From time to time we will get a letter from a dealer's attorney demanding that we stop using a dealerships name in our search marketing efforts. This also is a topic that dealers post about on the various dealer forums under headings like "Edmunds is stealing my customers." Today it surfaced again in an article from WardsAuto.com claiming that third party sites are siphoning off a dealer’s potential customers. (You can read the article here.) Looking beyond the fact that this issue was poorly framed—isn’t everyone a potential customer?—the gist of these statements relates to how we conduct search marketing.
I thought this might be a good place to clarify how Edmunds uses search terms.
First off, let's step back. Very few people come to Edmunds to learn about Edmunds. Fundamental to our business model is that consumers come to Edmunds to learn about someone else's products. For example, someone interested in learning about a Chrysler 200 might visit Edmunds to read a review or check pricing.
If we have relevant content, Google will probably give a high rank to our content on organic search results and we will probably buy paid keywords related to this content. Using Chrysler's trademark to promote this content is a legally permitted use.
Similarly, Edmunds is a place where consumers can go to learn about dealers. They can read consumer reviews, see how many vehicles are in stock, etc, etc. If we use the name of the dealership to promote this content, it is again a permitted use. Dealers may find it annoying, but again, legally we are on very solid ground.
At our core, Edmunds is an authoritative source of information about other company's trademarked products. It is what we do.