Dane Odden
| 07/15/2016

Boost Your Search and Advertising at Every Stage

Web searches typically fall into three categories, based on the intent of the searcher: informational, navigation/research and transactional. No matter the stage of the buyer journey, your dealership should be front and center for your customers through search and advertising. But how?


The first stage of a searcher’s intent is informational. The consumer completing the search is simply wanting to learn about the process or product. For example, they might be researching questions like “What are the benefits of driving a hybrid?” or “Is a hybrid vehicle right for me?” According to BrightEdge, “Search queries with discovery (informational) intent have a 69 percent higher click-through rate (CTR) for the top five search results, as compared to purchase (transactional) intent searches.” Although, it doesn’t seem like a direct hook like a transactional search might be, creating informational search ads can prove to be the most effective in driving potential customers to your website. Take Action: One way to get informational content in front of consumers is to layer in blog posts that aren’t sales-focused like “How to Figure out if a Hybrid is a Good ROI for You” or “Top Questions to ask When Buying a Used Hybrid.” Not only will this approach maximize your results in the short-term “sprint” related to your ad campaign, but you’re building a foundation for longer-term SEO success even after your current ad campaign ends. Including non-sales related pages with informative and helpful content is a good way to attract links and encourage website visitors to share that page with their friends.


As they continue through their consumer journey, consumers move from informational searches to searches related to navigation and research. At this point, they’re looking to official sites such as dealership, OEM or review sites to tell them more about a specific product’s features. They might search questions like “What is the MPG of Model A? … of Model B?” Take Action: Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for both in your ads and on your website. Include as much specific information in your paid search ad copy as possible, including model names, offers, events and dealership taglines. Take advantage of site links that guide customers to areas of the website providing relevant information such as inventory availability, offers and sales event information, dealership hours and directions and specific model landing pages.


At this point in the buyer’s journey, they’re ready to buy. Their searches shift from nonspecific to specific, targeted and location based. They start asking questions like “Is there a Model A in stock near me?” Google recently changed their layout to include four ads at the top of the search page, all of which are “highly commercial” queries that tend to be very transactional in nature. In fact, “Search queries with purchase (transactional) intent are six times more likely than all other searches to display four ads.”1 Creating ads that are transactional in nature gives you a higher likelihood of them being served to interested customers. Take Action: Create paid search terms related to the vehicles on your lot along with location-based search terms like “Toyota dealer near me” or “Toyota Prius Dealers in Boston.” Target the area closest to your dealership; spend your advertising dollars on your market instead of spreading your budget across too wide an area. Your dealership’s search and advertising strategy needs to address more than “Where can I buy?”. It needs to accommodate potential customers at every stage in their journey, from reaching out for information all the way to purchase. If your dealership meets them at every point in their journey, you’re sure to be top of mind when they decide to buy.

Dane Odden
Dane Odden

Dane Odden is a digital advertising expert at CDK. He’s worked with dealers and dealer groups for years to build and execute winning digital strategies. In his free time, Dane enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and son. Throughout the year you can find them on area hiking trails, ski slopes, golf courses, and baseball fields.