When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), knowing where to start can be a bit overwhelming. You know your end goal for acquiring SEO services for your auto repair shop – to show up in the top position of the search results. But getting there is the real challenge.
The internet is constantly evolving. It seems like just when you get used to how to navigate and become a pro at using Google and social media platforms, boom! There’s an update. You are left feeling like, “I just knew everything about this, and now I have no idea what is going on!” Welcome to the world of SEO, haha! We SEO’s have a saying, “It’s Google’s world, and we just rank in it.” Search engines are continuously changing, evolving, and getting better every day. These changes keep us doing the same with our strategies and what we need to focus on to continue to rank while these changes occur. But certain SEO practices NEVER change, so let’s focus on those in this article.
Where do you start?
1) Keyword Focus
If we asked you the question “What terms do you want your shop to rank for?” right now, we are pretty sure that you would give us common answers that we hear from many shops. These are terms like:
But keyword focus goes more in-depth than those apparent terms. Asking additional questions helps get the keywords we’re looking for, like what services are most important to your auto repair business? Those are the keywords you want to be found for when someone needs those services and uses a search engine. What services do you have mentioned on your website? Your repair shop’s website content should be optimized for the services that are a priority to your business. A more profound question to ask is, what are your customers’ mindsets or pain points? Knowing the answers to these questions helps you have the proper keyword focus for your repair shop’s website.
If you own a generalist auto shop, your keyword focus will be on the general repair and maintenance key terms. If you own a specialty shop, your keyword focus will be much more specific. For example, if you’re a European shop specializing in German vehicle repair, you would want to focus on terms those vehicle owners will be searching for instead of ranking for ‘auto repair.’ Examples of those terms would include ‘European auto repair,’ ‘german repair shop,’ or ‘Mercedes repair shop.’
As SEO experts at Shop Marketing Pros, we have spent time researching what main keywords our repair shop clients should put focus on. We tailor our focus to meet the needs of each shop individually and the customers they serve. Ultimately, we work together with our clients to be sure that they are found organically for the repairs and services that are most important to them. That is why it is crucial for you as a shop owner to have a good idea of which keywords are essential to focus on as that steers the direction of your SEO.
2) Website Audit
Your auto repair shop website’s primary purpose is to convert users to customers by scheduling an appointment with you. But if your website is slow, outdated, full of useless information, and confusing to navigate, more than likely, you will not be generating anything with it but user drop-offs. That’s why an SEO audit of your website is a top priority when starting SEO. At Shop Marketing Pros, we perform a manual and technical audit of our client’s websites. When we perform the manual audit, we go through each page of the website to ensure that all standard SEO practices are followed.
Here are just a few questions that we ask ourselves when doing an audit:
- Is the keyword located in the URL?
- Is the keyword used in the headings and throughout the content following the NLP (natural language processing)?
- Is the keyword stuffed in the content bloating it until that is all you see?
- Do the website pages have good standing titles and meta descriptions with the focused keyword?
As we work through the audit, we have a running checklist to track what is correct on the website and what is incorrect regarding SEO. We will then add the issues we find to our high-priority action item list.
SEMrush SEO Tool Website Audit Example
We then dive into the technical SEO side of the website. Tools like SEMrush and Google Search Console are super helpful in gaining insight into the overall health of a website. They also show where some significant issues could negatively affect the website’s ranking. Some of these issues are pages not being indexed by Google, broken or toxic links, elements on the pages being too small, etc. We will also test the site speed using tools like GTmetrix and Google’s PageSpeed Insights. These are vital in revealing certain assets on a website that could be causing the site to take way too long to load. It’s known that your website has a 1-3 second window load time to capture a user. When your website takes longer than that to load, that poses a significant problem to your traffic, negatively impacting your SEO.
3) Google Business Profile
Google listings are one of our favorite platforms for working our SEO magic! As we have mentioned in our recent blog, “Marketing Your Multi-Location Auto Repair Shop,” your Google listing is the easiest way to market your shop and the services that you provide. They are simple to create and optimize so that you can be sure to show up locally in the search results.
With that said, to gain and maintain a local presence, your listing needs to be correctly optimized and updated consistently. It is crucial to be sure you utilize every SEO opportunity a listing provides.
To know if your auto shop’s listing is optimized correctly, here are some key components to look at:
- Your shop name – Your shop name should be the same on your listing as it shows on your business documents – this goes for your website as well. We’ll touch base more about that soon. Some SEOs or shop owners will try to fit every keyword possible into their business name. Does this help your SEO? We are pretty sure it does. But what it also does is create red flags. It gets the attention of Google and your Competitors, and not in a beneficial way. Not only is it seen as “bad SEO practices,” but Google can suspend your listing for it. Although getting a listing that has been suspended reinstated is possible, it is not guaranteed, and your listing will pay the price. You stand to lose reviews you have worked hard and long hours for and trust with Google.
- Correct Business Category – This is another opportunity to get your focus keyword into your listing. Most shops will have the ‘Auto repair …” category. If you are a specialty shop that works on trucks only, you will want to choose “Truck repair shop….”
ABS Unlimited Auto Repair Google Business Profile Listing
- Correct Address and Phone Number – This is positively important for your shop’s SEO success. Having the correct address and actual phone number (not a tracking number) on your listing to match that on your website and social media platforms is vital for your rankings.
- Shop Hours – This is rather obvious, but keeping your listing consistent on all platforms is good SEO housekeeping.
- Website & Appointment Link – Google makes it easy for users to access your website. When you add your website URL to your listing, it shows up as a button or link, and you can even add your appointment page URL.
- Updated Photos – Google loves new content and updates – they update constantly! They also love updated photos and reward your rankings for them. Most importantly, photos are one of the easiest ways to build familiarity with your audience and to get them to “Know, Like, & Trust” your shop. As internet users, it is natural to “get to know” someone by scrolling through their images. It’s the same concept with potential customers. Add images of your shop’s amenities and specific services you have performed.
- Optimized Business & Service Descriptions – Speaking of know, like, and trust, shops that do not take advantage of adding business and service descriptions are missing out on SEO and conversion opportunities. These features are perfect places to add essential keywords, business information, and calls to action.
- Updated Posts – Posting weekly updates to your listing is an excellent way to boost your trust and reward with Google. It is also a great way to showcase your latest content added to your website, like your latest blog! This boosts website traffic while improving your rankings at the same time.
The optimization opportunities are endless with your Google Business Profile – as long as you know how to seize them. The key to your auto repair shop listing’s success is how often you maintain and update it. Marketing is a full-time job. Trust us – we know!
4) Citation Building and Correction
To understand why Citations are a priority for your auto repair shop SEO, you will need to know what they are. Citations are an online reference of a business that features its name, address, phone number, or NAP. They are also called directories. It is a shock to some people, but there are so many other ways that people can find your shop other than Google, hence these citations. More importantly, citations are considered a ranking factor in your local SEO. Having your auto repair shop listed in directories that Google trusts send signals to the search engine that your shop exists, building a good rapport with Google while improving your rankings.
Just because your shop is listed in one of these directories does not automatically make it a good thing for your SEO. The citations’ quality, quantity, and accuracy are vital to your local SEO success. When building citations, Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and Bing are great places to start but are just a few of many opportunities. Please verify that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is accurate on all citations and match that info on your website and Google Business Listing. If not, you will end up with directories showing your repair shop with incorrect information making a mess of your online presence.
If you have been in business for years and are just now recognizing the importance of SEO for your auto repair shop, there is no question that you have citations already established online. The questions that do arise, though, are: Are they accurate? And are they of good quality? Correcting citations can be a nightmare. It takes much time and effort to do so, but it is possible.
One of the first services we perform for our Shop Marketing Pros SEO clients is to run a citation audit. This helps us gather a list of all the directories that they have online and then get to work correcting, verifying the citations and removing any that are not worthy. Does this sound like too much for you? No worries, call us, and we will gladly help!
5) Your Content
Last but certainly not least is to prioritize your content – especially the quality of it. There are often misconceptions that content posted on your website, Google listing, and other platforms is just for optimization and ranking purposes. Or that the quality of the information on the page is irrelevant as long as you have a certain number of words about a particular topic or keyword that you are focusing on.
Clients often comment: “nobody reads all that stuff on the page. I know it is more for SEO purposes and ranking.” We have to help them understand that the content your shop is putting online, the quality of it, has to be purposeful and valuable to the user. After all, the user is searching for an answer to a problem they are experiencing with their vehicle. When your shop shows up in the search providing them with a helpful solution, you have earned their trust, and either a phone call or a form in your inbox requesting an appointment for service.
Google’s mission is to inform the world with the most helpful information it can find within seconds. Their algorithms are constantly evolving to support this mission. And don’t let Google’s artificial intelligence fool you. Google has standards regarding the quality of the helpful information it presents to the world wide web. It is no longer searching for the content with the highest use of a keyword to present to the user. What captures Google’s attention is the personalized information on your website that will fit the needs of the user that Google already knows – probably better than they know themselves!
Here are some tips to follow when creating content for your auto repair shop:
- Personalization – You want the content on your website and other platforms your shop is being marketed to be tailored to your services. Going a step further is adding information about your shop that showcases your quality of care and your policies and procedures on meeting and caring for your customers’ needs. Think: “What separates our shop from our competitors?”
- Speaking your customer’s language – We realize that if you are an auto repair shop owner, you are most likely knowledgeable about repairs and maintenance of vehicles, the tools you use, and the proper terms to use. But do your customers? When creating content, you want to be sure to write or have the content written the same way your customers talk. Not sure what we mean by that? Check out this blog by our fearless leader Brian Walker here.
- Answer your customers’ questions – When a customer calls your shop, they are calling because they need answers – answers only you can provide. When creating new content for your monthly blog, webpage, or Google listing, think about the common problems you see with the vehicles coming into your shop. Those same common issues you see are what vehicle owners in your area are searching for. You want to be sure the information you are providing that shows up on Google is relevant for those customers when they do.
- Content is more than words – Content comes in more forms than just a blog or an optimized webpage on your auto repair shop website. A video is a unique form of content. It can inform your target audience, engage them, and help them get to know you and your shop culture – you know the ole “Know, Like & Trust” thing we mentioned earlier. Video is also dynamic. You can create a blog post off of a video that you made where you are answering one of those commonly searched questions and upload it to youtube. Now you have an opportunity to optimize the video description, link it to the blog post on your website, and be found in the search results – not one way, but two ways to improve your SEO! Did we mention that Google loves videos as well?! Content-based on videos is a way to work your SEO smarter, not harder.