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automotive PPC

Automotive PPC: How to Do Paid Search for Automotive Websites

Did you know that 45% of small businesses now use pay-per-click advertising (PPC) as part of their marketing strategy?

While running PPC campaigns used to be considered optional, it’s quickly becoming more of a necessity, regardless of industry. 

That means that, yes, even auto dealers like yourself should be embracing paid advertising. 

But, what kinds of automotive PPC strategies should you explore? We’re here to help. Keep reading for an easy-to-understand guide to paid search for auto dealers. 

What Is PPC?

Before we dive into some of the automotive PPC strategies you can use to get more leads and, ultimately, more sales, you have to understand what PPC is and why it’s important. 

Think for a moment about what happens when you do a Google search. Let’s say you’re looking for information about the safest SUVs. If you search for “safe SUVs”, you’ll get a list of websites linking to information relevant to your search. 

At the top of the listings, you’ll see a few results that say “Ad” next to them. That means that a company has paid to show up in results for certain search terms, or keywords. 

That, in a nutshell, it what it means to run a PPC campaign. 

So, why is it important? Well, it’s just another way to get your website (and your business) in front of more eyes. Much like paying for radio ads or commercials, PPC is a digital form of advertising to reach more customers. 

And, because paid ads show up at the top of the search engine results page, you’re more likely to capture a user’s attention than you would if you only rely on organic search strategies, like search engine optimization (SEO). 

If you’re worried that using a PPC strategy isn’t necessary for the automotive industry, think again. In 2020, the industry is expected to spend nearly $16 billion just on digital ads. 

There’s no better time for you to join in than right now. 

Guide to Automotive PPC

Now that you know more about why PPC is important for you to use, it’s time to get started! Here are the things you need to do in order to run a successful automotive PPC campaign. 


First, do as much research as you can. The more information you have up front, the better you’ll be able to execute an effective PPC strategy. 

Start by doing a few Google searches relevant to your dealership. You can search for your business name, “car dealerships near me” or any other searches where you’d expect to see your website come up. 

This is a good way to check-in and see how your organic marketing efforts are working. But, as you do these searches, pay attention to the ad results that show up at the top of the page.

Do you see your competitors? That means there are users seeing your competition’s website over yours. By setting up Google Ads or other PPC campaigns, you can start capturing more users. 

During your research period, you’ll also want to research automotive keywords and the average amount you should expect to spend on your ad campaigns. 

Think About Your Target Audience

What types of customers are you hoping to attract to your dealership? The types of used cars you sell could determine who you’re trying to target, which will influence your PPC strategy. 

In doing this, you can also determine who you’re not trying to attract. As a used car dealer, you don’t want to spend time and money advertising to someone who’s shopping for a new car. 

Make note of both sets of audiences. You’ll use those lists as you choose your keywords. 

Select Keywords

One of the most important parts of setting up a PPC campaign is choosing your keywords. When you choose to bid on keywords, that’s how Google decides when to show your ads. 

This ensures that users only see ads that are relevant to what they are looking to find. 

If you’re lost on how to choose the right keywords, have no fear. Google has a free keyword planner tool that helps you research relevant keywords and determine which ones you want to target. 

When selecting your keywords, you want to balance the fine line of choosing keywords that have enough interest, showing that people are searching for them and ones that aren’t too competitive where you’ll get lost in the shuffle. 

This is also the time to set up negative keywords, which are keywords you don’t want to target. Look back to the list of people you don’t want to target and choose negative keywords accordingly. For example, “new cars near me” might be one of your negative keywords. 

Think About Customer Action

What is the number one thing you want someone who clicks on your ads to do? Ultimately, of course, you want them to buy a car, but what about before that?

Do you want them to visit your website, call, or come to the dealership? Determining this will help you when working on the next step: writing ads. 

If you don’t include a strong call-to-action (CTA) as part of your ads, you can’t expect customers to convert.

Write Ads

The last step in setting up a PPC campaign is writing your ads. If you use Google Ads for your PPC campaign, the interface details exactly how many characters you can use for each line of your ad, so it’s impossible to mess up. 

Try to focus on how you provide value and meet your target audience’s needs in your limited ad space. 

And, of course, include a strong CTA, leading them to take the specific action you determined above. 

And that’s it! Once your ads are out into the digital universe, you can start expecting more eyes on your website. 

PPC Is Worth the Effort

We hope after reading this guide, you have a better understanding of how to set up an automotive PPC campaign and why it’s important. 

However, if all of this sounds like too much to add to your already full plate, that’s ok too. The Digital Impact team is here to help! Read more about our strategy for helping dealerships like yours find more success.