What Are Other Dealerships Doing in the Paid Search Space?

Top 3 tools to spy on your PPC competition.

In the automotive world, it is easy to lose track of what competing dealerships are doing in the paid search space. The focus is on driving new business, selling cars, and getting new service customers. When business is not growing at the percentage you would like, it is important to keep an eye on what other dealers are doing online. Specifically who is appearing in your top searches, what is their ad copy strategy, how is their website setup to convert visitors to leads, etc. You will want to see what dealers are doing so that you can revise your own strategy. This will help you to stand out from the competition and to gain a larger market share percentage.

Google Ad Preview Tool

This tool is free and offers a quick and easy way to check on current search results in your area. The tool can be accessed at the following URL: adwords.google.com/d/AdPreview/

All that you need to do is enter the keyword you would like to search, and the city or region that you would like to perform the search from. This will allow you to see results from other cities or states exactly as they would appear to a local searcher. Remember that results can change at certain times of day or days of week, so it is a good practice to check several times to see the lay of the land.

The Ad Preview Tool also allows you to specify a device to see search results from (desktop, tablet, or mobile). The default is desktop, but it is important to monitor mobile as well. If you are not in the top 2 positions for mobile searches, you will get very little traffic from that source. Remember that a high percentage of leads and calls come from mobile searches, so this should be a critical part of any automotive paid search strategy.

Auction Insights Report

This is another free competitor research tool that is available through the Google interface. When logged into your Google Adwords account, simply click on Details | Auction Insights | All at the campaign, ad group, or keyword level. See screen shot below.


This report will show you how you fare against your competitors. This is a great way to see what new competitors have entered the space and which ones have changed their strategy to be more aggressive.

Remember that if there are any competitors that you always want to stay above in the search results, Google does have an outrank option that will allow you to have your bid automated to stay in front of the competition at all times. Check in with your paid search specialist for details.

Website & Social Media Review

Tried and true, a simple website review of your nearest competitors can be very helpful. Are they doing a better job listing current specials and promotions? Are they offering a free gift card with a test drive? Do they have better reviews? Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer. If they are looking at the closest dealers and comparing offers and reviews, you will want to stand out.

If your competitors are doing a better job in any of these areas, reach out to your digital marketing team to discuss options and ideas for optimization.

For those of you who manage multiple rooftops and/or have dealerships in multiple states, there are third party tools available to help automate your competitor monitoring to keep you posted when there are changes in specific regions or for specific keywords. One of these companies is The Search Monitor. They can also monitor ad copy to make sure that no trademarked terms are appearing in your competitor’s ads.

As we get closer to the New Year, this could be a great addition to your list of New Year Resolutions. Make sure that you are aware of your competition’s presence online and take the time to do an honest review of strengths and weaknesses to improve your sales numbers for 2015.

Click here to download this complimentary, educational PPC eBook today to learn the most critical tactics and strategies to improving your PPC ROI.

All the best,


Michelle Kelly is a Sr. PPC Consultant at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia area advertising agency.

Michelle Kelly


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