How Your Online Relevance Affects Your Auto Shop’s Revenue

Traditional advertising and word-of-mouth referrals remain effective forms of marketing for auto repair shops. However, digital visibility and a strong online presence are quickly gaining traction as keys to success in today’s fast-paced world.

Regardless of your shop’s location, business model, or specialty, there’s an opportunity for auto shop owners to position themselves better in front of their core customers, says Todd Richardson, CEO of In Motion Brands (IMB), which specializes in helping the automotive aftermarket industry build better brands. 

In a recent webinar hosted by AutoLeap, Richardson gives tips on monitoring your auto shop’s digital visibility and online relevance, and tools that businesses can implement to measure ROI. Richardson, a sales and marketing consultant with more than 20 years of experience, says IMB examines an auto shop’s online presence to create a digital relevance report, giving business owners an idea of how visible and relevant they are to customers searching online for auto repair services.

“We’re looking at three key areas,” Richardson says. “Site, Search, and Social.”

How fast is your auto shop’s website?

When evaluating a business website, the first thing to consider is its speed. A website that loads fast ensures that your customers find what they’re looking for and don’t leave the site due to it being slow. Additionally, search engines crawl your website and decide how relevant your content is for customers searching for local auto repairs. If your website is slow, you won’t rank on the first page of Google.

“Speed is critical for search engines, and so it should be critical for you, and Google will tell you,” Richardson says.

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Richardson suggests logging in to the site to see how your website performs. The results can tell you if your website’s speed is good (displayed in green), if you need to make a few changes (displayed in yellow), or if your site needs a total overhaul (displayed in red).

It’s common for Richardson to find a lot of red results on the initial speed tests he conducts on client sites. He also notes how digital strategy challenges affect both single-location auto shops and large enterprise clients.

Once you run Google page speed reports, look for areas of improvement. Some of these are optimizing large photo files or reducing the number of plug-ins.

Develop a sound content strategy

Ever heard the common saying, “Content is King? Whether king or queen, content certainly accounts for about half the battle when creating an effective and searchable website.

“It’s not just your website. It’s business listings, it’s social media, it’s content that we need to get better at as an industry,” Richardson says. Here are some things to consider when creating content.

1. Flesh out your content

Your business might offer an extensive list of repair services, but you won’t likely show up on the first page of online search results if you display the services on your website as only a list of words.

“Unless we’re the only game in town, we’re not being found by customers who don’t know our business,” Richardson says. “We need to build out content around each of these services if they’re important to our business.”

By only offering a short description of what customers can expect, you create what Richardson calls “thin content.” While this type of content is better than nothing, it’s not going to help you rank as an authority in the space or show up on page-one search results for customers looking for “auto repair near me.” Here are a few tips from Richardson:

  • Add value for readers: In order to achieve a top-ranking search result, Richardson suggests a site needs helpful content of at least 650 words, related keywords, images, and a site structure that signals search engines to direct users to land on your page.


  • Do on-page optimization: Internal links to relevant service pages can also add credibility to your content strategy, encouraging customers to learn more about your auto shop online. “If I mentioned maintenance services or schedules, I may link that to a preventative maintenance page,” Richardson explains, but warns shops against using unlinked images as content. “It’s pretty and it loads fast, but you click here and nothing happens.”


  • Use links directing away from your site wisely: The same can be said for linking dealer logos straight to the dealer site. For example, advertising that your auto shop sells Michelin tires is great, but a customer who clicks a Michelin logo and ends up on the brand’s website may not find their way back to your business. “Michelin’s got a dealer locator on their site, as does everybody else, so you can lose them,” he says.


  • Build trust: Your auto repair shop needs to have a good reputation. If the Better Business Bureau (BBB) links to your website, it’ll build up your business’s domain authority—a score that you want to increase to be considered credible. A higher domain authority results in a better ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

2. Figure out how you want to create content

There are two approaches you can take while creating content:

  • Do it yourself: Creating good content is necessary for high-ranking search results, but it’s also time-consuming and labor-intensive. Richardson recommends researching your market before doing it yourself. For example, consumers in Boston use the term “snow tires” 10 times more than “winter tires” when searching online. Shops can build websites using specific content and keywords to capture the “snow tire” market, leveraging analytics and digital strategies to capture more sales.

  • Hire a professional: Another way to create web content is to hire someone else to do it, but Richardson warns against using overseas companies or content-generating software, as these generally take longer and often need substantial rewrites.

Regardless of which route you take, it’s important to cover a range of keywords that describe your business. A weak digital strategy would cause your shop to appear only when someone searches its name and not the services offered.

3. Focus on creating a good user experience

Once customers find your website online, make sure it’s not too difficult for them to shop. Richardson recommends the following:

  • Include clear pricing for each service instead of using a button that redirects users to a form that collects their information.

  • Use high-quality images and descriptions for your products and services, and add simple buttons for easy printing, sharing, and scheduling.
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Engage with customers through social media

When it comes to social media, Richardson believes the most effective content strategy comes directly from the business. Photos of new hires, anniversaries, and office parties help customers connect with your business on an emotional level, and photos featuring real-life happy customers can inspire confidence in your business.

“No marketing company can make that personal connection,” he says.

Customer engagement plays a big role in any digital strategy, and social media marketing allows businesses to post helpful and relevant content, which encourages daily interaction with potential customers and helps to build the brand.

Establish your shop online with Google My Business

Richardson suggests using your Google My Business page to gain insights on how customers find and interact with your auto shop.

Google My Business is free to use and helps customers find shops based on the searcher’s location. Shop owners can use this tool to manage their business information, including contact info and hours of operation, a map to the business, photos of products or services, and customer reviews.

Richardson explains, “It’ll increase your chances of the consumer engaging with the website, clicking directions, or calling, by sending those signals on an ongoing basis to Google.”

Auto shop software allows you to increase positive online Google Reviews, leading to a better online presence for your business.

Harness data

The key to running a successful auto repair shop is using data to target customers. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Identify the right services: There are certain jobs that customers will have to get done routinely. A customer may only get their engine swapped once. However, services like oil changes and tire replacements are frequent, so you can get the same customer in your shop multiple times.

  • Look for trends in vehicle models: The other way to go about getting the right data is looking at the average repair order size for certain vehicles. There will be certain makes and models that have more defects and need frequent major repairs. You can tailor your digital strategy to target those car owners since they’ll bring in the money to increase your average repair order size.

Closing thoughts

Richardson says that whether you operate a single auto shop in one location or run a large enterprise with multiple locations, the digital strategy is the same. Your strategy must include site speed optimization, search engine ranking reports, and customized social media content to increase your shop’s online visibility and customer relevancy.

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