Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misstated the nature of Dominion DMS’ Google results.
Shortly after the Nov. 3 election, Dominion DMS' search traffic surged.
Between Nov. 5 and 22, Dominion DMS' organic Google search results received 319,000 impressions, or roughly triple the usual amount, said Robert J. Gorincen, the company's marketing director. At the same time, the click-through rate on its paid Google search ads shrank, and visitors to Dominion DMS' website left the home page faster than normal.
The team started digging for a possible explanation. Gorincen said they discovered some of the increased traffic stemmed from a Google search of the phrase "Dominion software," which also happened to be a paid Google advertising search term for Dominion DMS.
Gorincen told me he couldn't determine what people searching for Dominion software were trying to find when Google served up Dominion DMS' ad. But he said the search data suggests many likely weren't looking for dealership software.
"You typically see the more irrelevant an ad is, the lower the click-through rate," Gorincen said.
And the uptick in traffic happened during the same period that another company called Dominion was in the news.
Dominion DMS shares a name with Dominion Voting Systems, the election software provider at the center of unfounded voting fraud claims by President Donald Trump and his supporters after he lost the presidential race to President-elect Joe Biden, who is to be inaugurated Wednesday. Dominion Voting Systems has rejected the claims and filed a defamation lawsuit against a former Trump campaign lawyer.
Dominion DMS is a unit of Dominion Dealer Solutions, which is part of Norfolk, Va.-based Dominion Enterprises. Dominion Enterprises is not affiliated with Dominion Voting Systems.
A Google search of the term "Dominion software" last week turned up 28.4 million results. Top links included Dominion Voting Systems' website and several news articles fact-checking the claims involving the company. But Dominion DMS was nowhere to be found in the top search results.
The DMS business has deactivated that search term, Gorincen said. His team is considering replacing the generic term "software" with "dealer software" or a term more relevant to its products, such as "DMS."