Cars.com Have you looked at your dealers' SEO rankings since March 12th 2019?

Alexander Lau

Sr. Refresher
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex
Thanks @Alexander Lau unfortunately there are no fixes with core algorithm updates like the one that occurred on March 12th 2019.

Following the 3/12 update Google restated that with broad core search engine algorithm updates "There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

Naturally time will tell. A great article explaining why no fixes can be implemented this time around can be found at the following: https://searchengineland.com/google-has-released-a-broad-core-search-algorithm-update-this-week-313905
Hope it helps!
I disagree, they'll change their focus and strategy to adapt with the "core" algorithmic changes. I don't buy a goddamn thing that comes out of Google's mouths. I've found lies upon lies over the years. That which they say will hurt you doesn't; that which they say will help you fails to make a dent. Blatant duplication of front page content that is rarely penalized, etc., etc.

Are you going to come back in two months once they're back to their normal rankings?

I'll say it again:

What does Google want? They want relevant, real content on the internet that people want to read and tell other people about. If Google doesn’t bring you the most relevant content when you search, they aren’t doing their job. So by definition, even the word Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means to “game” the Google search engines (and others) to get your valuable content ranked higher than it would be if left alone to the forces of the Web. The bottom line is that all external SEO efforts are counterfeit other than: writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search, within a quality user experience.

We can sit around and act like we're not trying to take advantage of Google's algorithm (would be a lie), but the fact of the matter, they change it up because SEO groups get VERY GOOD at manipulating it for organic ranking purposes. Google is quite happy fiddling with their algorithm for "best practice" reasons, but in reality, they just want to convolute the ranking equation process in order to get you to BUY more of their PAID AD space. Now that the space (itself) has been limited, it's even more competitive.
 

Alexander Lau

Sr. Refresher
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex
And there's that...
It's important to establish a distinction in the reports between a percentage of change compared to a prior period versus the variable trended. Say for example you hear a city's murder rate is up 266% versus last year, at first glance it sounds like a war zone right?

That could be 3 in 2017 and 11 in 2018, so in this case the percentage of 266% over-emphasizes the change versus the underlying values.

This makes a provider starting from a lower prior period look better in YOY change when the totals are a different story. It it feels like data spin...
 

Alexander Lau

Sr. Refresher
Feb 11, 2015
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Alex
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is arguably the most important marketing tactic for dealerships today, yet still remains the slowest and most confusing of all channels to master.

But that free area of Google (the results without the ‘Ad’ label next to them) cannot be ignored. Especially when 90% of Google clicks within our industry occur within the organic (free/unpaid) area of its search results, placing utmost importance for all within our industry to elevate organic ranking visibility.

Making a difficult job even harder is the constant shifting of the Google landscape, where algorithm updates can throw months of hard SEO work out of the window overnight.

Google did just that, shifting its landscape once again on March 12, 2019 with significant changes that shook the automotive industry. Their algorithm update and the resulting fallout was drastic. Some of our closest competitors lost over 20% of their organic traffic overnight – that’s MILLIONS of lost site visits!

Why did some sites within our industry win and others lose? Google continually encourages site owners to offer the best content possible. That’s what their algorithm updates seek to reward.

What can you do? Check out following video we put together at Cars.com and Dealer Inspire which offers some practical and realistic SEO pointers to help you navigate this critical channel for your business:

Below: Average ranking for the competitive set leads to clear winners & losers | Source: SEMRush
View attachment 4103
Are you using SEMRush or the like to get that data?

Tools like SEMRush won’t scrape every website because many sites use proxies to block scrapers and while many sites may block scrapers from using their keywords or searching their blog metadata, for example, Google Ads are less likely to be blocked. I'd lay your trust in paid and not organic with them or one of their competitors.
 
Mar 28, 2019
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David
There are an array of excellent SEO/competitive tools on the market to utilize in tracking a website's SEO health (some expensive, some not so). Like a doctor conducting a health check a prudent SEO will rely on a combination of data points and tools, not just one to formulate an accurate assessment (especially on the magnitude relating to the 3/12 Google update)! Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, SerpStat, Brightedge, Hitwise, Conductor, SiteImprove are all competitive monitoring tools that organizations will leverage to gauge the SEO health of themselves and the competitive set, many at one time to draw accurate conclusions (a useful list of SEO competitive monitoring tools can be found at https://www.g2crowd.com/categories/seo if interested). We have leveraged 7+ SEO tools in our recent analysis which all show the exact same trends for the competitive set. Again, like a doctor, we do not just look at one data point, the below, which is just a small sample are all examined to formulate robust, concrete SEO conclusions.

A sample of metrics examined when conducting an SEO health check for the individual site or competitor:
Ranking; monitoring on an average, individual level and aggregate position distribution level (i.e. ranking in the top 3 positions, 4-10 etc), top/lowest traffic driving terms, value of top driving traffic terms, SEO visibility/share of voice (gains/losses), marketing channel mix, volume of keywords competitor is ranking for, keyword gaps/opportunities, organic traffic search estimates, international organic traffic search estimates, average SEO traffic value, backlinks (volume/quality/new/lost/referring domains/referring countries, anchor text and more) mobile/desktop break outs, paid spend estimates, top landing pages, featured snippet trends.

I hope it helps!
 

Alexander Lau

Sr. Refresher
Feb 11, 2015
2,149
585
113
First Name
Alex
There are an array of excellent SEO/competitive tools on the market to utilize in tracking a website's SEO health (some expensive, some not so). Like a doctor conducting a health check a prudent SEO will rely on a combination of data points and tools, not just one to formulate an accurate assessment (especially on the magnitude relating to the 3/12 Google update)! Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, SerpStat, Brightedge, Hitwise, Conductor, SiteImprove are all competitive monitoring tools that organizations will leverage to gauge the SEO health of themselves and the competitive set, many at one time to draw accurate conclusions (a useful list of SEO competitive monitoring tools can be found at https://www.g2crowd.com/categories/seo if interested). We have leveraged 7+ SEO tools in our recent analysis which all show the exact same trends for the competitive set. Again, like a doctor, we do not just look at one data point, the below, which is just a small sample are all examined to formulate robust, concrete SEO conclusions.

A sample of metrics examined when conducting an SEO health check for the individual site or competitor:
Ranking; monitoring on an average, individual level and aggregate position distribution level (i.e. ranking in the top 3 positions, 4-10 etc), top/lowest traffic driving terms, value of top driving traffic terms, SEO visibility/share of voice (gains/losses), marketing channel mix, volume of keywords competitor is ranking for, keyword gaps/opportunities, organic traffic search estimates, international organic traffic search estimates, average SEO traffic value, backlinks (volume/quality/new/lost/referring domains/referring countries, anchor text and more) mobile/desktop break outs, paid spend estimates, top landing pages, featured snippet trends.

I hope it helps!
You're starting to smell spammy. Are you trying to sell us on something?
Most of us that have worked extensively in SEO know these techniques and tools.

The again, Cars might have some deal with this website. I get it, LOL!
 
Last edited:
Apr 3, 2019
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Jim
Thanks David - very interesting posts by all. Your competitors came to our dealers yesterday and said that your company was misrepresenting information. Namely, that the data above was based on a sample of 4k keywords. For example, on another thread, a poster showed the slide that Carfax has been calling all of us dealers about showing they increased the most and you didn't; their data was based on 20k keywords. Cargurus says they optimize to millions of keywords and when you do that there is no drop. Hence, there's been no real change, just in presentation. Further, on google's own website, they show cargurus being a big winner in one place, with google showing cargurus gained 14% in the week after the update. See here: https://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/google-core-algorithm-update-march-2019/

And on a later post/podcast by google, they showed different numbers, having CARS dropping 1% vs. your chart showing a large increase. Here is the quote and link: "When we look at some other websites, like cars.com, or, yeah actually one that-so cars.com, very minimal change. It was negative one percent,"

https://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/googles-march-2019-core-update/

Last, see below Carfax showing a +713% gain in traffic which basically substitutes themselves for CARS in the your chart, so they present the information as win by them. By the way: none of this is meant as criticism, you have been very helpful with your SEO knowledge - as dealers we are just trying to understand how to make sense of all these pieces of information. Thanks!

 

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JamieS

Refresher
Oct 12, 2011
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Jamie
You're starting to smell spammy. Are you trying to sell us on something?
Most of us that have worked extensively in SEO know these techniques and tools.
I would say that there is definitely a delicate dance being performed. But a route of passive education is being taken as opposed to outright direct claim-making or finger-pointing. It's a bold strategy Cotton, let's see if it pays off for them!
 
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Apr 3, 2019
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Mary-Grace
Interesting post. I was just about to ask the community who is doing the best job at SEO since we are looking for a new SEO partner. Unfortunately being a GM dealer we have the mandated CDK sites. But I hear that GM is vetting some new websites by the end of this year.

So with this change in SEO what direction should dealers take and who is on top of the game with this changes that dealers should look at.
Eley,
Dealer Inspire is now an approved SEO vendor or GM - if you search the threads here I'm sure you'll find many fans of our holistic and competitive SEO offerings. The best part is that DI started as an SEO agency, so we always (have and will) follow Google's best practice guidelines, so updates like this don't scare our clients.

The rules for dealers, and really all websites, stay the same - focus on the user, create useful, informative content, keep your site fast and healthy. Those seeing significant fallout from this update generally weren't following the guidelines.


Mary-Grace Wilson
SEO Director
Dealer Inspire
 
Apr 3, 2019
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Jim
Hi Mary Grace: Just to clarify as we have GM dealerships, they have told us you are not qualified as a website provider, only for your LDM product and a few others like Online Shopper. Don't get me wrong: We think your service is terrific and are looking forward to whenever GM allows us to use it, and with IMR dollars - but our rep says that's not the case yet. Further our rep said 3/31 was the cut off date for IMR dollars. Do you know how much longer until we can switch to Dealer Inspire as our website provider? Further, as it relates to this thread, Cargurus sells a SEO/SEM product as do you, but it looks like they are not doing well in SEO and DI and cars.com are: is Cargurus a vendor for GM as well with IMR dollars? And shouldn't you be much stronger if the data David displays is true given your SEO tactics would appear to work best?
 
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