Carvana's SEO Ecommerce Strategy Driving Sales and organic search are the most important channels to acquire new customers for ecommerce auto retailer Carvana, which uses zero showrooms, instead relying on delivery services, tokens, and vending machines filled with in-demand used cars.    

“We were tackling very technical problems we needed to resolve before the program could have success and reach the KPIs,” said Kenyon Manu, SEO product track lead at Carvana. 

In fall 2018, Carvana struggled with server-side JavaScript rendering. For some reason, search engines did not render the code that allowed the company’s website and individual pages to rank high in search engine queries. Google had not crawled large chunks of the site that its SEO team assumed had been indexed all along.

Carvana discovered the challenges by working with Botify, an SEO platform that helps identify problems on the site keeping pages hidden from the search crawler. JavaScript empowers visually striking user experiences, but it can hide content and links, and drag down an otherwise speedy website to a crawl. 

Manu, who spent time at Amazon and Overstock as SEO product manager, said the team had to achieve three major technical milestones, which included successful server-side rendering for the site and creating a completely new URL structure. The team said this required building a product shopping taxonomy that tied to the URLs, so search engines and page visitors could understand where they were within the site by reading the directory in the URL and the token.



“You need to crawl a bunch of pages and get a read on how the bots interpret the changes made during a time period,” Manu said. 

Working with Botify allowed Manu to back his decision with data and metrics and demonstrate the progress. The SEO and engineering teams worked together to implement a series of code fixes that resolved failures in rendering and made some high-profile car models and features increasingly discoverable in searches.

“We had to come up with a way to handle URLs at a fairly large enterprise level to grow from a start by transferring the old links and capturing the link equity to issue hundreds of thousands, if not millions, or redirects,” Manu said.  

Discovering and addressing the issues around JavaScript that led to real SEO concerns benefited the online used-car retailer, which saw more than a 300% increase in keyword ranking and a 750% increase in its URLs being ranked. All this helped to drive an increase in organic traffic to the site. 

Carvana's SEO team has grown from about three to a dozen employees in the past six months.

In addition to SEO, the company also uses paid search, television, and social media to drive sales. 

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