When you hire a developer to create a website for your business, you assume that they know what they’re doing. Or you create your own and don’t know what you don’t know. Either way, making the wrong choice has consequences. These consequences include poor search rankings (i.e. lost business opportunities) and an ineffective site design (i.e. lost business opportunities). Such is the case with Quality Auto Paint & Body’s website
Quality Auto Paint & Body's outdated homepage.
Quality Auto Paint & Body is a small, family-owned shop in Roanoke, Va., which has a population of nearly 100,000. It’s owned by Richard Henegar, Sr., has been in business for more than 25 years and has gross annual sales of $1.2 million. Their website address is www.qualityautopaintandbody.com
As you can see from the photo above, this site has a bit of a retro look to it. A modified ’69 Camaro serves as Quality’s logo, and retro radio knobs adorn the navigation bar. It makes a decent first impression, but a few things that make or break a site are missing.
Nowhere on this homepage can you find their address. And while the phone number is incorporated into the logo, it doesn’t include an area code, which is required for most cell phones and many local home and business lines.
The address and phone number should be incorporated into the upper left side of this design to maximize visibility. Make it easy for people to find you or your phone number by reducing the number of clicks you have to make to get the information.
On a positive note, Quality has a link to their Facebook page prominently displayed in the upper left side of the site. Social media is the wild frontier of marketing, and Facebook reaches more than 800 million people all reasons you should give serious thought to how to effectively play in this arena. Social media isn’t a fad and isn’t going away; it’s only getting bigger, especially with the launch of the new Google+. Richard Henegar, Jr., 26, shop manager/estimator, manages their Facebook account and regularly posts to it, which is critical to social media success.
An important factor in any shop’s website is their keyword usage. Why are keywords so important? Because search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing can only see text, which they use to determine who you are, what you do and where you do it.
This word cloud illustrates the words used most frequently on Quality's website.
I use a tool called a “word cloud” (see right) to graphically show what words appear the most on a website. The more a word is repeated on a website, the bigger it will appear on this word cloud.
Search engines will use these keywords to try to figure out what the website is all about. They then try to match people’s search queries to websites they’ve identified.
The keywords our industry should focus on are “auto body,” “autobody,” “body shop” and “collision repair” followed by the town the searcher is located in. The term “auto body” is searched seven times more than “collision repair,” so you want to have your site optimized accordingly.
As you can see in the word cloud, Quality’s website focuses primarily on the terms “insurance,” “auto,” “body,” “repair,” “quality,” “paint” and “inc.” What’s missing is the town, or towns, this shop serves. “Roanoke” does show up in relatively small text in the upper right of the word cloud, but that’s not enough.
Another thing I do when I evaluate a website is check to see if any of the content has been copied or duplicated on other websites. Search engines frown upon that, and website rankings suffer as a result. I found that between 25 to 63 percent of Quality’s website homepage content was copied by other websites. That needs to be addressed by this shop as soon as possible. To see if your website is duplicated anywhere, paste your website URL (address) into the box provided on the following link: www.copyscape.com.
As a result of the above factors, Quality’s site rankings aren’t very good. Less than 1 percent of web surfers venture beyond page one in a search, and there are usually 10 results on the first page. So it’s crucial to try to rank in the top 10 organic results, or non-sponsored, non-geographic listings.
When faced with the reality that his website was grossly underperforming, Richard Henegar, Jr. decided to have it redesigned and fully optimized for search purposes. In a future issue of BodyShop Business, we’ll share what was done to the site and how the optimization has impacted its search rankings.
If you would like to ask us a question or have your website and social media efforts considered for analysis and possible inclusion in this column, submit them to email@example.com
BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce training, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships, training and web presence management. He’s the owner of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), a provider of website design, development, search engine optimization (SEO) services and social media management services. He also serves as the regional sales manager for Metro Paint Supplies in Chicago. His work history includes vice president of VeriFacts Automotive, founder of Mentors At Work (now a division of VeriFacts), executive director of the I-CAR Education Foundation and the National Auto Body Council (NABC), co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation and national director of development for SkillsUSA. He continues to serve, on a volunteer basis, as the Skills- USA World team leader for the WorldSkills Championships. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.