Google’s 2021 Dealer Guidebook and 4 Key Takeaways

Google’s 2021 Dealer Guidebook and 4 Key Takeaways

Kathryn Lemoine
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Date Published:
Wednesday, February 10, 2021

It’s a new year and a new-er Automotive Dealer Guidebook (2.5) from Google.

Google released its Automotive Guidebook 2.5 over the weekend.  Here’s what you need to know: Shoppers Expect More, Bring Your Inventory to the Forefront, Match Your Measurement to Selling Cars and Move Into the World of Automation, and Prioritize Video. Read below for further explanations and action items you can take today.

Shoppers Expect More

Shopper expectations have increased over the past years in the Amazon/”get it now” era and the pandemic further accelerated this trend.  Shoppers expect more online purchase options and access to more information on their own terms.  According to a Google Survey 65% of recent new vehicle purchasers expect more online purchase options after COVID-19*.
Action Items:
  • Ensure that shoppers know and understand that you offer online shopping
  • ~Include in your emails and email signatures
  • ~Promote on social media
  • ~Feature prominently on your website homepage, model pages, SRPs, and VDPs
  • ~Include in your video ads
  • ~Explain the ease of the process (ability to shop portions or 100% online and the amount of time saved)
  • ~Ask your customers and friends if they understand your online shopping process (remember just because you know all of the benefits of your “Fast Lane” doesn’t mean that your shoppers understand)
  • Win the Shopper Online: Make your website easy to use and navigate.  Auto buyers are driving the change towards a frictionless experience and the dealers that adapt first will win.
  • ~Mobile speed time - most of your shoppers will come to your website on their mobile device.  Ensure that your website loads all relevant information quickly. Page speed affects the buyer’s willingness to buy - specifically 22% of shoppers will close the tab and 15% will visit a competitor’s site if your page is too slow to load.  Time is money! *
  • ~Simple lead forms - make it easy for a customer to give you their information:
  • ~~Limit lead buttons on the SRP and VDP to 3; make it easy for the shopper to know what to click and give them a reason to click.  Too many buttons can complicate the decision and actually lead to fewer leads.
  • ~~Ask for the necessary information and no more.
  • ~~Ensure that the verbiage on your lead form matches the call to action on your lead button (if a user clicks a “Get e-Price” button they expect to see a lead form that offers them an e-Price after they fill out their information) 
  • ~Accessible information: 74% of shoppers do not contact the dealership before showing up.  Ensure that they can easily find information that will sway them to show up at YOUR dealership. (pricing, photos, vehicle amenities, purchase process, etc.)

Bring Inventory to the Forefront

Your VDP is the MVP.  Get the shopper one step closer to your VDP (vehicle details page) by featuring your inventory in every channel.
Action Items:
  • Promote your inventory through Inventory based ads:
  • ~SEIM: stop wasting money on broad used car keywords and focus on your specific inventory.  Bid on model year and model keywords to show your inventory to the specific shopper looking for that vehicle.  Get the shopper directly to your VDP on your website, bypassing third party sites with other dealer’s inventory.
  • ~Dynamic retargeting ads on display and Facebook: bring shoppers back to your website to the specific vehicle they are interested in.  Ensure that your dealership and the vehicle stays in front of the shopper as they are browsing sites online and are on Facebook and Instagram researching competitor dealerships.
  • ~Dynamic video ads: utilize the power of video (site, sound, and motion) to showcase your inventory and get more qualified shoppers to your website.
  • Google My Business: focus on inventory continues to grow as Google recently announced its newest GMB feature - inventory.  Include your inventory on your Google My Business profile to give your inventory more visibility to shoppers. (Note: only approved agencies can list your inventory on GMB - contact The Moran Group to get your inventory live on GMB.)

Match Your Measurement to Selling Cars and Move Into the World of Automation

Action Items:
  • Ensure you are tracking metrics that relate to car sales - go above and beyond CTR (click through rate) and CPC (cost per click). Track key actions that lead to a sale: website form submissions, phone calls, texts and live chats, specials views, service appointments, finance applications, VDP views, dealership visits, and more.
  • Set yourself up for success by using automation and machine learning to further drive more sales and service appointments.  Automation works best when you give it the best information.  Ensure that your Google account has all key actions set up and is optimizing to the actions most likely to drive sales.

Prioritize Video

Bring Your Dealership to your customers through online video. According to Google 80% of new auto purchasers took action after watching a video.
Action Items:
  • Create content that will move the shopper down the funnel: vehicle walkarounds, comparisons, vehicle features, dealership amenities.
  • Feature your videos to relevant audiences on your website, social media, YouTube, and Connected TVs.


  1. Google/Kantar Gearshift Automotive Path to Purchase 2020. U.S. New vehicle purchasers n=1,000. Pre-COVID-19 purchases (December 2019-February 2020) n=835, COVID-19 purchases (March-June 2020) n=165.
  2. Google/Kantar Automotive Path to Purchase 2019, U.S. n=2,000
  3. Google/LRWGreenberg 'Understanding the Automotive Path to Purchase' Study, U.S., 2020 Automotive Shoppers and Purchasers
  4. and Akamai 2018 State of Online Performance
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