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Periodically we publish thoughts and ideas about he state of the web and the state of structured data publishing. Topics range from small business marketing to cost efficient advertising.

Pre-Cookie Advertising for Car Dealerships

Pre-Cookie Advertising for a Car Dealership

Pre-cookie advertising is all about leading a customer to your website – tempting them in the search results with amazing offers, deals, and sensible savings.

Once you welcome a customer into your site, you can attach a cookie to their browser and your advertising options increase ten-fold: display ads follow them around the internet, they’ll see ads for your product as they scroll through Facebook. While they’re totally not thinking about the car, you’ll be there reminding them about the Honda Fit they searched for.

It’s amazingly well orchestrated and can pay dividends for your bottom line. But before you can attach a cookie to a customer and show them with enticing ads you need to get them to your website first.

And that can be the tricky part. There’s no sure-fire way to do that. You can bring a customer to search results, but you can’t make them click a link, as the saying goes.

No, you can only optimize your chances. Increase your luck surface area. If you do everything right, more often than not you’ll get the traffic you need to sell cars and generate leads.

Many searches begin (and often end!) with a search on Google. Today we’ll talk about two ways to increase the opportunity of capturing that customer in their Google search.

Organic Search for a Car Dealership

There are around 30,000 searches in Google a month for people typing “car dealership near me.”

That’s across the country – but when a customer types that in they know they’re ready to get on the fast track to purchasing a car, trading in their current car, or looking for help from an expert – that expert is you.

And when they type “car dealership near me” into Google they see a few ads (which we’ll get to later), but they’ll also see a map of car dealerships near their location.

Car Dealership Map

You’ll want to be on this map because it is a hotbed of activity. It delivers critical information to the customer. They can see the dots on the map representing a dealer, how to find directions towards the dealer of their choice. If you’re not on that map you’re not even going to be part of the decision making process. You’ve lost the battle for a customer before it has truly begun. Though, in this day and age you can argue the battle is a constant tug-of-war.

So, how do you prepare yourself to show up in Google Search results?

  • Set up your Google My Business account – this is a service Google offers that walks you through all the steps to “get on Google.” It’s a weird phrase when you say it aloud, but it kind of makes sense. Sure, by just existing you’re on Google, but you aren’t really on Google until you have a my business account.
  • Relevant information and text on your website – The world of SEO has calmed down and for the most part you can’t build a website these days that isn’t even just a tiny bit SEO friendly. Like I said before, by simply existing online can be enough to get some SEO momentum rolling. By building out pages that make sense for your business—repair center, car landing pages, about us sections and dealership information—you’ll find that you’ll show up on Google when it most makes sense. After all, Google wants to serve the right content to the user, you just have to help Google get all the content in the right place.

Paid Search for a Car Dealership

Used Car Advertisement

While organic search is akin to bringing a horse to water and enticing them to drink, paid search is like filling a bowl with water and holding it up to their snout. They’ll have to at least consider (and actively avoid your water) before moving onto something else that catches their eye.

Which is actually to your advantage. Paid search forces you to be honest and relate to your customer on a personal level. Since you have just a few seconds to convince them to click on your ad, it pays to be poignant and precise.

Imagine only being able to buy an ad for just one keyword. What would you choose?

If your goal was to bring traffic to your website to then cookie the customer, you’d want to choose a keyword that targets customers further up the funnel: bidding and buying ads for searches like “dealerships near me” “car dealerships in ” or “where to buy a car.”


These are basic searches that can drive some quality traffic to your website. By starting small, even with a tiny budget, you can begin to build a quality ad campaign.

Some starting tips:

  • Limit 3 keywords to an ad group – Ad groups consist of keywords and ads. You should keep these small so that the keywords and ads are aligned. So if your keyword is “dealerships near Pittsburgh” your ad should reinforce that keyword. Using similar copy in your ad as the keyword being searches increases your click-through-rate and can lower your cost-per-click.
  • Use Ad Extensions – Ad Extensions in your ad (like location or a phone number) deliver vital information to your customer to help them make decisions faster. By giving them a button to click for directions to your shop or a phone number they can call right from their phone can increase the odds of a visit. It’s a tiny tweak that can make a world of difference.

Using organic and paid search in tandem to increase your reach pre-cookie is a winning combo to drive sales and build relationships with customers.

Want to learn more about advertising an inventory of cars online? Read about it in our free case study. 

Car Advertising Case Study

Inventory-based advertising is a better way to advertise

Since we're generating specific ads based on a business' inventory, ads are only shown to customers that are ready to buy those products.

This mitigates waste and ensures that you only get clicks that have a better chance of leading to a sale. Inventory-based ads help you skip past the bartering and get right to the sale. Meaning you can spend less time maintaining ads and more time taking care of your business.

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