In this week’s video, I share the details about the new Think With Google report that was released last week about the effects of COVID on the automotive industry. Even if you’re not a car dealer, the shift in browsing and buying habits applies to pretty much everyone. Check out the video to see how the coronavirus has fundamentally changed the way that people shop online.


Welcome back to another episode of Local Search Tuesdays. I was supposed to be talking about content tips today, but something exciting came up that I wanted to talk about. So this week we’re taking a little break from SEO tips to talk about a recent study released by Google.

Last week, a new study was released on the Think with Google website called “5 trends shaping the auto industry’s approach to a new normal” – it’s a really interesting study about the state of the auto industry and how customer behavior has changed because of the coronavirus.

If you’re not a car dealer, you should still watch this week’s video – every business has been affected by the COVID quarantine, so the general message still applies.

A lot of the things mentioned in the study have already been available – digital retailing, or buying a car completely online, has been available for a few years now, but wasn’t a very polished experience. Other elements like remote pickup and delivery are newer concepts that really took hold due to the COVID lockdown.

If you want to read the whole post, head to – but I’ll give you a quick recap here…

Trend number one – People are finding comfort in car ownership.

It’s not really that surprising that with public transportation, flying, and even ride shares becoming potential points of virus submission, most Americans now prefer their own personal transportation.

In fact , 93% of people say they’re now using their own vehicles more often.

Trend number two – People expect to find car deals.

With a soaring unemployment rate and many people financially strapped, Google is seeing searches for “is it a good time to buy a car” a whopping nine times more often in March and April than in January and February.

Rend number three – People want the dealer experience closer to home

With everyone locked down in their homes, people want the dealership experience to change. Searches for “dealership near me” dropped more than 20% over the last few months. People still want to buy cars, but they’re looking for a different experience.

Shoppers ranked the following activities as good alternatives to visiting a dealership in person:
Number 6 – videoconferencing
Number 5 – VR test drives
Number 4 – online configurator
Number 3 – Digital Showroom
Number 2 – review videos
And number 1 – at home test drives

Most of those already existed in the wild in some form or another, but it looks like they’re going to become the norm.

Trend 4 – People want online car buying and at-home delivery

Digital retailing has been around for a few years now, but it hadn’t really been perfected – and in many cases, there wasn’t much demand. COVID changed all that, and now customers are going to expect that experience moving forward. In fact, the study showed that 18% of auto shoppers would buy a vehicle sooner if there was an online purchase option.

And Trend 5 – People are tuning in to digital events

Most conferences and auto shows have been postponed, and many manufacturers have delayed vehicle launches. Hyundai took a different approach, and in early March, unveiled the 2021 Elantra with a live stream and other video elements. The initial teaser video, live stream, and walk around clip have had nearly 800,000 combined views.

So what does all this mean for auto dealers? The COVID situation is fundamentally changing the way that people are shopping for cars. The temporary updates to the standard buying process are no longer temporary – they’re here to stay.

With 92% of sales starting with an online search and demand growing for a completely digital experience, your visibility in online searches is more important than ever before. You need to be sure you’re rocking your SEO and that you’re as visible as possible in as many local searches as possible.

And even if you’re not an auto dealer, this is huge news – it shows that browsing and buying habits have changed, and aren’t likely to go back to what we considered “normal” before the outbreak.

More than ever before, it’s important to have an awesome website with killer content that really shows people who you are – and it’s absolutely vital to use a rock-solid Local SEO strategy to get your site as much visibility as possible in local searches.

That’s all the time we’ve got for today, so you know what that means. Put your hand on the screen right here:
We totally just high-fived cause you learned something awesome. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week for another episode of Local Search Tuesdays.