Auto Repair SEO For Local Domination
SEO For Auto Repair Shops
Your 14-Day Marketing Plan
If you own an automotive repair shop owner, you have undoubtedly heard about search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.
But you are a mechanic, not a marketer.
I grew up in the automotive repair industry. Being raised in the Mennonite sect, I had three career options: automotive, farming, or construction. Only one of those guaranteed that I got to work in a heated garage in the winter, so by 16, I was interning with the church’s auto repair shops.
Growing a mechanic shop isn’t for everyone. Some folks want a two-bay shop that they run with a couple of helpers. Thankfully, you don’t need marketing skills to stay in business as a mechanic. All you need is a decently-priced service and visibility near a high-traffic road.
Fun Fact: Increasing Your Position In Google From Position #2 to Position #1 can result in a 212% increase in visitors!
There are Two Paths In Front Of You:
- If you just want to work hard, and just “make a living”, that path is pretty easy to achieve as a 1- to 3-man shop. In that case, you don’t need much marketing.
- If you want to take vacations, have a retirement plan, have security against economic downturns, and leverage the power of human capital to grow your business, you will have to scale.
Scaling means that you will need an auto repair shop marketing and SEO Strategy.
For that auto repair shop owner who want to grow their business, this article will provide the most sure-fire seo tips you can take to promote your local shop.
There are two boring definitions I need to explain, “automotive SEO” and ” Local SEO”.
What Is Automotive SEO?
Automotive SEO is a strategy that delivers higher rankings in the search engines for auto repair-related keywords. This could include focusing on marketing for search terms (keywords) such as “auto repair city name” or “alternator replacement city name”. The beauty of automotive SEO is that there is a wide variety of search terms that consumers will seek service for.
The greater variety of keywords associated with the industry makes automotive SEO less expensive than more competitive local SEO niches.
The key is to focus on keywords that will yield the highest profit margin but require the least amount of effort to rank for. For example, keywords such as “mechanic near me” or “auto body repair near me” will likely be more competitive due to their lucrative nature. For a brand-new site, a long-tail SEO strategy that brings in traffic for keywords such as “head gasket replacement near me” will yield faster results at a lower marketing cost.
Other top search terms to optimize for could be
- best auto repair shop near me
- muffler repair near me
- best mechanic near me
- brake repair near me
- timing belt replacement near me
- transmission repair near me
Why Does Local SEO Matter?
Local SEO is now the primary way to drive traffic to your business page. In the old days, we would take out large ads in the Yellow Pages of the phone book. Now, we have to promote our business to the top of Google, Bing, and Apple Maps.
With over 6 billion smartphone users around the world, your customers are doing their research online. Furthermore, the top 3 websites in Google receive 50% of the total clicks for a term.
In other words, if you aren’t in the top-3, you are literally picking up the “leftover scraps” from the floor.
The top-3 businesses in the search engines are the ones that can charge the highest prices and enjoy the most consistent flow of business. The most effective auto shop marketing is in the online space.
Step #1: Keyword Research
You don’t tear into an engine without the proper manual, and you shouldn’t embark on a marketing strategy without a proper marketing plan.
Keyword research provides the roadmap for all of your marketing efforts.
Ideally, you should do the keyword research before you even build your website (not to fear, if you’ve gotten this step out of order).
You want to target the right keywords that are the most profitable for your site. Sure, you could rank for “lug nut replacement”, but that will likely have a lower margin than ranking for “brake replacement.
Ask Yourself These Questions When Planning Your Keywords
Keyword research goes faster when you have a tool. Google Keyword Planner inside a free Google Adwords account, Ahrefs, and Semrush are three tools we use to research keywords for our clients. These tools show you how much traffic each term has, and may also show relative SEO difficulty.
Start by targeting the most popular searches, with a page dedicated to each category of service. As your business grows, you can expand your site by adding additional pages and targeting more keywords. This will let you expand your SEO reach at a steady pace.
Generally, you will have primary and secondary keywords. For example, a primary keyword would be “Engine Replacement”, while a secondary keyword might be “Engine Replacement Cost” or “Head Replacement”. Depending on competition, you can either devote a separate page to these, or include them on the same page. Researching how your competitors handle this on a keyword-by-keyword basis is the best way to move forward.
If your shop specializes in certain repairs, make sure those are included as important keywords in your marketing plan. It is entirely possible to shift the types of repairs that your shop performs by increasing the online visibility for specific keywords.
Step #2: Differentiate Your Business
In marketing, we have the concept of a “Unique Selling Proposition”. It is this idea that your business has something unique about it that causes people to choose you over your competitors.
Some mechanics like to compete on price; “no one can beat our prices.” However, the price war always devolves into the lowest common denominator, and at the end of the day, you can’t beat the price of someone’s uncle who is willing to do an engine swap for a case of beer.
We encourage our clients to choose a high-value differentiator. In the auto industry, “trust” and “speed” are two features that help. Here are some common ideas that can get you started on this step:
- Family Owned
- We Treat You Like Family
- Same Day Repair
- 40 Years Of Trusted Service
- We Know Cars
- Your Car Technology Experts
Brainstorming a unique selling proposition can help your business charge a higher price for the same service by delivering on a promise. People are willing to pay more for a quality experience and peace of mind.
Step #3: Get A Fast Website Host
“The Internet Should Be Fast” – Google
Everyone searches for the “best website host” and ends up going with Godaddy or Bluehost. These popular hosts can hurt your SEO.
In my experience, these brands offer some of the slowest hosting options available online.
Website speed has been an important ranking factor for SEO for a long time, and all too often, we have to rebuild a client’s website to help them gain a top-3 ranking.
What looks “cool” on a website is often slow. However, if you have a fast hosting service, it can better support a “cool” design without suffering speed decreases.
After years of frustration, we’ve started offering our own white-label hosting plan. It is hands-down the fastest online in our opinion (we may be biased).
But for years, a close favorite for us has been WPEngine.com.
Step #4: Build Your Auto Repair Shop Website
After you know the top 10 keywords you want to focus on, it is time to build your auto repair website.
Simple and authoritative should be the two primary themes of your business. All you need is a phone number and a contact form.
The rest of the website is a sales page to convince people to contact you.
You don’t need a lot of fancy graphics. A good content management system such as WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or Webflow is all you need to get the site up. State your business name and your unique selling proposition (USP) in plain language near the top of the page.
You want your target customers to immediately know who you are, what you do, and why they should choose you. We call it the 3-second rule (hat tip to Donald Miller). It should feel like you are speaking directly to them.
A lightweight theme will load faster, and a faster-loading website tends to rank more highly in Google. Just make sure that it loads well on mobile devices, since 80% of your traffic will likely be from smartphones.
Invest in a local photographer to get pictures of your shop, signage, and team. If you are on a budget, advertise on Facebook that you need a photographer or in a local group to find a new, unproven photographer to do your shoot. You can often get decent pictures taken for a few hundred dollars.
Also, collect reviews from your favorite customers (we will discuss this below). Including three or more reviews on your site helps to increase a new customer’s confidence in your business.
Step #5: Create Your Instagram & Facebook Page
Listen, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time creating memes to share on your social media platforms. The good news is, you don’t need to.
However, there are certain platforms that every good business will have. If you don’t have a Facebook or Instagram page, the algorithm may “wonder” just how legitimate your business is.
You need a basic “social fortress” to get your business started.
So create a Facebook and Instagram page, and make sure your business name, a link to your website, your address and your business phone number are on there. Then add one photo a week for the next 10 weeks. After that, just add one photo every month to keep it active.
Also, ask a few friends, customers, or family members to stop by your Facebook page and leave reviews. You can later include those on your website.
Finally, link to your Instagram and Facebook page from your website.
Step #6: Create A Youtube Account
There is something you should know about Google: the algorithm seems to be a bit nepotistic. In other words, Google likes to promote their own properties.
Anymore, it is nearly impossible to rank in competitive niches without having a YouTube channel. I mean, you could try, but gosh, having a YouTube channel for your business makes SEO so much easier.
It is also possible to rank YouTube videos on Google, in addition to your maps listing and your website. This can let you have three properties on page 1 of Google for a single search term.
Now, video scares most people. So start with a basic video from Fiverr, or shoot a quick video inviting people to call your business. I’m not asking you to become the next ScottyKilmer or ChrisFix. Just a video to introduce your business and let us start indexing in the search engines for your brand name.
Then, fill out the “about” section on your YouTube channel, including the company’s name, address, phone number, a link to the website, and your social properties. This is a treasure trove of signals for the Google Algorithm.
These basic properties make it easier to get verified for a Google Maps listing.
Step #7: Create a Google Business Profile
This is the quickest step when it comes to online SEO. Customers use the maps for local searches. These map listings have pictures and online reviews, making them a hub of useful information for potential customers.
The good news is that, for business owners, these business listings are free to create.
For some businesses, these “map packs” or “local pack” section of Google drives the most traffic
You want to create one on Google, one on Bing, and one on Apple Maps. Here are links to each of them:
- Google Business Profile (Formerly Google My Business)
- Bing Maps (Bing Places)
- Apple Maps (Apple Business Connect)
Make sure your GMB has the correct information. This includes hours of operation, and the category of your business listing.
Step #8: Install A Sitemap
You’ll need this for step #8. An XML sitemap makes it easier for the search engines to crawl and understand your site.
For WordPress sites, Yoast SEO provides an excellent SEO tool that allows you to optimize much of your schema as well as that vital XML sitemap.
Step #9: Setup Google Search Console and Google Analytics
If you have a different analytics system that you like better, you can use that too. With GA4, we are seeing more customers opt to move away from Google for their traffic analytics.
What is a non-negotiable, is that we need Google Search Console setup on the site. Search console is a vital tool to help you manage your site’s performance in Google. More importantly, it gives you insights on how Google crawls your site, and helps you measure the results of your SEO efforts.
There is a section for submitting your website’s sitemap to Google search console. Once you have it setup, add a link to your sitemap to your search console
The sitemap helps Google crawl your site more quickly, and helps Google identify new pages as you add them.
Step #10: Website Optimization For Your Keywords
While this step does not encompass everything that pertains to SEO, it is a critical first step for helping your site begin to be found in Google.
Every page of your site needs the relevant keywords included in each of these places. You need the keyword on your page, and enough supporting content to explain the common questions that the users would have
That said, don’t stuff keywords. For example, you only want the keyword used once in the heading, once in the title, and once in the body text.
- Title tags
- Heding 1 tags
- Body text
- Meta descriptions
While writing the meta description, take a little extra effort to add your unique selling proposition to it. Give the reader a reason to click your listing instead of a competitors!
Step #11: Set up NAP Citations
In the early days of the internet, everything worked off of directories. It makes sense, because some of the earliest sites were online versions of phonebooks. We’ve tested it, and Google still uses these directory listings to determine where to rank a website.
What is critical is that you go through a legitimate aggregator to disseminate your information. This will keep your business away from poor quality directories.
Most of the backlinks you receive from these directories (or “citations” as the industry calls them) are nofollow, so they don’t provide much of a ranking boost. Where these citations help you is in their listing of your company’s Name, Address and Phone Number. The more you can get these disseminated on the top directories, the more Google can trust that this information is accurate.
Yext continues to be a popular aggregator. We provide aggregator inclusion on all of our campaigns, which usually saves folks quite a bit of money.
Step #12: Get Included in Local Directories
Every community has local websites that you need to be listed on. If there is a local chamber of commerce directory, you need to get your business and website listed there.
Some small cities have a page on their government site which lists local businesses, you will want to be on this local online directory listing.
Donating to local causes such as you children’s sports team often provides a chance for your website to be mentioned. Getting a link from the donor pages can make a big impact on your search rankings.
Links from other websites are important if you want to rank above other auto repair shops. Some of the best links you can get are from other local businesses and organizations in your community.
Don’t forget to also check with any certifying agencies you are a member of inside the auto repair industry. Often there is a directory on these sites with a list of local providers, and you can ask to have your business added to these lists. I also think it is important to be listed on the BBB website.
Step #13: Answer User Questions
Backlinks are a key signal that is needed to help you rank more highly in Google. While there are many different ways that you can build backlinks, one of the most cost-effective is to become engaged in your industry’s Forums, Quora and Subreddits.
Often the questions they ask on these threads provide inspiration for your future blogs. Additionally, by answering them on these platforms, you can then link back to your blog for more information.
By becoming a helpful resource on these sites, you increase the number of backlinks to your site and your domain authority. You aren’t likely to drive more business from strangers on Reddit or Quora, but a 4-5 good queries answered on each site can help.
And if you can find active forums for the make of vehicle you want to work on, these can be especially good for boosting your authority in Google.
Step #14: Create More Content For Your Site
SEO rankings do not come over night. Google’s algorithm is designed to test new local sites and to vet their worthiness before elevating them to a higher ranking. Anyone can build a website, and Google only wants to promote the good ones.
You need to demonstrate that your site is useful and worthwhile for ranking at the top of the search engines.
One of the best ways to do this is by adding a new page of content every month.
This can be a blog post, but it can also be a new page designed to target one of your keywords.
Most of our auto repair shop clients launch a site without about 20 core services on it. However, by adding new services each month, the site continues to grow and bring in new business.
These new pages also help signal to the search engines that your website is being maintained with current information.
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