Don’t Get Used by the Pre-Owned Game: Do Keyword Research

dealer website keyword research - used vs. pre-owned

Last year in the United States, over 40 million used cars were sold by over 49,000 used car dealers (according to the NIADA). That shows how competitive the used car market is and how important it is to distinguish your dealership from those vying for the same potential customers. Optimizing for the right terms – the terms the customers actually use – could be what keeps your dealership in business.

As a dealer, you want to describe your inventory in the best light possible, but overly descriptive words could be detrimental to your dealership if the customer isn’t looking for those same terms. Knowing what the customer is looking for gives a dealer a distinct advantage when optimizing a website to show up higher in search results.

Pre-owned vs Used

For instance, many dealers like to use the term “pre-owned cars” – it sounds much nicer and has a more positive connotation. According to Google, customers are 45 times more likely to search for “used cars” than “pre-owned cars” – so obviously, you shouldn’t be using that term on your site. Google’s Keyword Planner shows that “pre-owned cars” is searched for 9,900 times a month, which seems like a lot… until you realize that the number is for nation wide searches. Compare that to the term “used cars,” which is searched for 450,000 times a month – that’s where the money is.

If your website is focused on selling “pre-owned cars,” you could be missing all the potential leads from customers searching for “used cars.” This would be like starting an oyster business, but only focusing on selling the term “bivalve mollusks.” Technically it’s the same thing, but the customer doesn’t ever use that term in Google.

Be careful with branding yourself as a “pre-owned dealer” for the same reason. Customers are 240 times more likely to search for “used car dealer” than they are to search for a “pre-owned dealer.”

Vehicle vs Car

There’s also a considerable difference between using the word “vehicle” instead of “car.” Again, “used cars” is searched 450,000 times a month, but the term “used vehicles” is only searched 3,600 times a month. This shows that customers are over 125 times more likely to search for “cars” than “vehicles.”

Quality vs Best

Customers want the “best” around and don’t care much about “quality.” Dealerships have a tendency to use the word “quality” as if that’s the only term that describes their inventory. Let’s check Google’s numbers again – customers are 22 times more likely to search for  “best used cars” than for “quality used cars”. It’s important to write about having the best cars on your lot instead having a lot full of quality vehicles.

Financing Terms matter too

Let’s face it – some of us are a little less fortunate when it comes time to roll out our credit report reports. Dealers like to finesse the language around financing to make it sound more positive, but folks with “bad credit” don’t finesse their situation when they search. Consumers are 16 times more likely to look for “bad credit financing” for their next purchase than to look for “poor credit financing.”

Dealers also like to use the term “challenged credit” – but according to Google’s estimates, “bad credit” is searched 48 times more. Getting the picture yet?

The term “auto loan” is searched 4 times more than “auto credit.” Regardless of whether you want to offer a loan or extend credit, the customer is searching for an “auto loan.”

As with any industry, you can’t predict when a customer is ready to make their next purchase. But, thanks to Google’s Keyword Planner, you can predict what they’ll be searching for when they’re ready to buy their next used car. Make sure that you speak their language on your website, and you’ll rank better, get more leads, and sell more cars.