the information.

It should go without saying an automotive dealer website must be mobile-friendly. After all, these local searches are being done on mobile devices.

For PPC for auto dealers, it is important to include location extensions in Google Ads. These extensions can show distance to a location, a location’s street address, or clickable call button. It also gives access to information about the location such as hours, directions or photos.

Do you have questions about SEO for the automotive industry?

If you have more questions on anything in our article, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.