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How Have the Changes to Google's Search Engine Results Page Affected Automotive Manufacturers?


Insights for Automotive Manufacturers: How do people search for a vehicle online and how can manufacturers reach them effectively?


Google Search results - Ford fiesta 2014

Heat map of results to the task "find information about the 2014 Ford Fiesta"


We conducted an eye-tracking study and asked participants: “Imagine you're thinking of buying a new car and are interested in the 2014 Ford Fiesta. Use Google to find more information about the 2014 Ford Fiesta."




50% of clicks were to the manufacturer's site (Ford).

  • 43% of which were to a sponsored ad (67% of people looked at the ad).
  • 57% of which were to the first organic listing (78% of people looked at the listing).

Searchers are now smarter and scan the information more quickly on the results page. As a manufacturer, try to take up as much space as possible on the first page real estate (within the sponsored ads, the first organic listings and below) and use the right keywords in titles and descriptions. Below are key tactics to consider to increase your real estate on Google's SERP:



  • Blogs/articles correctly marked up with schema can capture up to 45% of page clicks.

Google Search results - authored article


Write keyword-rich articles and blogs on areas of automotive interest that will help people with their purchase decision. 


  • 18% of clicks took place below the 4th listing.


Google search result automotive - Organic


People are scanning less horizontally and more vertically and will scan further down the page to find the information they are looking for if they don't find it within the first listings. ​Front-load content in page titles based on the intent of the searcher.

  • 36% of clicks were to a review site with stars ratings shown, or to a review article marked up with schema.

Google search result automotive - review site


Review and ratings are critical to car shoppers. Be present on third party review sites. Those sites often feature star ratings, which is an excellent way of capturing searcher attention on the SERP.



  • 25% of page clicks were to a manufacturer's sponsored ad.

Google search result automotive - sponsored ads


When researching information about a vehicle, searchers do not pay as much attention to specific dealership paid ads, but instead focus, and click, on manufacturers’ sponsored ads. The two dealerships listed in the sponsored listings only captured a total of 2% of clicks.  



  • Across our entire study, 14.5% of page clicks were to a video.

Google search result automotive - video


When videos are featured on a SERP, with corresponding thumbnail images, a big part of the attention and clicks are to informational/how-to videos/tutorials. Searchers find value in video and you should consider using this tool. 



Once searchers have a good idea of what vehicle they want, they need to find a dealership that has that vehicle. Search behaviour changes as purchase intent increases. Read more about the implication for automotive dealerships.