Hey Siri, OK Google, Alexa – tell me, how can my dealership successfully market to prospects who are using voice search to shop for a new car?
Compare that sentence with the way you’d normally type a query into a search engine to find that same information and you’ll start to understand how much dealership websites and other digital content needs to change to be effective in the world of voice search.
What you may not realize is how much we already live in that world – or at least, how much your prospective customers already do. Whether your dealership successfully engages with them is going to depend on how well you prepare for a voice search-driven future by reviewing, updating and expanding your dealership’s online content.
Dealers know the number of prospects reaching them through mobile devices has exploded in recent years – in 2018, Google noted that the number of mobile searches for brand-specific “SUV models” had grown by more than 90 percent since 2016. That’s a core component of the automotive shopping experience today for consumers.
The next step for consumers is moving from typing “SUV models” into their phone to simply asking the phone for information on those models, and that’s already starting to happen: Google reports more than a quarter of the world’s online population is using voice search right now on their mobile devices.
These searches will either connect with content on your website and drive those shoppers to you, or they won’t. The more voice searches that do connect, the more business you’ll be doing as a result. How much more business? Gartner, for one, predicts that brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search by 2021 will increase their digital commerce revenue by 30 percent.
In this post, we discuss how dealers can prepare for voice search marketing by first answering:
- What is voice search and why is it important to dealerships?
- How will voice search change the automotive industry and the car buying journey?
- What are some ways automotive dealerships can prepare and optimize for voice search?
What is voice search? Why is it important to car dealerships?
When you search for information by speaking to Siri, the Google Assistant, Alexa or some other app, that’s voice search. While the search engines and algorithms that underpin the process are roughly the same, the way the queries are framed and presented to users have significant differences that can be critical to dealerships attempting to engage online car buyers. .
With regards to the query, people don’t format voice searches the way they often do with relatively old-fashioned text queries typed into search engines. Instead, they simply ask a question, such as “How much does a new Mercedes A-Class cost?” or “Where is the closest Lexus dealer to me?” or “What is the trade-in value on my 2012 Ford Focus?”
In return, the search engines look for trustworthy web content that answers the user’s question as closely as possible. If the user asks, “How much does a new Mercedes A-Class cost?” then the voice assistant is going to be searching for a web page that has the equivalent of, “A new Mercedes-Benz A-Class costs $33,000” and directing the user to that page – and that page alone.
This means dealers looking to have users directed to their website need to review their web content and look for opportunities to either replace or add to existing content that does not present important information in full sentences to answer potential questions.
It’s also important to understand that while text search engine results present the user with a list of highest-rated results, voice search on mobile or on an assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or a Google Home device will frequently only give the user the top-rated result. These devices are becoming increasingly common parts of shoppers’ everyday lives, with more than one in ten Wi-Fi enabled homes in the country hosting a “smart speaker” device.
This places a massive priority on dealership search engine optimization (SEO) for the local market – if you’re not the top-rated result for common searches referencing your local city or region, then shoppers are heading directly to your competitors.
How will voice search change the automotive industry and the car buying journey?
Potential car buyers will be heading to those competitors more and more frequently because voice search is becoming an increasingly common method of shopping online.
It’s no secret that online research has quickly become a standard component of the automotive shopping journey. According to Google, 92 percent of car buyers research online before they buy.
In response, dealers have adapted. They’ve transitioned resources from traditional advertising into digital channels, they’ve invested in tools such as Market EyeQ’s predictive marketing solutions and auto dealer software to engage with consumers in their area, they’ve built out Business Development Centers (BDCs) to lead their online engagement efforts and more.
But the combination of technological innovation and increased integration of online resources into virtually every facet of our lives means dealers can’t sit back and consider their digital evolution to be complete. Voice search is the next adaptation dealers need to embrace if they want to continue to meet consumer expectations, as it’s a different way of connecting with potential buyers that comes with its own requirements and opportunities.
How to Optimize Your Dealership for Voice Search
Audit Your Site: The most basic method of preparing and optimizing your dealership for voice search is to review your website’s design and structure to ensure that critical content is presented in plain language that answers the kinds of questions your key prospects might be asking. This means avoiding presenting key information in images, in sentence fragments, in tables or other formats that a search engine cannot return as a result to a natural-language voice search.
Create FAQ Pages: A great tool for engaging with voice search is the classic “Frequently Asked Questions,” or FAQ, page. When you’re looking to host content that asks potential questions that are commonly asked in voice search by car shoppers, a page designed to answer frequently asked questions is extremely well suited to fill that role. Consider creating multiple FAQ pages on your website that ask and answer questions a voice-searching shopper might ask, including not only brand, product and price but also F&I, service, body shop and other fixed ops and more.
Optimize for Local Search: Focus your voice search optimization efforts on geographic market localization, using both site coding and references to your local municipalities and region – including common nicknames – to increase the potential that your site is the top response to shoppers searching for local dealers in their community.\
Implement Schema: One way to support your dealership’s local search efforts is to make sure your web developers are using what’s called “schema” on your site. Schema are behind-the-scenes tags and structures that help search engines understand what your site is about and what it does – everything from automatically identifying it as an auto dealer to search engines to helping define the price range of your vehicles, what geographic areas you serve, what brands you offer, whether you have staff fluent in foreign languages and much more.
Schemas are critical to helping search engines position your site in response to questions like “Where is the closest Buick dealership to me right now?” or “What local auto dealers are open after 6 p.m. on Thursday?”
Evaluate Your Speakable Content: In addition to the previous schemas,, Google is developing tools that allow web developers to identify content on their pages that is most suited for playback in a voice search response or other text-to-speech usage. Make sure your web team is up to date on these and other tools that are designed to improve your website’s performance in a voice search environment, as search engines will often prioritize sites that have been optimized in this manner over those that have not.
Car shoppers asking their phones to answer questions is only one way the automotive sales environment and dealership marketing landscape are evolving. It’s important for dealers to have an auto sales platform and marketing partner that is leading the way into that future, helping position you to take advantage of new digital opportunities and separate the trends of the moment from the best practices of the future.
If you’d like to learn more about what Mastermind is doing to help dealerships like yours thrive in the evolving automotive marketplace, contact us to set up a free demo.