There aren’t “official” rules of SEO, but if there were, the first one should be: SEO is always changing. Automotive SEO professionals know that part of the job is constantly keeping up on the next trend and change, but that doesn’t make it easy. Filtering out what matters to your dealership and what is just “SEO noise” is a common headache for car marketers – so we did it for you. Here’s your automotive SEO update for this spring:
It’s no secret that Google constantly updates their search algorithm – so frequently, actually, that announcements for each and every change aren’t efficient. However, some large changes – and what Google says about them – are worth noting.
For example, on March 12th, 2018, Google announced a “broad core algorithm update” – a change which has a broad (though not necessarily dramatic) impact. In this update, Google isn’t penalizing anything – just rewarding previously underrated sites. In their announcement, Google also warns that because this update hasn’t penalized anything, there isn’t anything you can do to “fix it” besides improve your content and wait. Check to see if your site has dropped in ranking – and if it has, it may be time to set a plan in motion to improve the information you are offering your visitors and the general user-friendliness of your site.
This caution to people who saw their sites drop is telling. Sometimes updates change things that we can’t fix – because they reward elements of automotive SEO that aren’t easily changed, altered, implemented, or fixed – like website design or content quality.
As we move forward into 2018, keep alert for changes to Google’s algorithm that have impacts on automotive SEO. With multiple minor changes daily and multiple yearly broad core updates, we can be sure that by the end of the year, SEO will have changed significantly.
On March 26, Google announced that after over a year and a half of testing, they are officially beginning to roll out mobile-first indexing. Google increasingly switching over to mobile-first indexing means they are shifting the way they evaluate pages.
With desktop-first indexing, Google sees your website’s desktop version as the primary site, and uses that content as the default to index. In the past, you’ve also gotten bump if you have a mobile version or responsive site. Mobile-first indexing, however, will use the mobile version of your page as the default – switching to your desktop version if you don’t have a mobile page.
What impact will this have on your website? Google provides a handy chart.
If you already have a responsive website, you shouldn’t experience any change. But that doesn’t mean that the official switch to mobile-first indexing isn’t relevant to your dealership and your automotive SEO.
If, like us, you enjoy a well-crafted metaphor during an explanation, you may find some particular use from one of Google’s tweets on the matter:
For those of us that get nostalgic about print books (or desktop computers, for that matter), this is a bittersweet metaphor, but extremely accurate nonetheless. If there’s an important lesson to take from the shift to mobile-first indexing, even if it doesn’t have a direct impact on your dealership, is that the future is mobile. Automotive SEO experts know that the majority of dealership website traffic now comes from mobile devices, but this change confirms the importance of a mobile-first website and mobile-friendly marketing.
Voice search is booming, and automotive SEO should be ready to capitalize on this. A recent study shows some fascinating differences between voice search in 2017 and 2018.
Most interestingly, in 2018, not only is voice search growing, but people are increasingly using it in public. Stone Temple’s study shows the places people use voice search – in 2018, almost all those numbers grew – except when alone.
Even though 45% of people still report being annoyed by others using voice-search in public, the convenience, wide use due to device permeation, and the rising acceptability are opening up voice search to be used in a much wider variety of situations.
The rise of voice queries mean a few changes to automotive SEO.
First, the key is to find out what content you should optimize for voice search. Unsurprisingly, some topics aren’t well suited to voice-search. After all, when you ask a quick question, the goal is to receive a quick and helpful answer. Most of Google’s results for voice search are very short indeed – averaging just 29 words. In general, your automotive SEO voice-query-optimization efforts should showcase the most useful, bite-sized pieces of information – like your dealership hours and location.
As a second note, be aware of the rise of conversational queries – longer queries with conversational syntax. For example, a user might ask the question “What time does Anytown Motors open on Saturday?” when using voice search as opposed to typing in “Anytown Motors hours.”
The undeniable trend in automotive SEO (in fact, SEO in general) is towards the user’s experience. We are in the era of the empowered consumer now. Search engines (like Google) are built upon their users – so their only goal is to be useful – so useful that what they really become is essential. The best way for a search engine to do this is to deliver highly relevant, accurate, and helpful information in response to every single query.
“User experience” isn’t a ranking factor, it is the ranking factor. Customer experience is what Google’s whole algorithm tries to approximate. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but it’s a small one, if anything. All of the changes happening this spring that we mentioned above are examples of how Google is getting better and better at providing that exceptionally relevant information to their user.
The solution to this: invest in your own user and customer experience. Your SEO practices should support providing users with the information they’re looking for at the moment they’re trying to find it. If your website is delivering a solid customer experience visit after visit after visit, your SEO will improve over time. Your advertising can also help drive users to your website, increasing your traffic and the number of excellent experiences users have had one your site, and thus boosting your SEO.