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Organic Traffic is Misunderstood By Auto Dealers


When automotive marketing professionals invest the time to configure Google Analytics (GA) properly, new insights can be obtained into their marketing strategy. Data analysis can inspire new strategies to increase showroom traffic and profits.

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When marketing managers look at all the channels that are producing conversions and highly engaged traffic on their dealership Website, reports often show that organic traffic is one of the most popular. Have you ever analyzed what generates organic traffic for auto dealers? It may not be what you originally thought.

Dealership managers will often relate increases in organic traffic to their SEO content strategies. While developing custom content is important for online marketing, the majority of organic visits are not from the dealer’s unique content.

Understanding Organic Traffic

Included in organic traffic are clicks from the Google My Business (GMB) knowledge panel, which appears when a consumer searches the dealership’s name. I recommend placing a UTM tag on the Website link to differentiate GMB traffic from other organic traffic.


Dealers should have a strong local SEO strategy to optimize directory listing sites. I wish more dealers had the interest to build sustainable content on their Websites, since the majority of their Website pages die every 30 to 60 days. Without additional content, a dealership Website has very little evergreen content for Google to index and rank in search results.

The organic traffic channel in GA hides the impact of radio, television, newspaper and third-party classifieds. If a dealer launches a new cable TV promotion, for example, their traffic will often increase. The increase is not from SEO strategies but because more people searched the dealer’s name after watching the advertisement.


If a consumer finds a vehicle on or, and then later searches the dealer’s name, the traffic once again will come into GA as organic traffic. Third-party classifieds only get credit for visitors who click on a link on a third-party VDP and go directly to the dealer’s Website.

GA Does Show Offsite Attribution

When you configure GA’s Multi-Channel Funnels, you can see the influence of paid search clearly because clicks send consumers directly to the dealer’s Website. Unfortunately, dealers cannot see the full influence of third-party classifieds because the majority of shoppers visit the dealer’s Website and showroom without ever clicking on a direct link from a classified listing VDP. Consumers introduced to the dealer’s inventory offsite on classified portals will often visit the dealer’s Website via organic and direct traffic channels.


Robust Sales Attribution Modeling Is Needed

GA is a powerful tool for automotive marketing managers, but new technology and tools are desperately needed to help dealers understand the full impact of their marketing decisions. The good news is that new strategies and research on sales attribution are now being developed. For more information about using GA to its fullest for your dealership, contact me at the address above.

Brian Pasch

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