The Google search wars aren't contested on a static battlefield.
The tech giant tweaks its search engine algorithm frequently to improve the user experience. Some changes are minor, but others can send waves through various sectors, including auto retailing.
One of the biggest waves in recent memory arrived March 12 and immediately got the attention of third-party shopping sites such as Autotrader, Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. The sites say Google's algorithm adjustment immediately affected the rankings of free listings that appear below paid search ads.
And the sites soon discovered that they benefited from the changes. Their search traffic rose.
What exactly did Google's "March 2019 Core Update" do? The sites don't know, but they're happy to reap the benefits.
The episode highlights how digital marketers have to keep pace in a world where the playing field can change at any time, sometimes without warning or explanation. Google normally doesn't announce algorithm updates, but it did so after the March 12 changes.