State of the Self-Driving Car: Mid-2017 Report

In a year that’s been interesting, to say the least, there’s been a lot of chatter about self-driving cars. In the meantime, it appears that humans will have to continue driving their own cars so make sure you have learned the life skill of driving with the Right Driving School. Will autonomy seep into the factory and roadways to take our jobs and swing us too far into the future for our own good? Or do the benefits of having cheaper auto insurance premiums and safer and uncongested streets outweigh the cons? Some may be getting ahead, in reality we’re still a while off autonomous cars, meaning you can never know how safe the other drivers around you are, you may want to look into what you need to know about reckless driving, before driving becomes computer precise.

Whether you’re an optimist or a cynic on the subject, it matters not; autonomous cars are approaching faster than anyone could have imagined five years ago. With Tesla, Google, and Apple making headway, what do the other big-name automakers have cookin’? Here’s your mid-year “State of the Union” on where we’re at in the self-driving vehicle arena.

Self Driving Car

GM to Lead the American Self-Driving Market

June was the month of months for GM after announcing that they’re ready to ship out another 130 self-driving Chevrolet Bolts—a total of 180—for on-road testing. These first- and second-generation autonomous Bolts are equipped with HD cameras, cross-traffic monitoring systems, and traffic light-sensing sensors.

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Digital Marketing Stats Every Auto Dealer Should Know

1 Billion – Websites on the internet.

100 Billion – Google searches per month.

1 – Dealership site you care about. And we don’t blame you! But beating out all your competitors to the top of those billions of searches and websites is no cakewalk. As you decide how to best position your dealership for continued success, consider these digital marketing stats and how they affect you (if you aren’t sure, it’s time to speak with us).

Digital Touchpoints

80% of Shopping Touchpoints are Digital

About 24 touchpoints stand between the user’s initial car-shopping phase and a visit to your dealership lot, and 19 of them are digital. The major touchpoints include the following:

  • Google or search engine query
  • OEM website
  • Financing calculator
  • Google reviews of local dealership
  • Dealership website
  • Ads
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How to Improve Your Dealership Homepage & Drive More Leads

Your dealership’s website makes a difference, even though a growing number of consumers utilize Google’s information (schema) over your site’s. But there are ways to help put your homepage in the driver’s seat and on track to generate more traffic and leads.

Increase Homepage Traffic

First things first: If your homepage isn’t up to snuff, your visitors will quickly disengage. A good homepage should absolutely display the following details prominently:

  • An intuitive navigation bar that focuses on the juiciest major keywords. This must also be mobile-friendly.
  • A phone number that matches with what is listed in Google and other search engines and directories.
  • An address (also must match) with clickable directions.
  • Your dealership’s hours should be visible, as this is one of the most viewed details in Google.
  • A search bar.
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Organic Decline Part 3: Organic Search Results Have Visually Fallen

The increased amount of ad space and additional paid search functionality features have done more than expand options for advertisers; they have physically moved the organic search results further down the page.


google-serp-changes-2016 The change in Google search engine results from January 2013 to May 2016. The red square highlights the organic listings that are visible on the first page. The yellow line represents the standard page cut off point for the average desktop browser size. The May 2016 result is the current format which shows over half of the consumers above the fold screen estate controlled by paid search advertisements.

In 2016, when a searcher types in a high volume query, i.e. “car dealer near me,” they have the potential to only see paid search results on more than 50% of their desktop screen, and 100% of their mobile screen.

The organic push further down the SERP has caused consumers to react to the information that is presented to them first, which has shifted more and more toward paid placements. The data for this trend has come into focus in the 2016 Q1 Merkle Digital Marketing Report, which shows a first-ever win for paid search over organic search in the share of mobile site visits. (“Q1 2016 Digital Marketing Report”, p. 21)

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Google Releases On-the-Lot Foot Traffic Data for Auto Dealers

If you’re a dealer, I hope this isn’t news to you, but car shopping now starts WAY before the actual visit to the dealer. While patrons used to visit dealerships five or more times before making a decision, the rise of the web and especially mobile have cut those visits down to two. With fewer chances to interact in person, you’ve got to make sure you’re reaching your potential customers online. Luckily, Google has recently published data that should help you to make the most of your online efforts. Check out our summary below and read the full Google piece for even more data deliciousness.

Foot Traffic Month

Dealership Foot Traffic by Month

First up in Google’s findings – Foot Traffic by Month. From this data, it’s apparent that dealerships tend to see the biggest rise in traffic during the summer months and leading up to the holidays. What does that mean to you? Well, it’s pretty likely that you have a monthly or yearly budget for Digital Marketing. Using this data, you could take a portion of your budget from slower months and reallocate it to months with higher foot traffic.

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Top Car Dealer Digital Marketing Must-Haves for 2017

We’re still in the first month of the New Year, which means it’s a better time than ever to re-evaluate your Digital Marketing strategy. To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of digital marketing must-haves that every car dealer should be employing. Take a look to see how you check out; if you need any help, let us know, and we’ll get you on the road to more sales faster than a Bugatti.


Don’t Use Stock Photos

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many dealerships out there are still using stock photos on their SRP and VDP pages. Stock photos aren’t hard to spot. They look bland and could be the deciding factor for potential customers who are comparing your lot to your competitors’. It’s not a bad idea to have a photographer on call. After all, professional photos of the interior and exterior of all your cars could give you a leg up on your competition.

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Organic Decline Part 2: Increased Effort for Google SERP Monetization

One of the most influential pieces in the battle of paid versus organic is the increased effort for search engine results page (SERP) monetization by Google and other competing search engines. This monetization is led by enhanced perception of ad nativity, increased ad space on SERP, new paid search placements across Google products, and the decline in viewable organic results.

Digital advertising disclosures have been an issue with Google and numerous other online ad markets for a long time. In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a response to a complaint that numerous web companies offer advertisements “without clear and conspicuous disclosure that the ads are ads,” and that this “concealment may mislead search engine users to believe that search results are based on relevancy alone, not marketing ploys.”

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Organic Decline Part 1: Organic Search Traffic is in Decline

Each quarter, Merkle LLC, the largest privately held performance marketing agency, releases the Digital Marketing Report, which is a review of some of the major trends in digital advertising. Reviewing data from Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and other digital advertising mediums, the report helps marketers gauge where the industry has been and potentially where it is going.

The past year or more has been an interesting time for organic search traffic across the web. While overall traffic to websites has continued to increase, the share of traffic from organic search sources continues to decrease.

organic search traffic decline

Source: Q3 2016 Digital Marketing Report. Merkle Inc., 2016.

The Q3 2016 report shares the stark reality of organic search visits being down 5% year-over-year. This represents a fourth straight quarter of organic search visit declines, which began as the first decline in the history of the report back in the Q4 2015 edition. The only device type to show a year-over-year increase in that four-quarter decline was mobile, which will be reviewed in a forthcoming section of this six part organic decline research blog series.

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12 Powerful Tips To Overcome Writer’s Block

Ahh, the holidays. A joyful time filled with happiness, merriment, and good cheer. You’re looking forward to all of the upcoming holiday fun. But, suddenly, a dark sense of foreboding creeps into your consciousness spoiling your upbeat and festive mood.


“By the time they invent word processors, I’ll be dead.”

“Oh, snap! I’ve got a couple dozen blogs to write this month. And the first one is due tomorrow. I’d better hop to it and get these done so I can par-tay.”

You’ve been in this situation before. But not to worry. Your head is brimming with all sorts of terrific and creative ideas for some blockbuster blog content. You sit down at your computer, pull up your word processor, put fingers to keyboard, and….nothing.

“Any minute now,” you think. “Okay, here we go!”

Thirty minutes pass. You stare at the blank screen, puzzled. An hour ticks by. Small beads of sweat begin to form on your forehead. You feel a bit clammy.

Still nothing. What’s going on here? Why aren’t your fingers flying across the keyboard creating brilliant online content like you’ve always been able to do?

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24 Common Grammatical Errors And How To Fix Them

In the classic holiday movie, The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews sings about her “favorite things.” You know, “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.” However, we bet that you won’t find “studying grammar” on her short list of happy activities.


Julie Andrews ponders grammatical errors

Oh dear. Should I use “compliment” or “complement?” Photo:

In fact, we expect that the idea of her curling up with a copy of William Strunk and E.B. White’s Elements of Style after a hard day of frolicking around the Austrian countryside ranks right up there with “dog bites” and “bee stings,” as it likely does for the vast majority of us.

But if you’re in the business of blogging or writing SEO content, then paying attention to proper grammar is essential. Grammatical errors, no matter how small, make any blog sound amateurish. Poor grammar also gives the impression that you didn’t actually care enough about your blog, or your audience, to properly proofread and correct your copy. If you are a non-English speaker it might be hard to get to grips with English grammar which could lead to mistakes, so using something like this A. J. Hoge course could be a helpful source to get you started.

And poof! just like that, there goes your credibility.

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