Search Engine Optimization: What Auto Repair Shops Need to Know About Online Visibility

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Some of your auto repair shop marketing efforts are designed to create buzz and generate leads immediately. Other strategies, like search engine optimization (SEO,) are designed to lay in awareness and shop growth for the long term. And if your marketing plan doesn’t have a dedicated chapter for SEO, you’re going to miss out on valuable online visibility. SEO is mission-critical for reaching your LOCAL market and being top-of-mind for potential customers.

As expert marketing coaches for the automotive industry, we spend a lot of time helping auto repair shop clients develop robust SEO strategies. Today, we’ll be sharing what you need to know about SEO, how it works, and why it’s such a pivotal aspect of your long-term success.

What Is SEO?

Let’s demystify SEO first. When anyone has a question about anything, the initial response is usually to grab a mobile device and do a quick Google search to find the answer. Americans ask Google all kinds of things, including sports scores, local weather, and favorite celebrity news. It’s staggering, really, with Google processing 99,000 search inquiries every SECOND. Yes, you read that right. That averages to roughly 8.5 billion searches every DAY.

 

Google Continues to Dominate the Search Engine Market

Techopedia shared the stats, and Google continues to dominate the search engine market as the leading platform for consumer inquiries.

  • August 2023: Google commands a whopping 91.7% of the global search engine market, outpacing all of its competitors like Bing (3.1%) and Yandex (1.5%).
  • August 2023: Google also enjoys a dominating 95.2% of the mobile search engine market globally, only reinforcing its titan stronghold in the world of the mobile search.

Photo by ThisIsEngineering: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-coding-on-computer-3861958/ -- marketer working

Successful Businesses Prioritize Search Engine Optimization

Given the overwhelming use of Google for finding local resources, businesses are taking an active approach to making sure their brands show up at the top of those high-value search engine results pages (SERPs.) They do so by leveraging SEO strategies for their websites, online content, and digital presence. SEO is about conveying to the Google algorithms that your tire and auto shop is the answer to all those local car repair entries. And there are proven techniques to improve your rank and best practices to follow to ensure that anyone in your neighborhood who searches for auto service, repairs, or maintenance finds you.

 

Where SEO Optimization Works

SEO is primarily a strategy to make your auto repair shop’s website more visible and findable to your local market during search inquiries. But SEO isn’t just a website thing. In fact, SEO optimization can take place across a variety of digital channels and marketing strategies. Creating SEO-optimized content and messaging is important in several formats and throughout most of your digital marketing strategy, including:

  • Social Media SEO: Synching your SEO efforts with your auto repair shop’s social media posts and pages.
  • Email Marketing SEO: Bring those keywords and mobile-friendly efforts to your email marketing campaigns.
  • Content Marketing SEO: Every piece of content you produce and share online, including blogs, articles, newsletters, posts, and messaging, needs to vibe with your SEO strategy.
  • Paid Ads SEO: Don’t invest a dime into any paid digital ads that don’t align with your over-arching SEO optimization plan.
  • Landing Page SEO: Landing pages that you use for lead generation or other customer funnels have to be SEO optimized.

 

Related: What Can Your Auto Repair Shop Learn from a Website Audit?

 

Why It Matters to Auto Repair Shop Marketing

Sure, it’s widely understood that everyone “Googles” everything. But what about YOUR potential customers in YOUR local market? Here’s why your tire and auto shop should care about Google’s online search activity. According to Google:

  • Google searching is the first thing people do when they need auto maintenance information.
  • 65% of people who took their vehicles in for service heard about the shop first through a video online.
  • More than 40% of today’s auto service shoppers online need repairs now versus routine maintenance.
  • Nearly 25% of all automotive-related searches are about parts, service, and maintenance.
  • Most customers (45.5%) make purchasing decisions within the first zero to five seconds of reviewing search results.

An auto repair business like yours has a huge opportunity to show up in those online searches, attracting local customers. With more and more Americans driving their cars longer these days, often exceeding warranty coverages, there are floods of vehicle owners coming into the tire and auto shop. SEO just makes sure they’re coming into yours.

Photo by Gustavo Fring: https://www.pexels.com/photo/stylish-woman-standing-near-open-door-of-modern-car-4173259/ -- career professional commuter

Great SEO Starts with Deep Customer Knowledge

Ok, so you agree that SEO is important. But how do you go about improving your auto repair shop’s digital presence and online findability? It starts with a deep (and we mean deep dive) understanding of your local target customers. Whether you’re targeting blue collar oil change customers, affluent career commuters for maintenance, or local families needing tire changes, your SEO strategy starts with their needs and preferences.

 

Knowing How and What They Search

If you want your ideal customers to find you when they search for repairs and maintenance online, you have to understand what and how they search. For example, most service-related searches involve the terms “near me” or the local city. So, as an auto repair shop, using keywords in your online content like “oil change in Baltimore” or “tire rotation near me” will help them identify local shops. Consider asking your existing customers how they found you and pay attention to the most common reasons first-time customers call you for service. Those insights can inform how you draft resonating messages and content that lists you front-and-center online when others search.

 

Understanding Their Pain Points

Recognize (and be honest) what it is that your ideal customer struggles with or dislikes about auto repair services. Those are the pain points you can look to address with all your marketing and advertising messages. Show that you “understand their concerns” and are the logical choice and unique solution. Here are just a few of the issues and misconceptions today’s auto repair customers take with repair shops:

  • Waiting too long to get their vehicles into the shop.
  • Fear dishonest service results and advice.
  • The speed of service is lengthy or unprioritized.
  • Every auto repair shop offers the same service, and they’re all shady.
  • Women feel marginalized or patronized.

Address these misconceptions and share how your tire and auto shop is different from what your customers expect. Resonating with them will inspire trust and, ultimately, increase your car counts in a big way.

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/silver-ipad-270669/ -- google device

Understanding the Latest Google Search Algorithm Shifts

You might be thinking that the best way to outperform other auto repair shops in the search engine results race is to outwit the algorithms responsible for deciding which brand or website is “more important.” You’ll find some marketers out there who stuff keywords all over their websites and try mass-producing less-than-valuable content, thinking Google will favor them more. But it’s not a viable solution. In fact, Google will take steps to penalize violations or obvious efforts to subvert the system.

CMSWire says the common types of red flags that Google identifies as digital tomfoolery include:

  • Doorways: These are websites or pages created specifically to rank for precise or similar search queries. They tend to lead users to intermediate pages that aren’t as helpful as the final destination page.
  • Scraped content: This is what they call any content taken from other, more reputable sites that don’t provide any additional value to users. Regurgitating similar information (or telling your audience things they already know) isn’t going to be helpful to them or to Google.
  • Cloaking: This involves presenting different pieces of content to users vs. search engines, with the intent of trying to manipulate SERPs and/or misleading users.
  • Spammy auto-generated content: No one likes spam content that is programmatically produced, using AI or without adding any original details. If it’s salesy and feels copied/pasted from somewhere else, or offers sufficient value, it’s not going to rank.
  • Hidden text and links: Content placed on a page designed to manipulate search engines that’s not easily viewable by human users.
  • Keyword stuffing: Yes, keywords are really important in SEO ranking. But too much of a good thing is actually going to backfire. Filling your tire and auto shop webpages with keywords just to manipulate the SERPs is a red flag to Google.

Google’s algorithms are always evolving, making them practically impossible to anticipate. But when there are changes announced, businesses can be flexible to adapt and shift to meet the new guidelines. Chasing outlier solutions to SEO isn’t sustainable, but building a long-term strategy around SEO best practices ensures continued success despite Google’s changes.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay -- seo process

Best Practices for Local SEO in 2024

With a complete understanding of your ideal customers, you can develop an SEO-driven strategy for all of your digital marketing efforts. These are the best practices for successful tire and auto shops RIGHT NOW, based on the latest data and proven metrics for actual results.

 

Create high-quality, informative content that addresses your local audience’s needs.

When we say “content,” we mean actual nuggets of advice and insights that your ideal customers really care about learning. Anything that doesn’t resonate with your core customers is just going to be digital marketing noise that inspires continued scrolling. Be original and use the feedback from your existing auto shop customers to inform how you create content for the masses.

 

Optimize your website for mobile devices.

Optimize your SEO efforts by making your tire and auto shop’s website mobile-friendly. In a HitWise Report, nearly 60% of all internet searches (for any topic) take place on a mobile device; more specifically, 62% of automotive searches happen on a mobile phone or tablet. If your shop’s website isn’t easy to navigate on mobile, you’re losing potential customers. So, make sure your processes for scheduling service or chatting with an advisor are easily facilitated from a phone.

 

Understand user intent and search behavior.

Make sure you create every marketing and advertising campaign through a lens of understanding. Your customers will search based on their intent and routine search behaviors. This is the “why” behind their queries. Identify your shop’s best-selling service or the most common first-time customer requests. Whether it’s tires, oil changes, or check engine lights, lead with your best service-foot forward. If you’re targeting your content toward an audience anticipating their needs, you’ll improve SEO as well as car count results.

 

Address technical SEO issues promptly.

If any aspect of your online presence glitches, doesn’t load, or has issues, you’re sending a message to your audience that you don’t care. Fix those broken links. Monitor page load speeds. And keep a keen eye on the functionality of every form and touch point.

Photo by Jonathan Borba: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-gray-round-speaker-14309809/ -- voice search device

Optimize your content for voice search.

Consider optimizing your content with key phrases people might use to voice search with their devices or voice assistant technology. Siri and Alexa aren’t going to suggest your auto repair shop if you’re not taking active steps to create conversational content, answer FAQs, and use schema markup.

 

Incorporate videos into your SEO strategy.

Video marketing is an absolute must for any business hoping to be found online. Videos embedded throughout your website and blogs will keep online visitors engaged longer. In many cases, visitors will stay on a page twice as long if there is a video. Consider building a library of short car care tip videos or meet-the-team videos you can use throughout your website and digital assets. PS, they’re great for social media, too.

 

Establish author profiles and showcase expertise.

Any content you do publish should present author profiles and links to more in-depth “about us” pages. These profiles put faces to your automotive expertise and will inspire loyalty to those who visit your website regularly. Build EAT (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) with author profiles.

 

Optimize your Google Business Profile for local SEO.

Don’t overlook the importance of optimizing your Google My Business Profile. Start by using your company name, listing your auto shop’s contact information, and drafting a keyword-rich and compelling description. Make sure your GMB images and videos are high-resolution, as well.

 

Related: Auto Repair PPC/Google Ads: How Pay-Per-Click Can Bring Your Next New Customer To Your Shop

 

Auto Shop SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Even if you’re leveraging every SEO best practice, you could still make some mistakes. These are just a few of the more common SEO mistakes we see in the tire and auto repair industry.

  • Not doing keyword research: Don’t post online or use content that isn’t relevant to what your ideal customers are searching for when you hope to be found. It’s a big problem, too. An Ahrefs study found that 90.63% of pages online get NO traffic from Google at all.
  • Not matching search intent: Sure, when a customer searches for “tire and auto shops near me,” you want to show up in the listing. But there are other search intent opportunities to capitalize on, too, including “best truck tires” or “best high mileage oil” that can work to your advantage. Make sure the keywords you use throughout your content match the search intent of your ideal audience.
  • Targeting keywords that are too difficult: There is a keyword balance worth noting. Some keywords are just too popular, making them harder to rank with due to the sheer volume of competition. The sweet spot is focusing on keywords that are longtail (more than two or three words) and geographically specific to your shop’s location. Check your chosen keywords for their keyword difficulty and
  • Not building enough backlinks: Google cares about links in your content. Backlinking to other reputable website pages as well as other pages on your website will make your content more appealing to Google’s ranking profile.
  • Having an extremely slow site: If your auto repair shop website is too slow to load, your visitors will go elsewhere. In fact, 70% of consumers admitted to page speed as a determining factor of whether or not they engage. Google’s not a fan of slow pages with poor web vitals, either.
  • Treating SEO as a one-time thing: Of all the mistakes to avoid, this one may be the most important. SEO optimization requires continuous oversight. There is no one-and-done magic wand answer to mastering SEO because search behaviors change, people’s preferences shift, and the Google algorithms are always updating. Auto repair shops should stick with an ongoing approach to SEO improvement for the long term, applying the best practices and routinely learning about their target customers.

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/seo-audit-white-blocks-on-brown-wooden-surface-267415/ -- seo audit

Hire an Auto Shop Marketing SEO Expert (Hint: That’s Us!)

You don’t have to be an SEO or marketing expert to leverage SEO for your tire and auto shop. But you do have to prioritize SEO with all your online experts, even if it’s just applying a few proven best practices at a time. When you’re ready to really take your SEO and online visibility to the next level, however, bring in someone who’s both an SEO and marketing expert. Partner with our Conceptual Minds marketing coaches who specialize in results for the auto repair shop industry.

Schedule a consultation, and let’s see how we can improve your SEO, your online visibility, and your bottom line in 2024! We’ll help you take the guesswork out of getting results online and put every best practice to work towards increased car counts and scalability.

Learn About Conceptual Minds

As veterans of the automotive industry, the Conceptual Minds team are experts at growing car counts through effective and personable marketing. If you are unsure of your current marketing strategy and would like some guidance, contact our marketing coaches today.

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