Sending targeted, organic traffic to a car dealership’s website can prove to be a beneficial strategy when implemented the right way. Using this approach to attract potential customers who are already actively searching for keywords related to your automotive business can increase conversions on your website, get more people through your dealership’s door and support overall sales.
We analyzed the websites of more than 250 Porsche and Ferrari dealerships across the United States to compile research findings based on each website’s SEO metrics. Among those findings, strengths, weaknesses, gaps and opportunities were identified. Our research and subsequent findings highlighted clear winners and losers. Most importantly, we identified the SEO strategies that are essential for car dealerships to achieve success in digital marketing as well as common mistakes to avoid.
Let’s go deeper.
Our research base included 229 Porsche dealership websites and 41 Ferrari dealership websites. There was a large amount of data to sift through, but we leveraged complex formulas to simplify the data, visualize the outcomes and obtain scores for each of the following categories:
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Domain authority is a measurement used to determine the strength of domain or URL. A key factor in domain authority is the quality of a website’s backlink profile. A link profile includes all of the websites currently linking to your website.
Ironically, this is also a key factor in a website’s search engine ranking.
Instead of thinking of domain authority as strictly a measurement used to score your SEO efforts, think of it as a metric used to score your site against the strength of other automotive dealer websites.
When you compare your website’s domain authority score with your competitors’ scores, the website with the higher domain authority score is more likely to rank higher in search engine result pages. Why? Because when sites link to your website it means they deem yours as a credible source. The more links you have, the more credible search engines perceive your website and Google and Bing are always working to show credible sources when a user searches for any given term.
We analyzed car dealership websites to gain a deeper understanding of the average domain authority score in the automotive digital marketing niche. Our research findings will give you a number to strive for as you work to improve your own domain authority score.
We used a combination of citation flow and trust flow to compile scores and find trends.
Citation Flow, a trademark of Majestic, is a score between 0-100 which helps measure the link equity or "power" a website or link carries. It represents an evolutionary leap from the old metric, ACRank, and predicts how influential a URL is based on how many sites link to it. Links are not all created with equal weight and, because a strong link will have a relatively stronger influence on URLs, Citation Flow is based on stronger, iterative mathematical logic than the old metric of ACRank.
Trust Flow is used in conjunction with Citation Flow. Trust Flow, also a trademark of Majestic, is a score between 0-100 based on quality. Majestic collated many trusted seed sites based on a manual review of the web, a process which forms the foundation of Majestic Trust Flow. Sites closely linked to a trusted seed site have higher scores, whereas sites that may have some questionable links have lower scores.
Together, the Citation Flow and Trust Flow form the Majestic Flow Metrics algorithm.
(score ranges from 0 to 100, the higher the score the better)
Figure 1: Domain Authority of Ferrari Dealer Websites
Figure 2: Domain Authority of Porsche Dealer Websites
As you can see, the domain authority of Porsche dealership websites are higher than Ferrari dealership websites. However, one can surmise this might be due to the fact that they carry and sell multiple manufacturer brands and, therefore, have a greater opportunity to build domain authority for website pages dedicated to each of those brands.
The average domain authority for Porsche and Ferrari is 22.8 and 22.0 respectively. This shows that overall when looking at a large set of websites, the average domain authority is nearly the same.
Additionally, we checked how a website’s domain authority affects the volume of organic web traffic it receives.
Our analysis found that sites with higher domain authority scores receive more web traffic than those with lower scores.
It’s important to note this is not the only factor that goes into determining search engine rankings but this correlation clearly shows domain authority has considerable influence.
If you’ve performed an analysis on your own website’s domain authority score and the result was lower than ideal, you might be wondering how you can improve your score to improve rankings for your automotive website. There are ways to offset a low score.
A mobile-responsive website with speed that’s up to par with Google’s latest algorithm update can help tremendously. The site should also be user-friendly, easy to navigate and follow a convenient navigation structure.
Incorporating highly competitive terms into your keyword strategy can seem like a good idea at first. But, it can backfire when every other car dealership and automotive website optimizing for those exact keywords. Start by choosing keywords that have a lower competition level and build your pages around those.
People will be visiting your website because they have a specific need or question. If your website can give them the answer to a question, you’ll be rewarded by Google. Unique, relevant and incredibly useful content means search engines will continue to rank your website higher than other, less-relevant sites.
In addition to providing unique, relevant and useful content, think about ways you can take it a step further to enhance the value it brings to someone visiting your site. You can do this by including expert recommendations, car reviews, informational videos, tables, charts, and helpful filters for on-site searches to improve UX.
Optimizing for rich snippet content in addition to the standard items in search results like title tags and meta descriptions can set you apart from the competition. Rich snippets show extra information between the URL and meta description and can increase click-through-rates.
The best way to impact and improve your website’s domain authority score is to institute best practices for SEO as soon as possible and stick with your SEO strategy for the long-term. This includes link-building strategies, on-page optimization, content marketing and building a credible digital presence through social media marketing.
Search visibility determines how websites are ranked in search engines organically, what results are seen with paid search campaigns in Google Ads, and the volume of organic and paid traffic.
Search engine optimization and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can maximize website traffic and improve conversion opportunities through keyword rankings. Creating quality content around niche concepts and phrases that a car dealership’s target audience uses regularly or searches for in Google or Bing is a great place to start.
This allows brands to increase monthly traffic and increase qualified conversions based on the type of consumer research their content development efforts are guided by.
(score ranges from 0 to 100, the higher the score the better)
Figure 3: Search Visibility of Ferrari Dealer Websites
Figure 4: Search Visibility of Porsche Dealer Websites
As shown in Figure 4, autonation.com has the highest search visibility score across Porsche websites with it’s wealth of resources and high volume of organic traffic. It has three times the organic traffic as other Porsche dealer websites and ranks for twice as many organic keywords as the second top website, porschedealer.com. However, autonation.com is an online marketplace for new and used cars of all brands, not only Porsche.
As shown in Figure 3, the Ferrari website with the highest search visibility score receives much of its traffic from Google Ads - 2.5 times as much as other Ferrari dealership websites - but sees minimal traffic from organic search sources. Due to the high paid traffic numbers, algarferrari.com came in at #1 in our search visibility rankings.
Overall, Porsche dealer websites outperform Ferrari dealer websites in search visibility. That means Porsche dealers are more prepared for the long-term, search engine optimization race.
This analysis proves the importance of comparing your website with the websites of direct competitors. Our analysis shows how much web traffic the best Porsche and Ferrari receive from search engines. To get the most out of this research, analyze the leaders to use as a benchmark in building your own digital marketing strategy.
Increasing the volume of traffic to a website is a goal for all digital marketers and, thankfully, there are ways to reach that goal.
Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising across relevant websites are all great ways of attracting your target audience. The targeting capabilities let marketers reach the people online who are most likely to buy from them.
Being proactive when it comes to social media is a must-have. Digital marketers must be where their audience spends time online. Plus, various social platforms have offerings specifically for automotive dealerships.
Facebook has recently announced the addition of Messenger ads and Marketplace ads for auto dealers digital marketing. The Marketplace ads are in addition to the existing Marketplace inventory listings which were announced in October of 2017.
Outside of Facebook, there are also opportunities for unique placement opportunities on Snapchat, where car dealers can design and deploy geo-targeted filters for special events and sales.
A content marketing strategy serves two main purposes: it helps you create content that your audience will benefit from and it keeps your content focused on keywords and phrases that can improve your search engine rankings.
Elements like meta descriptions, title tags, alt text for images and optimized page copy is a big factor in improving your overall search engine rankings. Start at the basics with these on-page elements and you should see improvements.
As previously mentioned, websites that link to your website show search engines that your page is credible and useful. It also gets your website in front of more eyes. Investing the time to guest posts, interviews with industry thought leaders and forming relationships with other trusted sources to promote your content can improve your search visibility.
Credibility goes a long way in search visibility. That’s why promotion on local listings and business pages like Google My Business, Yelp and Yellow Pages is still extremely important to visibility in search engines and online in general.
Keeping your local business listings updated with your company name, physical address, phone number and business category improves your chances of showing up on the Google’s map in search results.
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On-page optimization refers to actions taken directly on a website or webpage to improve how it’s scored by search engines. Our on-page SEO score identifies to what degree meta tags, headings, page content, and page loading speed are optimized. These are key metrics that show whether a website ultimately has a chance to compete in Google - or whether it will fall behind more advanced competitors.
When various website elements are optimized to align with how search engines evaluate and rank websites, the chances of visibility and higher rankings is greater.
A website’s title tag is by far the most important element in terms of website optimization. A title tag tells search engines and users the title of a specific web page. It should be short but descriptive enough for your visitors to identify you and your business.
Since a title tag is the first element that’s indexed by search engines and shown to users, it’s of very high importance. Out of thousands of results a searchers sees, your website’s title tag needs to be appealing and enticing - enough to encourage them to want to find out more information about your dealership. At the same time, your title tag needs to balance what search engines want. It should be attractive to the search engines so you’re site is ranked above thousands of other similar websites vying for the top spot.
A website’s meta description contains a brief description of your website or web page, focusing on the areas and services your business specializes in. This bite-size piece of content can be considered as a selling snippet. If a searcher finds your meta description appealing enough, they are more likely to click through to find out more information. But, if your meta description is too generic - or non-existent - and isn’t well-written there’s a good chance searchers will skip over and ignore your website.
The same is true as search engines evaluate and rate your website. If your meta description contains the keywords and keyphrases you want to rank well for, you’ll be more likely to earn a higher position above competitors.
It’s necessary to highlight certain parts of your website that you want your readers to quickly and easily spot as they scan the content your site has to offer. Similarly, header tags help you tell search engines which parts of your web page are most important and which ones should be indexed first.
There are several HTML tags which allow you to call attention to these sections.
For example, to emphasize specific text on a page use the following header tag hierarchy: <h1>, <h2>, <h3> and so on. The h1 tag should be the most important text on a page, followed by h2. The content you define as headers is emphasized to both searchers and search engines and should be used to define the page/post titles of subsequent sections of your website you deem relevant and important.
In our research and analysis, the content is the main content on the page, which should contain more comprehensive information for website visitors. Therefore, it’s important to create unique content targeted at the specific audience you’re speaking to. Headings, meta descriptions, title tags and pictures aren’t the only elements search engines will be evaluating, so it’s important to provide users with relevant, useful and optimized page content to rank well in the search engines.
The rate at which a website loads influences visitor behavior as well as a site’s position in the search engines. Research indicates 53% of people will leave a webpage if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Additionally, it’s critical to optimize site speed for mobile users and users with limited Internet connections.
(score ranges from 0 to 100, the higher the score the better)
Figure 5: On-Page Optimization Score of Ferrari Dealer Websites
Figure 6: On-Page Optimization Score of Porsche Dealer Websites
For on-page optimization, Porsche dealership websites surpassed Ferrari dealership websites with a 10-point score difference. Not only was the final score higher though. In all areas of on-page optimization elements that are evaluated by search engines, Porsche dealer websites outdid Ferrari. These websites are better optimized which means they rank higher, have more traffic from organic traffic and have greater domain authority.
But, what we don’t see reflected here is a clear correlation between on-page optimization and web traffic volume. Of course, well-optimized websites have a higher search visibility score, but this research proves that optimizing a website alone isn’t enough to outperform competitor websites in the automotive industry. A more definitive indicator in this niche is the domain authority score, which does have a clear correlation with search visibility.
Our research also found that large websites with a network of smaller, microsites and high traffic volumes have plenty of gaps in on-page optimization, so their score is lower than average. This means that these sites have the potential for growth and development in terms of SEO, but they aren’t quite living up to their potential. If you manage a website that already gets a lot of traffic to it and you aren’t sure how to increase traffic and improve rankings, perform an on-page optimization audit and fix the issues and gaps. This exercise will let you see the difference in your traffic numbers as well as the growth of your customer base.
There are many ways to improve your optimization score for on-page elements and various approaches to take. However, these are a few of the most important ones that can help you yield the best results.
A mobile-friendly website is one that correctly displays on mobile phone & hand-held devices such as tablets, etc. Also known as responsive web design, these website designs will “respond” to any device or screen size, be it your cell phone or your 46″ LCD screen. This makes for a streamlined experience when viewing the website across various displays.
Google wants to provide the best experience for its users by ranking websites based on how user-friendly they are. The mobile experience of your website is now a key factor in this evaluation, and more specifically, your website responsiveness.
The Mobile Optimization score is calculated by combining the Mobile-Friendly Score and Mobile Speed Score.
This research will help Porsche and Ferrari dealerships understand the average mobile optimization score, how the score affects search engine rankings and steps to take to improve their own mobile optimization score.
(score ranges from 0 to 100, the higher the score the better)
Figure 7: Mobile Optimization Score of Ferrari Dealer Websites
Figure 8: Mobile Optimization Score of Porsche Dealer Websites
Several Ferrari dealership websites are not optimal for viewing across multiple device types and screen sizes, so the Porsche dealership websites also win for mobile optimization.
Given mobile optimization was included in one of Google’s most recent updates to its ranking algorithm, this is a very important indicator. If you’ve optimized your on-page elements properly, have a relevant and high-quality backlink profile, but have low positions try checking your website’s mobile optimization to see if that’s where the problem exists.
It's essential to check the mobile preview of your homepage as well as all landing pages, blog posts and other miscellaneous pages. Additional, check websites of your competitors who have high rankings and traffic and continue to work on mobile optimization improvements.
Ask yourself if your website is optimal to be viewed across various screen sizes. If it’s not responsive, it needs to be so it’s best to start thinking about the plan to update to a responsive website.
Check website load time to ensure it’s less than 3 seconds. Google released research showing the average time it takes to fully load the average mobile landing page is 22 seconds. But, as mentioned earlier, people will leave a web page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Include only necessary information to avoid cluttering the mobile version of your website. This approach also appeals to how people view websites as attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.
Pop-ups are not mobile-friendly so exclude them for any mobile version of your website. They can also slow down page load speed so it’s best to avoid them.
Buttons that are too small and difficult to press when viewing from a mobile device or tablet are going to hurt your mobile optimization score. If website visitors can’t complete a certain action, they’ll leave your site and this will affect your overall rankings too.
Additionally, highlight and bring attention to your call-to-actions across your website so they aren’t ignored or skipped over.
Any action a website visitor needs to take on your website should be simplified for the mobile experience. This includes completion forms and navigating. Remember, keep it simple!
Overall rank score combines domain authority, search visibility, on-page optimization, and mobile optimization into a single score that takes each of these factors into account.
(score ranges from 0 to 100, the higher the score the better)
Figure 9: Overall Score of Ferrari Dealer Websites
Figure 10: Overall Score of Porsche Dealer Websites
Porsche won this match and walked away with the top spot for overall rank! Of course, there are much more Porsche dealership websites included in our research and analysis of findings. However, the average scores were calculated to anyone could have taken the top spot.
Porsche dealership websites are better according to all our metrics included in this study.
As with any research study, there are key takeaways from the analysis and subsequent findings. Below is a compilation of those as we looked deeper into the most successful Porsche and Ferrari dealership websites to assess their digital marketing effectiveness.
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As we performed our research, we uncovered additional tidbits of information that can be helpful for many automotive website digital strategies.
These statistics show that Porsche dealership websites rank for more organic keywords, while Ferrari dealerships invest in paid search and, as a result, see more traffic from paid channels.
Figure 11: Most popular keywords for Porsche and Ferrari dealership websites
We also reviewed dealers’ websites for relevant content for this popular set of searches.
Figure 12: Websites with relevant pages for popular searches
To understand the chart from Figure 12, let’s use the ‘Latest models’ keyword as an example:
We checked to see if Ferrari dealership websites have relevant web pages for “latest ferrari models.” We also checked Porsche dealership websites to see if there are relevant web pages for “latest porsche models.” A total of 400 websites were reviewed. In this example, 320 websites did have relevant web pages for the associated “latest models” terms.
We also found that some searches are completely neglected by dealers because their websites don’t have relevant web pages. The least amount of websites had relevant web pages for terms like: configurator, cheapest, most expensive. These terms are also some of the most popular search terms.
Figure 13: Correlation between search visibility score vs. total keywords ranking
When reviewing the broader picture, many dealers with a high search visibility score (a lot of search traffic to the website) have relevant pages for most of these searches we checked above.
What does this mean? We discovered an incredibly useful finding for your automotive digital marketing strategy. It’s essential to include popular keywords relevant to this niche industry as well as perform comprehensive competitive analysis on their keywords to have the best search visibility score.
Another area of focus included reviewing the geographic locations of Porsche and Ferrari dealerships that have issues with domain authority - or low domain authority scores. Red dots represent a high domain authority score with a high concentration of dealers while green dots represent a low domain authority score with a low concentration of dealers.
Figure 14: Map showing geographic location of Porsche and Ferrari dealership websites’ domain authority scores
As you can see, Los Angeles and New York have the greatest number of Porsche and Ferrari dealership websites with low domain authority scores. Cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Houston and Dallas also have a high volume of dealerships with low domain authority scores.
We also reviewed the geographic locations of Porsche and Ferrari dealerships that have issues with search visibility - or low search visibility scores. Red dots represent a low search visibility score and yellow dots represent an average (but not great) search visibility score.
Figure 15: Map showing geographic location of Porsche and Ferrari dealership websites’ search visibility scores
As you can see, the majority of locations have decent search visibility scores. However, Dallas has the greatest number of Porsche and Ferrari dealership websites with low search visibility scores.
Figure 16: Map showing geographic location of all Porsche (yellow dots) and Ferrari (red dots) dealerships included in research