Are potential customers easily finding your shop when they search online? Or are you losing out in possible revenue because your site isn’t showing up with common searches? This week’s blog is all about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and, while there is a plethora of information on the subject, will focus exclusively on the top 5 SEO tips for auto repair shops. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just not sure where to start in making sure your shop’s SEO is tip-top, this is for you!
Top 5 SEO Tips for Auto Repair Shops
#1: A Great Website
Your website is the foundation to any terms you optimize for search engines. If you don’t have a quick-loading and easy-to-navigate site, then you’ll be doing all that work for nothing. Google checks both of these things (on top of design, keywords, content, etc.) and will dock you if they aren’t up to par. Meaning you still won’t show up in the top three of the coveted first page and, even if potential customers do find you, they’ll be frustrated by the lack of usability and leave before your page has even finished loading. (In case you didn’t know, your site should load within five seconds at most. Pages that take four or more seconds to load average a 90% or higher bounce rate. (How Fast Should My Website Load?).
Once you’re confident in your site’s design, usability, and speed, it’s time to focus on keywords. Keywords are the terms that people are searching that you want your shop to appear on. You can use these keywords on your pages (think title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, URLs, images, etc.) to help Google rank you higher and show your shop further on the page when people search for those terms. They’re the basis of SEO and why they come right after website on our list of SEO tips for auto repair shops.
This doesn’t mean that you should only pick one or two keywords, though. You need to pick a few (I’d say aim for at least ten or so to work with in the beginning) and don’t be afraid of long-tail keywords. For example, “auto repair” would be a short keyword while “brake pad repair in Oklahoma City” would be a long-tail keyword. You can use tools within the Google Search Console and online to do research on keywords for your shop. Typically, auto repair shops have an easier time with keyword SEO as you’re appealing to a pretty localized audience versus companies that are trying to appeal to audiences around the country or world.
And while keyword meta data is not relevant (if you see this on the back-end of your website, don’t worry about it), using those same keywords in your title tags, meta descriptions (the small description that you set to showcase when people see your page on Google), and within your URLs can go a long way to helping you rank higher for those searches. Obviously, you’re going to want to then use those keywords within the actual content on your site, as well.
There are two SEO tips you should always remember about content: it needs to be good and it needs to have keywords. What do I mean by good? Your content can’t be simple spam to use keywords (think about articles you find online that are misleading or just use the same phrase over and over without answering the questions) or else Google will dock it. Additionally, your content needs to actually help people – either by providing the information they’re looking for (shop hours, directions) or answering the questions they have (services offered, if you can help). If you are simply using buzzy keywords or even optimizing for phrases that don’t match, potential customers are going to take one look and click the back button. Which means your bounce rate goes up and Google’s “score” for your site goes down, leading to less people finding you.
While posting daily or weekly blogs can help build your content and options for keywords, it can be a little daunting. Why? Because not only do you need to be writing that content consistently, but it should ideally be 600+ words, include images, be optimized with title and header tags, and have at least one or two links to relevant content on either your own site or another well-established site.
In the beginning, I’d focus on one or two well-created pages that are your home base. These pages (often referred to as pillar pages, trophy cases, spotlight pages, etc.) are where you’ll dive into one topic as in-depth as you can before linking to pages that are specific to those details. For example, you could have an “Auto Repair” page on your site that would be the beacon for keyword phrase “auto repair in Ogden.” On that page, you’ll want to take the time to list out all the auto repairs your shop provides (maintenance, diagnostics, brake repairs, electrical repairs, part replacement, etc.). Within each paragraph, you can use a modified version of the keyword – think “brake repair in Ogden” or “auto maintenance in Ogden” – and link to a page that is specific to that topic. It may take a bit longer than one or two blog posts but gives your shop the perfect foundation for growing SEO.
Just think, when you are able to get on that weekly blog schedule (or have a staff member specifically for that), you’ll only be building on that good SEO and have plenty of pages to link to when you mention those topics. It will put your shop a step ahead!
Links are also an important part of SEO for auto repair shops. When you link to other reputable sites and they link to you, Google sees your site as more trustworthy and is okay to promote it higher on the ranking list. Now how do you get your site linked on other websites?
Go back to marketing 101 – what is one of the best ways to help get your shop’s name out in your community? Community events! By participating in community events or even sponsoring them, your website can easily be linked when those pages or sites talk about the event. In addition, news coverage of the events can provide more links. And don’t forget to promote these events on your own page with links to those sites as well. It will help both of your sites and continue to foster relationships for future events!
Just remember to not fall for “black-hat” methods like linking to spam pages or agreeing to “link for link” deals. While they may provide an initial boost in ranking, Google will find out, mark it as spam, and your site will end up only further down the rankings. Plus, it will take some time for the algorithm to trust your links as reputable. Just focus on linking to actual community events, articles that your staff appears in, or even pieces that your staff may have written for automotive publications.
Not falling into “black-hat” SEO methods leads to the final SEO tip for auto repair shops. Keep being valuable for your customers! If you focus so much on getting new people into your shop without taking care of them or providing the experience you promise, you’ll quickly rack up the bad reviews and lose whatever credibility you had on the Google search rankings. By always making sure that your shop is providing a great experience and really showing value to customers, you’ll be more likely to bring in potential customers. SEO work can only do so much if your shop isn’t actually helping people.
And there you have it, the top 5 SEO tips for automotive repair shops. If you want to know more about SEO and marketing in general, check out the upcoming MARS Conference next weekend. the institute will have marketing experts training on websites, SEO, Google search, Yelp, social media, guerrilla marketing, and more. It’s what your shop needs to make 2020 the best year yet!