BMW: one of the top searched for brands among car manufacturers
BMW: one of the top searched for brands among car manufacturers
A view from Greenlight

Audi and BMW top consumer searches for cars, online

In excess of 10.7 million searches were made by UK consumers looking for cars online in August, reveals a report just published by leading independent digital marketing agency, Greenlight.

Greenlight’s ‘Automotive Sector Report – Issue 1’, the first by the agency covering the sector, found that on the car maker front, queries pertaining to Audi and BMW dominated searches. However, dealer-wise, searches for Vauxhall car dealers were most popular.

Greenlight’s findings come hot on the heels of research from GfK. It shows a growing number of UK consumers are comfortable to purchase cars directly via the web and predicts the sale of cars over the internet will accelerate. Having strong online visibility and prominence in results returned by search engines in response to keyword queries therefore, is critical to players when it comes to winning the ‘click’.

Greenlight’s report identified the most popular terms consumers used to browse for cars on Google UK in August and charted those car manufacturers and car dealerships whose websites were most visible to consumer queries.

The report found the terms ‘Audi’ and ‘BMW’ were each queried 450,000 times, cumulatively accounting for 8% of all automotive-related searches in August. ‘Mercedes’ then ‘Vauxhall’ followed with search volumes totaling 368,000 and 301,000, respectively.

Analysis of the search data shows car dealerships made nowhere near a dent on manufacturers, with just 17,170 (0.16%) of all queries pertaining to them.

Of these, Vauxhall car dealers proved to be most sought out. Cumulatively, searches for them made up a 7% share of overall dealer-related queries.

Location-wise, Vauxhall dealers in London were most probed, followed by Birmingham then Leeds.

With regards to digital developments and the relationship between car manufacturers and dealers, Melanie Atkinson, senior automotive analyst at Verdict Research comments: "It’s a fine line between wanting to keep pace with digital developments but also being able to maintain the requirements of dealerships given that they are a prime selling point for manufacturers direct to consumers. We’ve already seen a small number of manufacturers develop virtual showrooms, and we expect others to follow."

Greenlight’s league tables charting the most visible manufacturer sites found Auto Trader was the most visible car-related website, achieving a 75% share of visibility in the organic listings*. Sunday Times Driving (, was the most visible advertiser in the paid listings.

On the dealership front, took top spot. Being visible to a volume of 10,803 searches saw it secure a 63% share of voice in the organic listings. Evans Halshaw meanwhile was the most prominent dealer in the paid listings, attaining a 35% share of voice.

"It’s fair to say that so far both car makers and the public haven’t been able to capitalise on the transactional benefits the internet has offered other sectors," said Joe Vaughan, research manager at GfK Automotive. "But we’re now at a tipping point where the auto industry is revisiting the principle of leveraging the web as a sales channel. The signs look a lot more promising this time.