Search shenanigans (Part II of II)
- May 29, 2019
- Auto Extended Warranty, Extended Auto Warranty
- Posted by Michael Robinson
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As discussed in Part I, post the March 2019 Google update, Cars.com search results skyrocketed while their rival, CarGurus.com, lost hundreds of thousands of what are known as “number one” placements within Google. In fact, approximately 30% of CarGurus.com keywords plummeted in Google which for a business as large as CarGurus (and as dependent on the web for search driven results) is a massive deal. While CarGurus did not officially comment on the news, Cars.com’s Greene feels strongly that while Cars.com performance in terms of SEO strategy was sound, a big portion of their increase was also due to the downfall of CarGurus post update.
So, what happened? The mystery only gets more mysterious. In December of 2017 tech-heads noted on blogs and other forums a steep increase in link building activities by CarGurus. Shortly thereafter the site’s Google rankings began to spike. Throughout 2018 growth continued and it wasn’t until the 2019 March update that the site’s rankings dropped off. Cars.com has a theory – they believe CarGurus was employing cloaking techniques which is against Google guidelines. These techniques are aimed at injecting more keywords than are allowed and manipulating search results. We don’t want to fall too far into the weeds but let’s just leave it at this – a big, fat no-no in the SEO world.
The CarsGuru.com CEO later went on record, stating he has had ups and downs with Google, and this was simply a downturn. Yet, many point to the assumed, nefarious tactics that while not admissible in a court of law are shady to say the least. This is a muddy world still, and Google at this point is the principal player but also the principal arbitrator. They set the rules in many ways and then supervise the playing field. You can imagine where the conflicts of interest lie but for the most part the rules that have been set around SEO appear to be valid and commonly understood.
Who really knows if it was just an exceptional Cars.com SEO strategy or a bad move by CarsGuru.com. Either way, Google comes out strong and in control. Go figure …