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SEO and Web Development Trends: 2020 Auto Industry Forecast

As we write this, many auto dealerships are in the midst of changing over their inventory from 2019 to 2020 models. It’s not just carmakers rolling out new features and advanced tech; Search engine optimization (SEO) and web development best practices change with each passing year, and for many of the same reasons. After all, like Ford or Porsche, Google wants to deliver a great experience to its users. And just as you’d stay on top of the latest safety features and infotainment updates, it helps to keep an up-to-date dealership website to better serve your customers. CarCasm is here to help — and these five trends are what we’re keeping a sharp eye on for 2020.


Semantic Search Evolves

Semantic search isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s taking on added urgency from an SEO standpoint. To understand why, you don’t need to look much further than the phone in your pocket, or the personal assistant devices sold by Amazon, Apple, and others. We’re just as prone to speak search terms, “telling” them to our smart devices, as we are to type them. In both cases, our speech patterns with our devices have the same familiarity we’d use when we’re talking to a friend. SEO for car dealerships is evolving to take into account plain language search strings, rather than exact keyword matches. 


Security Grows in Importance

It seems like hardly a week passes without news of a data breach. That makes even less-savvy web users wary of passing along personally identifying information and finances. Which, in turn, means that when a potential customer comes across your pre-qualification form for auto financing, or your trade-in valuator, they’re going to think twice before passing along information, throttling key lead sources and constricting your sales funnel. If your web hosting allows you to enable HTTPS, which serves secure versions of your pages, you should enable it. Likewise, make sure your sites are kept up to date with the latest security patches for your server, your PHP, and any plugins or widgets you may be using.


Teaching > Selling

This is something that car dealers should grasp intuitively; after all, we spend an awful lot of time explaining things to our customers. In fairness, it’s not just dealerships; businesses across the board are realizing that the newer search results pages displayed by Google and its competitors are rewarding those who educate. 


For an example, see the illustration that accompanies this article. When we search the 2020 Toyota Camry (or how to do an oil change, or whether we should buy snow tires versus all-weather tires), we’re finding more than search results; we’re getting some insight into how Google “thinks,” and what it thinks we’ll find useful. The official Toyota website is right up at the top of our results, as we’d expect. But we’re also seeing reviews, information on trim levels, other vehicles from the manufacturer, video explainers, and a series of questions that are commonly asked about the item in question. Optimize your site and your content strategy to take full advantage of this, educating instead of merely offering “content.” Your search results won’t change overnight, but you’ll gradually build an advantage over competing dealerships.


UX Demands Attention

UX is short for “user experience,” and encompasses the wide range of ways your customers experience your website. Fast load times matter, since a delay of even a second can raise your bounce rate and lose you a customer. Optimization for mobile is vital, too, because in this case it’s not just your customers who’ll walk; Google will penalize you, too. And navigation that’s clean and simple is important, since a good automotive website design doesn’t just inform your customers; it encourages a higher click-through rate, guides their behavior, and makes them thank you for it.


Fundamentals Still Matter

If you’re familiar with UX, you may be wondering why we’re putting it on a list of predictions for next year. The reason is simple. A lot changes from year to year when you’re getting a handle on SEO for the automotive industry, but for all the changes, there’s just as much — more, in fact — that remains fundamental. Clean HTML and CSS, content that’s engaging and informative, a wealth of properly-tagged images… none of these seek to reinvent the wheel, but we can’t afford to ignore them, either. One reason among many that CarCasm dealership websites are so effective is that they’re built on a strong foundation that takes care of those fundamentals, while remaining — and keeping you ready for — what comes next. Need a hand? Call us today!

Our promise as developers is to put quality work into every project while delivering professional expertise and most importantly exceptional customer service.

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