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Understanding programmatic keyword generation and bidding for paid search

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on May 20, 2019

The number of keyword combinations you should be using in your paid search strategy can add up quickly. For example, there are over 50,000 potential keywords you can bid on if your dealership wants to market and inventory of 20 make/model combinations from 10 model years in 10 different colors with 5 different trim levels across 5 local metro areas.

At this scale, you can’t choose keywords one by one. Luckily, today’s algorithmic paid search tools solve these problems through a combination of smart decision-making and extensive data.

Algorithmic keyword generation lets dealers scale

An algorithmic approach teaches keyword generation software that in a search like “Blue Ford F-150 Lariat near Pittsburgh,” you could swap out any color for the first word and still have a good keyword. And you could use any logical make and model combination, and any matching trim level.

Programmatic keyword generation also solves the problem of keeping keywords in sync with available inventory. An automated paid search solution can pull from a dealer’s existing inventory feed to continually update keywords and make sure they’re in sync with what the dealer has on the lot. That inventory feed also provides a landing page for each keyword: the VDP for the car that best matches the search keyword.

Adjust for many keyword combinations using relative bidding

Another problem with large-scale campaigns is how to set and adjust bids for so many keywords. The algorithmic solution is to use relative bidding.

It’s fairly simple, given enough data. The system uses performance data to set relative values for each keyword: a very specific search with a location might be worth 5 times what a generic search for the same vehicle is.

Once the relative values are established, spending for the entire campaign can be increased or decreased as needed to meet monthly budgets. The relative bids ensure you’re still spending more on those valuable, end-of-the-funnel keywords.

The bottom line

Paid search is central to digital marketing for car dealers. We know that’s not a revelation, but it’s important to understand. To tackle it, you’re going to need a programmatic approach to keyword generation and a relative bidding strategy that can help you scale.

To learn more about a managed paid search solution from CarGurus, visit today.

Topics: paid search, search engine marketing, SEM