Last week, Google celebrated its 15-year anniversary by announcing the launch of a new search algorithm called Hummingbird. Google updates tend to generate a sense of dread among website owners. In this case, Hummingbird was rolled out silently prior to the announcement and has been in operation since mid-to-late August.[i] Even so, the headlines surrounding Hummingbird generated tons of buzz and questions from our auto dealer clients.
To set your mind at ease, here are four automotive SEO tips that can help your online dealership survive in the Hummingbird era.
Don’t try to game the system.
If Penguin and Panda didn’t teach you not to game the system, then surely Hummingbird will. Remember that Google’s number one goal is to improve the quality and precision of search results. Over time, Google’s algorithm will get better and better at understanding a searcher’s intent, and then serving up results aligned with that intent. Hummingbird does its part by having an improved capacity for interpreting searches spoken in sentence form.
The engineers at Google can accomplish these types of improvements because they have tons of data and tools with which to analyze that data. It’s simply not realistic to believe that you can outsmart Google. The only course of action is to follow Google’s advice and attract visitors to your site by way of high-quality content.
Understand and leverage the content you have.
Put your objective hat on and visit the homepage of your website. What information does the site offer? What answers do you provide? From a consumer’s perspective, most dealership websites tell consumers two fundamental pieces of information: (1) how to contact you and (2) what cars are on your lot.
Knowing this, you can tailor your SEO strategy to focus on getting consumers to this information quickly and easily. This also means that you’d resist the urge to target people searching for a competing dealership or competing makes.
Look for new content opportunities that fit with your brand.
Use your blog to answer questions consumers have about your dealership, your inventory and your community. Focus on topics that you can “own.”
Pay attention to user experience on your site.
The behavior of your website visitors will tell you where your site content is succeeding and failing. Look at your bounce rate, top exit pages, and time-on-site metrics to identify the patterns and characteristics of the visitors who engage with your site. Use heatmapping software to understand how people are interacting with page features. Put more emphasis on your successful content and remove or rework the content that is failing.
Focus on leads more and traffic less.
In a perfect world, Google will send you the organic traffic that converts and spare you the organic traffic that doesn’t convert. If you do see traffic declines, take a look at your lead generation trends before you panic. You may see that you are getting more form submissions from a smaller base of organic traffic. This means you’re getting higher quality visitors to your site, which is a good thing.
There is one last point to note. Hummingbird will probably allow Google to test and push out more updates, just as Caffeine opened the door for Penguin and Panda. [ii] So the quality of your website and its content will continue to grow in importance.
Opportunity Max is an automotive digital marketing company. We deliver proven programs to increase car sales. Our products and services are used by both franchise and independent dealerships throughout the U.S. Call us today at 1-855-OPPMAX1 for a free analysis on your digital presence.