UK Auto Dealerships - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

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The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK dealerships has just been published. Learn how these leading 12 UK dealerships perform across the digital space.

The latest Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK automotive dealerships has just been published. It covers 12 of the largest national dealerships, including Stoneacre, Dick Lovett, Park’s Motor Group, Rybrook, Motorline Direct, Greenhous, Hendy, Eastern Western Motor Group, Lloyd Motor Group, Pentagon Group, Stellantis, and Hedin Automotive.

 Dealerships 2 - LOGOS

The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other dealerships to increase market share, generate leads and sales, and increase brand exposure. The report highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons across 20+ online performance metrics for the dealerships included.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q1 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call. Dealerships 2 - COVER


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these 12 leading dealerships on, check out our quick-look table below; Dealerships 2 W&L Mar24

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's top and poorest-performing automotive dealerships, or request a copy of the report for the full review.

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What The Industry Research Report Covers

The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each site based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.  

Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels

Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing & Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from 30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing.  Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.

Technical Website Compliance

Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. Dealerships will want to ensure that key pages such as location finders and finance information are especially easy to find, and that users are not sent down dead ends in search of essential information.

In the last audit, Park’s Motor Group flagged 1,096 4xx errors, which it’s very slightly decreased to 1,048 in this quarter. However, this auto dealership must ensure all content is up to date to prevent sending customers to broken links.

Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance

When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load makes a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. When trading in a highly competitive market, such as auto sales, dealerships will want to ensure that users are getting a positive impression of their brand at every touch point.

For Q1 2024, the mobile site speed ranged between 62 and 8, with only 2 auto dealerships scoring above the recommended 50%. However, Stoneacre’s 8% score is alarmingly low, and it should adopt lazy loading to help increase this score by the next quarter.

Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority

Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Dealerships can collaborate with authoritative sites from across the full automotive space in mutually beneficial partnerships that can improve backlink profiles and domain authorities.

A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. The DA range for this quarter ranges between 57 and 19, with 9 of the 12 providers scoring above the recommended 50 DA rating. However, Motorline Direct reported the lowest DA rating, and it also saw backlinks from the fewest domains. A successful backlink strategy (lots of links from a variety of websites) can help to increase a site’s DA rating.

Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop

A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. Automotive dealerships are one of many sectors feeling the sting of the cost-of-living crisis, with consumers opting to stick with older vehicles for longer and only upgrading or changing cars when essential.

Overall, desktop organic traffic was more successful than mobile traffic traffic. Nine of the 12 brands encountered a decrease in traffic on mobile, while only 4 brands saw a loss on desktop. This information implies that each auto dealership should optimise their mobile site to ensure customers can access them on the go.

Universal Search Opportunity

Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a site can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. 'Local pack' and 'reviews' could prove particularly useful for auto dealerships, who can ensure they have local visibility and are able to build trust directly from the SERP.

Dick Lovett continues to rank for the most Universal Search results, with 19,100 in the ‘image’ category. Only 2 of the auto dealerships reported appearances for ‘reviews’, which they should look to increase to rank them in the SERP results.

The Longtail Keyword Opportunity

Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for band new search terms as they enter Google’s index. For automotive dealerships, they could be including longtail keywords relating to financing options, availability, and models & colours, to capture traffic from both the consideration and convert stages of the funnel.

Stoneacre has the most appearances for longtail keywords in positions 3 (1,400) . However, it’s ranking lower than Dick Lovett for positions 4–10, suggesting that it might be knocked off the top spot by the next quarter.

Facebook Adverts

With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) hitting over 44 million users in 2023, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019.

We’ve included two examples of Hendy’s sponsored Facebook posts. It used the same text on both posts and different media (an image on one and a video on the other). This difference implies that the company is testing engagement rates based on its media choice.

Dealerships 2 - Facebook

Top Social Shares & Content

When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your brand engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. There is a wealth of content that automotive dealerships can look towards creating, tying into all manner of topics from across the wider automotive industry. Potential ideas could include how to choose a car based on insurance class, what to look for in a first car, and how to get the most from a test drive.

Facebook is the most popular social media channel for 9 of the 12 brands, with the additional 3 favouring X/Twitter. Park’s Motor Group continues to have the largest Facebook group (31,500 Likes — an increase of 100 from the previous quarter) and 48,900 Instagram Likes (a slight decrease of 600 from our last audit).

Website Readability & Accessibility

20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, brands lose customer interest as they turn elsewhere. Even brands in automotive sectors, should be prioritising accessibility, as there are a number of visual impairments that don't inhibit driving ability, but can make navigating poorly-designed websites a challenge!

In our last audit, Eastern Western Motor Group flagged 506 accessibility alerts. It’s slightly reduced this to 499 in Q1 2024, though it should aim to score zero. Upon closer inspection, these alerts are due to redundant title text and redundant links. Accessibility alerts affect usability for those using a screen reader, which is why it’s so important that brands aim to eliminate these immediately.


To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

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