Google Adwords vs. SEO: Which Is Better For Your Car Dealership?

Google is undoubtedly the king of online marketing.

According to Forbes, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will soon be an $80 billion industry; not surprisingly, the concept of ranking #1 for certain search terms is highly appealing and, mostly, free of cost. However, increased competition and constantly shifting algorithms makes SEO a tough nut to crack, to say the least.

That isn’t to say that Google Adwords is much easier; although you have more control over what terms you show up for and the path your prospect takes from search to conversion, it is not uncommon for ad costs to skyrocket one day, only to fall the next.

Although you have ultimate control over your budget, your daily ad spend can produce varied results for reasons (sometimes) unknown.

So, which form of advertising, Google Adwords versus SEO, is better for car dealership marketing?

Let’s examine the pros and cons of each.


It’s clear why SEO is so popular… it’s mostly free.

The key word here is mostly; see, since the competition on Google Search is so intense, companies are dumping millions of dollars to ensure that they show up as the top result for high-traffic keywords. A #1 spot can mean thousands of organic traffic visitors a day which, when done properly, can mean a passive funnel of leads for your business.

But what does that mean for the little guy? Is SEO still a viable option for small to mid-level car dealers?

The answer is yes, of course.

While you might struggle to get on the front page for big-traffic search terms such as ‘buy a car’ or ‘where to buy a vehicle’, you can still optimize for local search terms that are more specific to your location, meaning much lower traffic.

The caveat here is if you live in a big city or an area with lots of car dealerships, it can be difficult to get your website up there in the rankings.

Also, it can be tough to get highly-targeted traffic since you’ll never be able to get the exact search terms and page rankings that you want. Some of your content will rank, others will not; unfortunately, your fate is mostly up to the powers-that-be at Google.

The same is true for the imminent Google Algorithm Updates; if the company decides to introduce a new update, your rankings can be wiped out overnight, which means lots of lost traffic and sales.

However, if you start ranking for targeted and buyer-intent keywords, you will notice an influx of hot leads that come in every single day, at no cost to you whatsoever.

Google Adwords

When it comes to car dealership marketing, Google Adwords should make up a major portion of your budget.

Adwords allow you much more control than SEO does in terms of what search queries your website shows up for; this means more targeted traffic in both intent and location.

The downside is Adwords cost money.

While certain terms can be quite inexpensive, high competition means high Cost-Per-Click; the more clicks you need, the more money you’ll spend.

Although Adwords allows you to control your maximum CPC and daily ad budget, the amount of traffic you get will vary; ten clicks for a certain term might cost you $10 the one day and $20 the next, and it will always be changing.


Adwords and SEO both have their pros and cons; when it comes to advertising your car dealership, both of these platforms should be used so as to diversify and attract as many buyers as you can.

Never stop experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t work for your car dealership marketing plan.

If you need help from auto dealership advertising experts, read about our services at https://www.catalystautomotive.com.au/services