organic search

If you were looking for an auto dealership in your city, that sold the kinds of vehicles you sell, what would you do?

Chances are, you would start online and use Google to begin your search. Like most people, you’d probably use your smartphone to begin the search. Depending on what you were looking for, you’d likely type something along the lines of “Should I buy an SUV from company A or company B” into the search bar. And, once the results were returned, you’d almost certainly do what most people do and ignore the first few Google Ad results on the page, instead scrolling down to the organic search results.

There is a nearly universal perception that organic search results are more authentic. People intuitively understand that Google ads are, well, ads. By contrast, because Google is so accurate at guessing what people want from their searches, people trust that the organic results on the first pages will likely answer their questions. So, if you want to attract more customers to your dealership, it makes a lot of sense to aim for organic search over PPC. Let’s look in more detail why.

Dealerships are too dependent upon PPC

We speak to a lot of auto dealerships who tell us about their frustrations with Google AdWords. Many tell us about their disillusionment with the method—it often starts out great and leads to lots of click throughs, yet appearing at the top of the rankings becomes increasingly expensive over time. And the return on the investment is often very low.

Why is this? Fundamentally, PPC may not be the right method for dealerships. As this article explains, PPC is especially effective for three types of marketing:

  • Direct response advertising (where the customer is asked to call a phone number)
  • Online retailers (normally selling cheaper goods that people will buy immediately)
  • Brand advertisers (big name brands that know that they need to appear in people’s searches if they are to retain ‘mind share’).

By contrast, when people are buying an expensive product like a vehicle, they’re much less likely to call up the first advertiser they see. Instead, they’ll spend time searching online to learn more about cars in their budget and to look for dealerships in their area. This means PPC is likely to return less value than providing informative content which they can use to inform their decision—as Google’s own research shows, car buyers spend up to 15 hours researching online before they even contact an auto-dealership. And most of this research is done with organic search. 

Done well, organic search pays dividends for auto-dealerships

According to one study, a full 87% of search engine budget is spent on PPC, while only 11% is spent on efforts to improve organic listings. However, people are 8.5 times more likely to click on organic results than PPC. While PPC should clearly be part of any auto dealership’s search engine strategy, all the evidence suggests that you should ultimately be focusing more attention on organic results than paid searches.

Get to the first page of organic search

Of course, if you’ve ever looked into the world of SEO, you’ll understand how complicated it is getting your auto-dealership onto page #1 of Google. While PPC can give you an immediate result, ranking high on organic searches requires a long-term strategy, which may not give you that immediate payoff. When you have vehicles that need selling fast, a slow and steady SEO strategy can feel frustrating.

Nevertheless, by working out exactly what your target audience are searching for, and what kinds of keywords you should be targeting, the returns on an organic search SEO campaign can be enormous. By providing blogs, infographics, reviews and other informative content that can help your potential customers learn more about their dream car, you will foremost in their thinking when they decide to finally book themselves in for a test drive.

So, think again about what you would do when looking for a dealership in your area, and plan your marketing strategy in a way that will get your content in front of your target audience.