Putting your cars in front of the right shoppers. Faster than ever before.

Refined search serves up compatible inventory to the right shoppers at the right time.

Shoppers expect search to be simple: After entering a few terms, they expect the most relevant results instantly. And it’s what they’ll get on Autotrader. Using our refined search experience, shoppers find what they’re looking for faster, have less need to filter, and actively engage with more content.?

How does Relevant Search work?

Similar to Best Match on Kelley Blue Book, Relevant Search takes several factors into consideration in order to provide shoppers with a sort option that presents the most relevant vehicles possible.

  • Search results display based on shopper search criteria, previous shopping behavior, merchandising, price and distance of vehicle to the shopper
  • Your inventory gets in front of more likely buyers
  • Alpha ads also serve up relevant inventory for maximum engagement
The Alpha ad has been redesigned and retooled. The ad is now in-line with listings and filters on the SRP and cleaned up to focus shopper’s attention on the activities that matter most to you. Plus, through an improved algorithm, the Alpha ad shows off the right vehicle to the right shopper.
Minimizes the need to filter results.

How this helps drive shoppers to your VDPs

Relevant Search delivers on shoppers’ needs and expectations to better connect with you. They can view more listings and actively engage with content, making them more likely to convert to your VDPs.

  • Intuitive, relevant results
  • Minimizes the need to filter results?
  • Faster navigation
  • Increased engagement?

It guides shoppers quickly by serving them compatible inventory, simplifying their buying process.

Merchandising matters: Discover how to attract more attention and higher engagement for your vehicles.

Best Practices ›

1.8M more VDPs

Better Engagement

The mobile-first and relevant search experience are working together to deliver simplified listings and pertinent inventory, fast. There’s been an increase of 1.8 million VDPs across the site in the month of June.?

Relevant Search Experience FAQs

What can I do to impact where my inventory falls within the search results?

Merchandising and value categories can be influenced, while distance and shopper history are completely dependent on the shopper. Remember that it’s not just about getting shoppers to look at your inventory, but giving them the information they need to make decisions and take the next step with your dealership. Here are a few best practices you can use to ensure your listings are fully optimized.


  • Use vehicle comments to show the reasons behind your price. Tell shoppers if it's a rare vehicle, in pristine condition, or has after-market accessories! Share the unique value of each vehicle. (We do not perform keyword searches of comments.)
  • Include 15-20 quality photos in addition to video to merchandise your vehicle. While quantity of photos aids in ranking, quality of photo aids in engagement. Always keep in mind you’re selling to a person, not our algorithm.
    • Review tips for taking quality photos HERE.
    • See the impact HERE merchandising new vehicles can have on your performance.
    • See the impact HERE merchandising used vehicles can have on your performance.
  • Share all the details about the vehicle. Work with your inventory provider to ensure inventory options such as trim level and packages are complete.

Based on shopper feedback, we also consider recently added vehicles and price changes.


  • Competitively price your vehicles based on your market.
  • See how your prices compare to the Fair Market Range zones. Log in to Dealers.Autotrader.com , navigate to the “Vehicles” tab then choose “Pricing” to view the Vehicles Pricing Tool.
  • For new vehicles, include a retail and MSRP.
  • For new vehicles, turn on the New Car Price Transparency tool to show the details behind your list price. Visit Dealers.Autotrader.com, navigate to the “Advertising Products” tab then choose “Dealership Merchandising”. Under “Offer Settings” select “Price Markdown” and choose how you prefer to show the math.

Vehicles with below average mileage are taken into consideration.

These best practices are general tips for your advertising across your website, Autotrader, or any other third-party listing site. This isn’t a guarantee to show at the top of all searches since each search is unique to the shopper.

Why did Autotrader change the default sort of its search results?

Prior to the change, Autotrader’s sort order defaulted to ‘Price - High to Low.’ Through testing, we found that search results sorted by Relevance received more shopper engagement and resulted in higher consumer satisfaction. Keep in mind that shoppers still have the ability to re-sort listings by Price, Distance, Mileage, and Year. We see about 23% of shoppers changing the sort.1

What is the benefit of this change?

Like every Autotrader site enhancement, this change is designed to deliver a better consumer shopping experience AND increase the quality of dealer value events on Autotrader. This means driving more SRP to VDP conversion and getting more shoppers viewing more VDPs.

This is only the initial phase of the change and will continue to evolve to deliver more engagement and more quality leads, as we connect shoppers with the cars they want to buy better than ever before.

How does Autotrader know what shoppers are more likely to engage with?

We’ve analyzed behavioral data from shoppers on Autotrader and paired these learnings with years of tests and insights to guide the four main categories of relevance:

  • MERCHANDISING – Shoppers are more likely to engage with well merchandised vehicles.2
  • VALUE – The perception of a price is as important as the price itself.2
  • DISTANCE – Distance factors into shopping decisions for many consumers3
  • SHOPPER HISTORY – Shoppers expect websites to remember their shopping history and use it to provide a personalized experience4

Since we have tested and launched this new Relevance search results model, shoppers experience a more efficient search and spend less time filtering which results in viewing and engaging with MORE vehicles than the previous default sort.5

Is Autotrader changing its Premium – Featured – Standard tiering of listings?

Relevant search is still within our tier models, no changes at this time.

If two vehicles have the same relevancy criteria, which displays first?

The algorithm has a secondary sort order in place that is used as a tie-breaker in situations where the relevancy criteria is the same. As of today, the secondary sort order is distance near to far. We are testing to determine if this is the optimal approach and this may change in the future.

Why were my vehicles not showing up before other non-local dealers?

In April, we refined the relevance algorithm so that local dealers achieve more prominence than non-local dealers. Since launch, it’s been our general practice to only allow non-local dealers 5% of used inventory in any given local market.