Is Your Dealership Getting Brandjacked? Here’s How to Stop It

Your brand online

The Google quality score used to serve as a natural deterrent to buying your competitors’ brand names, however so many dealers refused to buy their own name that they left themselves open to brandjacking. Now, brandjacking has turned into a default strategy for search agencies and in-house search teams to deliver high quality, in-market shoppers to a dealer’s competitors’ websites.

Here’s how brandjacking works. Say you run the largest Yugo dealer in Southern California, Yugo of Irvine. Your store pumps out deliveries to the surrounding dealer areas of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Anaheim. Due to your imposing footprint and massive share, you decide not to buy your own brand name “Yugo of Irvine” as a Google search term. You think to yourself, “Why would I pay Google for people who are already searching for me?”

Now, let’s say Yugo of Huntington Beach starts to buy your dealership’s name. As they start getting clicks on your name, their quality score gets higher and higher. Google starts to believe that a fair number of people who search for “Yugo of Irvine” actually meant to search for “Yugo of Huntington Beach.” This drives down their cost-per-click and actually drives yours up. To make matters worse, since you’re not competing for those keywords, your name becomes one of the most effective and affordable keywords in their search account.

The most frustrating part of this is that these campaigns are quite effective. Taking a closer look at Google Analytics tells us that shoppers who come to dealer websites through brandjacking spend three or four minutes on the site and look at more than seven pages. This high level of engagement is the exact behavior we look for from shoppers who are actively looking for their next car.

The point of this story is to illustrate how effective brandjacking can be for the dealership doing the jacking. To the consumer it makes no difference. They do a search, click a link, and start browsing for cars. Whether it’s on your site or your competitor’s doesn’t matter to them. Luckily for you, brandjacking is easy to stop: just buy your own brand name as a search term. The bad news is that if you have been brandjacked for some time, it is going to be expensive at first. You’ll have to re-prove to Google that if someone is searching for your name, they intend to browse your site.

If someone searches for your dealership by name, they are very likely to be an in-market sales or service customer. If you don’t buy this search query, then someone else will. In today’s cutthroat market, it is more important than ever that they see your site before your competitor’s –especially if they’re already searching for you.

Dave Pavlu is the founder and CEO of A full-service digital marketing agency based in Seattle, WA specializing in online marketing strategies that drive and capture first-party leads for car dealerships.

Michael Bowen


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