The June episodes of High Performance wrapped up series two. Zach talked about Performance Max ads, along with other paid advertising opportunities, how to increase fixed ops leads, and even some common reasons you may see an increase in direct traffic to your website. This information allows you to not only learn how to best manage your dealership’s online marketing initiatives but also how to look at and interpret the data these efforts are producing. If you missed any of these episodes, you’re going to want to catch up. Here’s a quick recap to help you do so:
Performance Max Ads
The first topic addressed in June was the use of Performance Max ads, an advertisement type within paid search. With these, you pay Google to maximize your performance per dollar. This means bringing traffic to your website from various entities, including Google Search, Maps, YouTube, and more. This ad type is popular because it does, in fact, do a good job bringing that traffic to your website. However, there are some issues with them that Zach identified in High Performance Episode 6.
One of the common ways Performance Max ads are shown to users is through your Google Business Profile (GBP). This is problematic because a prominent ad is actually more likely to get a click than the organic button that already exists on your GBP. This means that you are now paying for that click when it would have been free had the organic button been used. And unfortunately, when you create a Performance Max ad, there is no option to filter which platforms the ads go to; you have no control over this.
In all, Performance Max ads do take away from organic traffic, especially when it comes to your GBP. This is okay, so long as you are prepared to see a dip in your organic traffic. However, it is not always recommended as you have to pay for these clicks, as opposed to the free clicks you get from organic rankings. Like most things, there are both pros and cons to Performance Max ads.
Vehicle Listing Ads vs Paid Search
In High Performance Episode 7, Zach discussed the difference between vehicle listing ads (VLAs) and paid search. Paid search has been around for a long time and allows you to bid on particular search queries such as “Ford F-150 for sale” and “Chevy dealership near me” to get the top spot. VLAs, on the other hand, are based on the inventory you have at your dealership. These ads will show up in a scrolling banner at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when a user makes a search with the year, make, and model of a vehicle. However, they are getting broader and beginning to show up even for more basic searches.
These ads present the searcher with images of the vehicle along with some basic information like mileage, location, and whether it is new or pre-owned. Not only does this help users quickly learn about a vehicle, but it also can bring strong, transactional traffic to your site. Because this space is used by local dealerships, online dealerships, and third-party inventory providers, though, it is quite competitive, which drives up the cost quite a bit. And with VLAs becoming more common with broad keywords, it’s important to recognize that this could be pulling traffic from your organic efforts. That is where it becomes essential to stay in the know with your paid search provider, allowing you both to make decisions that will benefit your business, not fight against one another. When it comes down to it, VLAs are a great asset, but they do come at a cost.
How to Increase Fixed Ops Leads
High Performance Episode 8 was all about increasing fixed ops leads. This increase can come from paid search, organic traffic, or both. Zach pointed out, though, that the targets for these increases may not be what you think. While intuition may have you wanting to focus on keywords such as “Ford service center,” general dealership keywords like “Ford dealership” may actually bring you the fixed ops traffic you are looking for, as they make up 70% of service-intent searches.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t bid on any service keywords or use any of your SEO efforts toward fixed ops, though. It is just important to recognize that these general keywords are bringing in the majority of this traffic. Having this knowledge also allows you to better understand your traffic for keywords like “Ford dealership” and how those searches and clicks play into both service and sales. When it comes down to it, increasing fixed ops leads will come from those same initiatives you are making for sales traffic.
Why Are You Seeing Direct Traffic Increases?
Direct traffic is exactly what it sounds like: someone going straight to your website’s URL without performing a search or clicking on an ad to get there. However, this doesn’t always mean someone typed in your entire URL. In episode 9 of High Performance, Zach talked about some other ways people may be navigating to your website that Google might view as direct traffic in your analytics.
One example of this is if you do not tag a URL in your email campaign. If someone then opens the email from their mail app and clicks on the URL, all that is being seen is that the browser opened and went directly to your website. This is why it is recommended to always tag email campaigns. You will also see direct traffic from those who begin typing in your business’ name on their phone’s browser and click on the URL when it comes up as suggested. There are also cases in which a redirect gets blurred, and Google can’t identify where the traffic came from; this will be put in the direct traffic bucket.
Finally, a common reason for an increase in direct traffic, and one that has been increasingly more prevalent in the last few years: bot traffic. A lot of bot traffic, whether it is there with malicious intent or is simply a crawler that is not being excluded from your traffic, will increase your direct traffic. This reason is a bit easier to identify, though, as you will notice random blips of increased direct traffic here and there. Once identified, you can filter this out to get a more accurate reading of your direct traffic. All in all, there are various reasons your direct traffic might be increasing. To ensure you are looking at the most accurate data, find the source of the increase, which could be one of the things Zach discussed.
That’s a Wrap On High Performance Series 2
As always, Zach brought a lot of important information to the table this month. To recap: Performance Max ads, VLAs, and traditional paid search all have a place in the automotive digital marketing space but should be closely monitored in order to make the most out of them. Increasing fixed ops leads doesn’t always mean utilizing service-specific keywords. And finally, direct traffic increases can be caused by a variety of factors, including untagged email campaigns, Google suggestions, convoluted redirects, and bot traffic.
All of that wraps up High Performance Series 2! However, this isn’t an end to the learning. Make sure to keep an eye out for SEO Climb with Dave Estey Series 2 coming to Facebook, LinkedIn, and right here on our website very soon. But if you have any questions about this month’s video series topics or want a second set of eyes on your website, contact us today. We would be happy to help you crush your competition!