UK Auto Dealerships - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q4 2023

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The Q4 2023 benchmarking report for UK dealerships has just been published. Learn how these leading 12 UK dealerships perform across the digital space.

The latest Q4 2023 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.

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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 Q4 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call. Digital Benchmark Report - Dealerships 2 - Q4 2023 - 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 Oct23

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 our last report, we noted that Parks was seeing the highest level of technical errors, with a total of 311 4xx errors appearing in our crawls. While this was the highest level seen in Q2, Parks was not drastically behind competitors within the space. However, in Q4, Parks has seen this level rise to 1,096 4xx errors, placing the brand significantly behind competitors (with the second highest level sitting at 200).

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.

In Q4, Pentagon Group was the ony automotive dealership to hit the 'okay' benchmark of 50, with a mobile page speed score of 51. Dick Lovett and Lloyd Motor Group, which had both reached this score in Q2, have seen scores fall to 44 and 34 respectively.

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. As in Q4, we saw DAs for auto dealerships range from 57 to 31, with Hendy remaining leading the fleet.

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.

Four dealerships have now seen an increase in traffic year on year. Park's Motor Group and Greenhous have each maintained their increases in digital footfall of over 100%, while Motorline Direct has seen the biggest fall in organic traffic of 37%.

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.

'Image' results are the most widely-appeared for Universal Search result, with Dick Lovett appearing most often for 'images', with 10,800 results. Whereas, in Q2, only Dick Lovett was appearing for any 'reviews' results, Stoneacre has now secured 3,300 appearances for 'reviews'.

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.

Though Greenhous is achieving high levels of traffic growth year on year, the brand is still ranking for very few longtail keywords, appearing for only 37 in the top three positions (a slight increase from Q2's 30). Though Greenhous may be getting valuable traffic through on these keywords (and large volumes of organic traffic from other keyword targeting), the dealership should consider whether there are further opportunities to grow traffic volume to an even higher level with high-conversion potential search terms.

Facebook Adverts

With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecast to hit over 42 million users by 2022, 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 examples of Pentagon Group's Facebook ads from both our previous report, and Q4. Though creative is bright, colourful and engaging, with the use of carousel ad formats grabbing users' attention, there is little brand consistency between visuals. We'd recommend that Pentagon ensures creatives sit within the company's brand guidelines, to ensure a strong level of brand recognition can grow.

Q2 2023:

Pentagon Motor Group Facebook Ads June 2023

Q4 2023:

Pentagon Facebook Ads October 2023

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.

Social media appears to be an under-used platform for automotive dealerships, with only three brands recording notable levels of engagements. Looking at audience sizes, Park's has the largest audience on Meta's platforms, with 31,400 Facebook likes and 49,500 Facebook likes.

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 report we noted that Eastern Western Motor Group was flagging 499 accessibility alerts. This has remained consistent in Q4, with 506. Many of these are due to redundant links and title text, making accessing the site challenging for users using screen readers.


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 Tom Nora on Unsplash

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