Should you buy your own dealership name as a keyword?

By Renold Liu

Bidding and creating ads with your company name as a keyword seems a bit counterproductive. I mean, if people are looking for “{YOUR NAME} Ford”, Google’s algorithms pretty much guarantee {YOUR NAME} is going to be the first in organic results. 

So why waste any money on purchasing your dealership name as a keyword? It turns out there are some excellent reasons to do so.

Protect yourself from competitors 

The first reason is quite obvious – buying your name as a keyword helps protect your Dealership from your competitors. 

In many cases, the OEMs may have agreements with their franchised dealerships preventing them from buying their local competition’s dealership name, but that doesn’t stop a RAM dealership from buying Ford Dealership names to be used in a conquest campaign. 

Let’s add to that a 2013 study that states that 40% of consumers are unaware that Google Adwords are ads, and you can see how easy it is for another dealership to siphon traffic from your brand’s keyword.  

Additionally, if you don’t buy your name, a query of your dealership name could trigger another of your keywords at a higher cost per click. e.g. A query for “West Coast Ford” could trigger the keyword “ford near me.”

If you don’t want to show ads at all when people search for your name, you can always add it as a negative keyword. Unfortunately, this could result in your competitors showing ads above your organic listing, which we know can be disastrous, especially on mobile since there are 1-3 ads before organic listings in that environment.

Buying your Dealership’s name in Adwords can be seen as a very cheap insurance premium for your brand.

Direct them to a promotional landing page rather than the homepage

When you do buy these Dealership branded keywords, make the best use of them. Most often when a car shopper searches for a dealership and clicks on an organic link, they are sent to the home page. While this can sometimes be fine, the purpose of the home page is to give shoppers a bit of everything so they can choose their shopping experience with your Dealership. 

However, sometimes Dealerships have promotions they would like to push that are beyond the OEM incentives and rebates. These could be; a Halloween sale, a New Year Blow-Out or a Boxing Day sales event. In these cases, it would be better to drive this high intent traffic to those landing pages first rather than to your home page. 

Control of your message

An extension of the previous point, sending them to a landing page works well, but being able to define your link extensions is even better. 

Many dealerships run simultaneous promotions: New Specials, Pre-Owned specials, Manager Specials, Service specials, Tire specials etc. Overtly specifying these promotions as your search results extensions will bring traffic to your promotion pages where you are offering the best deals. 

Remember, in organic results, your message is decided by your SEO tactics and how Google interprets which parts of your website are the most important. This means that your limited time promotions (Halloween sale, Back to school sale, Boxing day sale) will typically not show up in your organic extensions.

Your own branded keywords are a cheap way to increase your traffic but don’t go too far

The cost of buying your dealership name as a keyword may be cheap compared to non-branded keywords. In fact, you may be able to buy your Dealership’s name for a small percentage of what you would typically bid for keywords.

Take this example from Vancouver. According to Google’s keyword planner tool, the keyword “West Coast Ford” should provide an average CPC of $0.66 while “Ford Dealer” has an average CPC of $1.74 – a 62% difference. 

Also, if you take a look at the estimated cost, the “West Coast Ford” keyword has an estimated fee of $0.28!!! It’s almost certain that it will be more than $0.28, but it’s still dramatically lower than the other keywords. I’d be hard-pressed to find a dealer where they would not spend this low amount to control their message and ensure they insure their brand against conquest ads. 

But you want to make sure not to overdo it. Because these keywords are such a low cost, many dealerships and agencies will spend too much on this type of ad. There are much better ways to get a large volume of low cost and high return ads. 


So should you buy your own Dealership’s name in AdWords? In a word. Yes. It’s a low-cost insurance policy. It allows you to control your message completely, and it’s cheap as chips.