A few months ago, VP of Performance and Sales here at Wikimotive, Zach Billings, went in-depth on a number of automotive SEO topics in his High Performance video series. Now, he’s back again to talk about even more. Kicking off the second series, Zach discussed something everyone’s wondering about: how dealerships in other parts of the country outrank you on your own turf. And as the month went on, he got into some more interesting topics of interest, like whether more traffic is always better and if you can use the AI tool, ChatGPT, to write content for your website.
These are some must-see videos filled with information you need to know in order to best understand your dealership’s online success (or lack thereof). If you missed an episode or two, though, and want to catch up, here’s a recap of everything Zach went over this month.
Why Do Dealerships Across the Country Outrank Me?
If you’ve ever noticed dealerships from other states, or even all the way across the country, ranking above you within your territory, you’re not alone. In Episode 1 of the High Performance video series, Zach explains why this may happen. Several factors are at play, including search intent, location, and even inventory levels at varying dealerships.
Here’s a quick breakdown that could help you determine the cause if this is happening to your dealership:
It is most likely that the keywords for which you are being outranked are those that fall under the “informational” category. These would be queries such as “F-150 towing capacity” and “BMW warning lights.” Because the answers to these queries are likely valuable coming from anywhere, Google will serve the searcher the best answer, period. The number one spot for these types of queries is often held by a page that is ranking nationally.
On the other hand, and more importantly, if you are outranked by further-away dealerships for transactional keywords like “used cars for sale,” you may have something to consider. This could be happening for a couple of different reasons. The most obvious reason is that they simply have more to offer than you do; their inventory page is ranking because they have more vehicles on their lot. If Google identifies a large inventory, it is possible that the site will be served to consumers, as having lots of options is often what a user wants. When looking at the “used cars for sale” keyword, a good solution for this would be to combine your pre-owned inventory with the other dealerships in your group, serving users all of your options and proving to Google that you, too, “have it.”
If the page that is outranking your dealership is not inventory and is a piece of content, this means that your competitor has content dedicated to this keyword that is more unique, longer, and more consumer-focused than yours. How do you fix this? By simply working on your own content to meet each of those three criteria better than your competitors have. When push comes to shove, that’s usually the answer. High-quality content marketing is what will help you increase your ranking, whether transactional or informational.
Is More Traffic Always Better?
In Episode 2 of High Performance, Zach talks about numbers. When it comes to selling cars, isn’t that what it is all about? Vehicles sold, money made; everything in the business revolves around numbers. That said, everything isn’t always as simple as “if the numbers go up, we are doing better.” In fact, there are cases in which more traffic to your website does not actually indicate business growth.
In general, more traffic is needed when it comes to converting more users to leads and leads to in-person visits and sales. However, if you are seeing your traffic numbers go up, you can’t assume that there is more opportunity within it. What this means is that when it comes to traffic, you should be focusing on quality over quantity. The goal is to attract users looking to purchase or schedule service with your dealership. Remember those transactional keywords we discussed? Bringing in traffic from those users, people looking to take a test drive or shop for a car, rather than those looking to perform research, is key.
You can see an increase in traffic flow to your website for a number of reasons, but the most important piece is the quality of it. Is the traffic actually looking to visit your dealership to utilize your services? That is the traffic you want. So, while selling cars is often a number game, traffic is more of a quality game.
Why Did I Start Getting a Lot of Out-of-State Traffic in 2022?
Was there a glitch in the matrix? Why did you start getting a bunch of out-of-state traffic on your website on a seemingly random day in 2022? No glitch; there was actually a reason for this, which Zach explained in High Performance Episode 3. Of course, there is always the chance that your blog posts focused on more informational topics, like a spec breakdown of the new Ram 1500 or the importance of an oil change, got more traffic because, as learned from previous episodes, these topics often have “national rankers.”
However, there was another factor at play in 2022: Apple. If you saw our 2022 SEO Year in Review podcast back in January, this may sound familiar. In May of 2022, we started noticing some odd traffic patterns; there was a ton of traffic coming to our client’s dealership websites from out of state. In further research, it was discovered that traffic was coming from a major city within the timezone of a dealership. For example, a dealership in Eastern Time saw a traffic increase coming from New York City.
Turns out, Apple’s new Private Relay system changed its policy to automatically enroll users in a policy that obscures location data by setting a user’s location to the time zone location they have in the settings of their phone. Meaning, anyone who set up their phone and picked New York City as their time zone is now going to show up as traffic from that location. And because of Apple’s large share of the smartphone market, this change made a huge difference in the traffic data we look at and analyze. With this change, you can simply classify traffic coming from within your timezone as in-market going forward; it’s safe to assume that these users are in your general vicinity.
GA4? What’s All the Fuss About?
It’s possible you’ve shoved the idea of GA4 into the back of your mind. To be fair, we’ve been hearing about it for a long time now. But if you check out the High Performance Episode 4, you’ll quickly understand the fuss. Google Analytics 4 is the new version of GA that has existed since 2020 and will soon be the only option; Universal Analytics is being phased out.
As of July 2023, you will need to transition over from using UA to using GA4, as UA will no longer be collecting data. Hopefully, you have already had a GA4 account set up for a while, allowing you to collect some important historical data to prepare for the switch. You can also look back at some of the data UA previously collected, but it’s important to note that with GA4 comes a number of changes. Looking at the two tools will not be like comparing apples to other apples.
GA4 may require you to set up custom reports in order to get the information you need. Conversions are also measured differently in this new version. In UA, we measure conversions through goals, which are set up based on the events that trigger when using certain tools on a website. In GA4, however, these events will look different, requiring them to be read and tagged in a new way. Luckily, there are vendors who are looking to standardize the events, allowing for a more simple and easy way of understanding and monitoring conversions.
As we say goodbye to UA and hello to GA4, consider taking some time to get used to the new format. If you haven’t already, get your GA4 account set up. Then, take a look around in there. Get an idea of what is different, what you may want custom reports for, and how everything is measured and tracked. This preview will set you up for success when the transition officially happens in July.
Can I Use ChatGPT to Scale My SEO Content?
Speaking of tools, it’s likely you’ve been here all about these ones: artificial intelligence, ChatGPT, and Bard… they have been the talk of every town over the last few months. And in High Performance Episode 5, Zach gets into their ability to tackle content. This is something we have been talking about in our blog lately, so his response to the question, “Can I use ChatGPT to scale my SEO content?” shouldn’t be a surprise.
The answer? Yes and no. While this AI tool is fast and can give you some great starting points, it certainly has its limitations. In fact, they are listed right on the site’s home page:
- May occasionally generate incorrect information
- May occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content
- Limited knowledge of the world and events after 2021
Right here is proof that you should not be relying on ChatGPT to create accurate, unbiased, or up-to-date content for your website. Even beyond the listed pitfalls that the tool gives us, there are some issues with utilizing it for content purposes. The best way to rank for a query on Google is to have the best answer, which means originality and depth. If everyone is using ChatGPT to write content surrounding a keyword, the content is eventually going to look the same among all of these websites. Therefore, no one has the upper hand, and the person writing their own unique content will outperform everyone.
This doesn’t mean that ChatGPT isn’t a useful tool. You can certainly have ChatGPT write an example piece of content that you are going to fact-check and change to best meet user needs. This content will require heavy edits, but having the initial article written by ChatGPT can help spark ideas and give you a general format. Just don’t take AI content and publish it right on your website; you won’t get anywhere with that.
More High Performance Episodes Coming Soon!
Zach covered tons of topics in the month of May. This series of High Performance is getting even more in-depth than the first! That said, there is still so much more to learn, so stay tuned. New episodes come out every Tuesday at 8 AM on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even right here on the Wikimotive website. And if you have any questions about anything you’ve learned from May’s episodes, contact us for more information. We are ready to help you crush your competition!