If you’re the owner of a local auto repair shop this complete step-by-step guide is something that you will not want to overlook. After 4 years of hard-won wisdom, in-depth research, and money-saving tactics our SEO agency has solved the puzzle on how to grow your auto repair shop on a shoestring budget.
How Search Engine Marketing Can Put You In Front Of New Customers.
I want to warn you that this article is going to be very lengthy and comprehensive and go into great detail about every foreseeable issue and success of how we get auto repair businesses from the last place in Google Search results to the first page. I promise you it is the kind of information that will make or break your business in years to come. I say this because the old ways or what you think you know is changing rapidly. New customers are changing their habits and behaviors when selecting a local auto repair shop to do business with.
Your customer acquisition strategy has to be effective and calculated. It’s not enough to just rely on referrals and pile up good Yelp ads. Timing in life is everything you need to be in front of the customer as soon as they need a repair, the instinct of a potential customer is that when they crack their windshield or have just got into an automobile accident is to go with the first business that they see on Google.
The first page of Google is powerful and something that you shouldn’t underestimate the intent of someone searching on Google leads to the likelihood of an immediate sale. According to current search data the phrase ” Body Shop Near Me ” is googled over 2 million times each month on a national level. There are 19495 cities, towns, and villages in the US and we estimate your shop can have an average of 102.5 opportunities to fill the needs of these customers with auto repair services each month. If your business is not focusing on getting your website SEO optimized to be visible in search results you’re leaving thousands of dollars in lost revenue on the table each year.
What Is Search Engine Optimization? SEO and How Does It Work For Auto Repair Companies.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website on organic search engine result pages, especially Google Search results. Google is a well-oiled machine that has to decide on which auto repair shops to place at the top in the search results. There are over 160 ranking factors the Google algorithms use to determine what auto repair website should be matched to the person searching. Google released a very detailed yet vague set of webmaster development guidelines to follow to ensure that your website is indexable and Google-friendly.
The main requirements are that your site has to be mobile-friendly but it also has to be fast and easy for the Google bot to index (scan) it. The optimization process can be daunting you will need to research the exact keywords that will yield your shop the most volume and build the content on your website to resonate with your customers and be recognized but google crawler bots.
Chasing all these ranking factors and over-optimizing can lead you down a rabbit hole and cost you business time and money. As the owner of the auto repair shop, you need to perform tasks every day such as building rapport with customers, ordering parts, training staff, delegating, and daily operations. In my opinion, it would be counterproductive for any owner to be on the computer all day long tweaking website code or what you think is content gold.
You need to outsource to a reputable company that specializes in local SEO, let us do the work for you, so you can just set it and forget it. We will build your site with words that people are searching for, not just random keywords that Google does not recognize as relevant to your business. Once your website is built the right way you will notice a dramatic increase of new clientele all stemming from Google.
Knowing The Numbers For Your Auto Repair Shop
This all sounds great but you will need to calculate some basic figures before you get started. You’d be surprised that many auto repair shops that we worked with are unaware of their numbers. Understanding how much a new customer is worth to your business is the starting point of your SEO efforts. The average auto repair shop owner underestimates the lifetime value of a new customer. Most do not even know how much they spend on individual customers every year. In the grand scheme of things, a great website is going to make you lose money in the short run but it will increase your profits over time by bringing you more customers and increasing your brand recognition. Here are some of the basic metrics we use to measure our Key Performance Indicators.
AOV – Average Order Value
You will want to know right away how much you are getting per client every time they make a new service appointment. A good rule of thumb is to calculate the net profit that each customer brings to your business and divide it by the annual amount of transactions.
By dividing your annual sales by the number of repairs, you can quickly gauge your dollar average repair.
In 2020 ABC Collision had sales of $1,527,871 before taxes and had posted 720 repairs, their AOV is $2122.04
LTV – Lifetime Value Of Customer
The viewpoint of the lifetime value of a new customer is important. In the auto repair industry, it is advantageous to retain customers because it’s a lot cheaper than deploying marketing dollars to constantly be acquiring new ones.
For auto body repair shops a typical driver has some sort of vehicle damage every 3-5 years. You can factor that the safest drivers will encounter parking lot scrapes and small dents from time to time. Although these damages for small digs and scratches can be a losing proposition the customer will develop a repetitive habit and it will be ingrained in their mind to seek your services when asked by their insurance company about the shop they wish to have their vehicle repaired at.
The longer you can retain your customers the more money they will spend in your shop. If you can keep a customer for 15 years, they are going to have many interactions with your repair shop. Many shops are not keeping their customers for an extended period and not properly valuing the perceived value a new relationship brings. Your business may be new and it will be difficult to forecast this figure but it is a metric that you shouldn’t sleep on and you should consider LTV when spending money on any form of marketing.
ROAS – Return On Ad Spend %
Of course, we don’t want to stop here. We need to know what you are potentially getting for every dollar spent on digital marketing. Ask yourself this question is efficient and cost-effective. When I talk about this term with car repair shop owners, they don’t like hearing it, but I promise it will make your life easier if you keep this in mind.
ABC collision spends $150 on a professionally written article for their shop and it makes it to the top of the Google Search results. This article is read online over 1000 times per month, it answers an important question and establishes authority in the automotive industry. As a direct result of the article using Google Analytics tracking, we can accurately measure that it brings 10 new customers to the shop each year and a net profit of $12000. This is a favorable outcome and the math can be broken down like this.
$12000 profit / $150 SEO Article Cost = 800% ROAS
in comparison to the previous example with the 3.5 customers and Google Adwords Campaign.
3.5 customers net profit $3900 / $864 Google Ad Spend = 4.51% ROAS
A good ROAS benchmark for Auto Repair Services is a 4:1 ratio so if your business can generate at least 4 dollars in net revenue to every dollar spent your business can survive and have the ability to scale. Understanding this KPI will help you make informed decisions on digital marketing campaigns.
It’s no secret that SEO provides the best ROAS but it has its limitations.
Patching The Leaks In Your Auto Repair Business
Before starting to do SEO for your website you need to prepare your business and anticipate a surge of new clients. While you are running your business day-to-day, you can begin to think about how to improve its efficiency. It’s not worth it to damage your reputation if your business can’t handle the new traffic.
Customer service in auto repair shops is something that customers tend to complain about in online reviews. Most repair shops in the US don’t have receptionists that check work orders and troubleshoot with customers over the phone. The auto repair shop can be a busy environment and calls and emails can be missed, new visitors can come to your website fill out a form or call the business directly if there is not a swift response your SEO efforts will be wasted.
Finding The Pain Points For Your Auto Repair Shop
It’s important to recognize all the holes in your armor before going into battle. The first thing I do when working with auto repair facilities is to audit their existing reviews on Google and Yelp. I’m not looking for good reviews at first but want to review all the negative reviews and formulate a way to address them on the website. I also study 19 of the closest competitors in the local area to understand what I am up against and analyze their pain points as well.
Some of the most common complaints that I encounter is to do with timing and lack of communication. Provide a way for your customers to get in touch via phone, email, or online chat Do not promise anything you can’t deliver – Be honest about the time it takes to complete repairs and be upfront about your capabilities. There is no harm in under-promising and over-delivering.
Addressing The Flaws
Your website acts as your garages spokesperson and the face of your business. The customer tends to go to a competitor’s website before visiting your website and will begin their research there.
The better you communicate with your customers the more likely they will trust you and return for future services. It’s important to alleviate any possible concerns they have through your FAQ section on your website. You should make a detailed list of the most commonly asked questions and complaints and explain them in detail. If it’s an important question or concern, create videos of your team explaining the process of working with your business. A clear communication path can make or break your business.
Keep in mind that SEO is not an isolated channel of marketing, it works along with great customer service and the way that your business conveys information so that website visitors can come to their conclusions and make important purchasing decisions.
Finding The Right Keywords For Your Auto Repair Business
When getting ready to launch your brand new website or update your existing website selecting the right keywords is paramount. This step will help you put a foundation for your SEO success. The main thing to remember is that keywords are things that people search for on Google so you want to be specific and narrow your search words as much as possible.
When I talk about keywords I’m not talking about phrases such as “car repair” or “repair auto” you want to select words that will be searched by people looking specifically for auto services in your jurisdiction. You may want to rank immediately for “Body Shop Near Me” but you have to be realistic with your approach. Many other competitors already have the first page positions and they will fight until the end to maintain their ranking positions. We advise newer website owners to aim for the low-hanging fruit first the keywords with low difficulty and lower volumes. Although this is not ideal it serves an important purpose because it allows Google to periodically monitor your website for these keywords and eventually trust your website, allowing it to rank higher in the SERPs.
In this way, you can use your learning from these keywords to determine which ones you need to pursue full force. Make sure to have your website professionally many web developers do not go into the extent of researching the best keywords for your website. A variety of focused keywords need to be embedded in every section of your website without overstuffing them so they look out of place to your customers. I go to the extent of embedding keywords from everywhere into the image filenames when uploaded, meta descriptions, headings, structured data code, and alt tags. Our motto at Spectral Vision is laziness is no exception. Our websites that we build need every statistical advantage to win the top-ranking positions even if they are big or small.
How You Can Find Your Keywords For Free
You don’t need any fancy paid accounts like SemRush or Ahrefs to do keyword research. You can simply sign up for Google AdWords, make sure after you create the account to pause the campaign and you can use the keyword planner tool for free. The Keyword Planner tool is a convenient tool for this purpose. Once you have entered your target keyword words you will get a glimpse of the difficulty scores and the costs that other auto repair shops are spending to be showcased on the first page.
Your Auto Repair Website MUST Have These Elements On The Home Page
When we take on new Auto Repair websites to rebuild I am astonished at the lack of the basic elements needed. Your website needs the phone number visible in the footer so customers can call you directly. It also needs a contact form for people to contact you. If you are trying to rank with auto repair keywords customers must know your business hours, your location, and information about any services that you provide. I know for sure that I get 100% more calls from clients when people can get directions to the shop directly or find the hours of operation.
You will also want to have a professional email that links to all your lead generation forms. Many repair shop owners leave their personal Gmail address or a free one they created from the business, it’s the smaller details that count, spend the extra $5 per month and create a professional email for your garage.
This will serve a useful purpose and display credibility when your customer interacts with the business.
Here’s a Quick Checklist You Can Reference These Should All Be On The Front Page
Address ( Google Map )
Phone Number ( Click To Dial Link)
Hours Of Operation (Footer)
Lead Generation Form ( Collect Email Addresses & Shop Inquiries )
Company Email Address ( Footer)
Fast & Reliable Website Hosting
Selecting a fast server to host your website is an important factor when trying to build up your business. Your website is the most important thing that you will ever invest in. It will be the gateway to your business and if it is not hosted on a fast server it’s going to make communicating with your customers both slower and more expensive in the long run. The average website we come across is hosted on Godaddy $20 a month hosting plan, I may get some backlash for this but the servers on Godaddy are garbage they are shared with hundreds of other random websites and it has been a controversial topic in the SEO world that if you share a server with a pool of low-quality websites like (porn & gambling) they will limit your websites potential.
We have tested every server to be best used with auto repair websites from BlueHost, Host Gator, Name Cheap, and SiteGround. We found the very best host to be AWS (Amazon Web Services). AWS offers hosting services faster than any other provider that I have seen. Our clients receive the loading times on mobile are extremely fast and you can use your dedicated server that is untainted. It is the only option that we recommend for auto repair websites. We offer end to end services to help you set up an AWS cloud server for your business. AWS is the gold standard of web hosting and it can cost you as low as $35 per month.
Is SEO Worth The Wait
Now that you have a pretty good understanding of how SEO works, can you see why it is so hard to rank for keywords that are searched hundreds of times a day? There are so many factors that go into ranking number one on Google for any keyword let alone keywords that have a high volume of searches. The good news is that you can get your website up to page one without spending a fortune on Google Adwords. To be 100% transparent you’re not going to get dozens of customers flocking into your shop the first week you launch your SEO optimized website, from my experience it will take around 3 – 6 months to see the ROI. Your traffic can spike randomly too and you may get lucky. We have had clients who saw a minimal impact in the first few months and complained then after 7 months their business started to soar. There are no shortcuts to building a successful auto repair website and SEO is one of the most effective methods on the market with the highest ROI.
The cost of SEO depends on how much time you want to put into your business. Low budget offshore SEO companies will promise that they can get you on page one overnight and deliver a great return on investment and leave you hanging with a bunch of dissatisfied customers, while the high budget SEO companies will charge thousands of dollars for guaranteed rankings and fail to deliver on their promise.