1/4 of Your Website Traffic Could Be Intercepted by Your Competition

October 15, 2013

In my last post I discussed how to identify and measure your “true” SEO traffic. There’s an important implication of SEO traffic that I’d like to cover in this post, traffic that appears to be organic but is closer to direct.

The best site traffic a dealership gets is direct traffic, which occurs when a shopper enters your website address to go directly to your site. All other sources of traffic give your competitors an opportunity to intercept your customers.

Similar to this is traffic in which a customer knows your store’s name but not your website address. In this case, the customer types your dealership’s name into a search engine. Like direct traffic, this is traffic you’ve earned through traditional advertising or branding efforts. But while customers intended to visit your site directly, this traffic is being funneled through Google’s organic search.

This is dangerous because organic traffic through Google is always at the risk of being intercepted, either by other organic results on the search results page or by competitors who target your name using Search Engine Marketing.

It’s important to recognize traffic that intended to come direct to your website and to protect it from being intercepted. According to a recent national sample of dealership website traffic:

  • 57 percent of dealerships’ organic (non-paid) traffic from search engines actually typed in the dealership name, typically looking for the dealership website. Think about that – more than half of dealers organic search engine traffic intended to go directly to the dealer website yet ended up at high risk of being intercepted by the competition. This traffic actually accounted for 24 percent of total website traffic. Yes, nearly one in four customers came to these dealers websites through a route giving the competition a chance to steal them.

It’s critical that you figure out a way to convert these searches into direct traffic. So what’s the solution?

  • Review your advertising with your ad agencies. Odds are that your website address is not memorable enough in your advertising materials. In a majority of cases, the address is not featured prominently enough, sometimes not at all. Your website address should be a major focus of your ads.
  • Too many ad agencies believe their No. 1 job is to drive traffic to your store. Too many ads are focused on the pre-Internet goal of getting people to go straight to your dealership. The problem is that a majority of customers visit your digital dealership in order to decide if they want to visit your physical dealership, so instead of fighting that reality, you should be focusing your agencies on driving traffic to your website. If you can give customers a compelling reason to visit your website first to see your inventory, you have a better chance of breaking through the clutter.

The Internet is a pay-for-performance world, and you need to manage your traditional ad partners this way. Work with your vendors to improve the memorability of your website address in your ads. After implementing a plan, check to see if the organic traffic using your name moves from the risky search engine path to direct to your website. That way, you’ll be able to hold your vendor accountable and — most importantly — drive more traffic to your website for the money you’re already spending.