Branded Search and Keywords

Google is smart, arguably smarter than you or I. You certainly aren’t going to crack the code in any case. If you could, you wouldn’t be selling cars any more.

Suffice to say, when you do a search on Google, its goal is to give you the most relevant information possible. There is a heavy weighting for local results, but it really comes down to relevance.

Google Adwords

 Pay per click advertising (PPC) can be a good strategy for many businesses, however, there are some pitfalls, especially for vehicle dealerships, that you need to be aware of before you pour your entire marketing budget into a black hole.

When it comes to selling vehicles, there are standard keywords and there are branded keywords. For instance, car, truck, SUV are standard words that have significant competition as manufacturers and dealerships across all brands compete for them. Then you have branded words such as specific car models or your dealership name. The former would have competition from all brand dealerships, while the latter would only have competition from local dealers looking to steal directly from you.

When building your keyword strategy, you have to balance your budget depending on how much national and local competition exists for your keywords.

Simple enough?

Here are the pitfalls however.


There is significant competition for generic keywords from dealerships and manufacturers alike and branded words like models show the same trend; Corolla, Cruze, it doesn’t matter. When you set your budget, you could easily spend a lot of money when people click on your ad. Unfortunately, a click on an ad doesn’t mean a sale, so you could be competing with your own manufacturer and who do you think has more money? Furthermore, those people searching for those particular keywords may not necessarily be car buyers. You have to be careful you aren’t competing for keywords that don’t translate into sales at all.

Branded keywords

Sometimes your keywords may convert well, but there aren’t many people searching for them. Your dealership name is a good example of this. Unless people are specifically looking for your dealership name, then spending money for pay-per-click won’t generate any clicks. On the other hand, if competition is tight because you have dealerships within walking distance, they may take the strategy of using your name as a keyword. At that point, you need to spend money to protect your own real estate.

Strategy is KEY.

Crafting your keyword strategy takes time and a lot of research. You don’t just sit down and vomit out the words you think your audience is searching for. You need to use the keyword planner to carve out the most relevant and cost effective keywords. Beware of vendors trying to sell you strategies of combining your name with generic words that have high competition and little relevance or correlation. You could easily spend 50 or 60% of your budget on an audience that has no intention of buying from you.

As always, no piece of your marketing should be done in a vacuum. Digital marketing has inherent feedback that will tell you what works and what doesn’t. Invest in the elements that convert your audience to clients most effectively instead of wasting money on what doesn’t. This may include PPC, however don’t get sold on hopes and dreams.

Ask for the proof and invest wisely.

Jason Harris


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