“Our new Web presence, social media and pay-per-click campaigns have taken our shop to the next level,” said Liz Lebantino, manager of Butch’s Auto Body & Paint, Inc. in Capitol Heights, Md.
For over 35 years, Butch’s, a mid-size shop, has built a loyal customer base and existed primarily on word-of-mouth referrals. Like many others, as economic conditions changed throughout the mid- to late 2000s, Butch’s needed to do more to maintain and increase its market share. Liz tried local print ads, Yellow Pages and other avenues, but it wasn’t until she got online that things started to take a turn in a positive direction.
Liz recalled how she approached things.
“In late 2007, with the little Internet skills I had, I decided to create and design our company’s website using GoDaddy,” she said. “At that time, it was an easy, affordable way to get my ideas online to market the business. Three years later, we found an Internet marketing company for small businesses in the DMV area to manage our site. However, I came to realize that the website they created for us was not unique to us at all. It was the same exact template they created for other body shops in the area.”
Liz had fallen prey to the cookie-cutter approach to having a website. While this approach may be easy and less expensive, it creates duplicate content across multiple sites, something search engines penalize you for by dropping your ranking potential. To check and see if your site is replicated elsewhere, use this tool: www.copyscape.com.
Luckily for Liz, a loyal BodyShop Business reader, she read about duplicate content in one of my columns.
“Around late 2012, I came across an informative, interesting column written by Mark Claypool and found that a template website was actually hurting our online potential,” said Liz. “It was then when I decided to talk to our shop owner, Eric Kalender. I was a bit apprehensive because he might think it would be an added expense to seek out a professional Web developer who caters to the automotive industry, especially when his business has been operating only by word-of-mouth for about 35 years. But, armed with information from this column and others, I was able to build a strong case for hiring a professional who knows what they’re doing. Eric agreed, and that’s what we did.”
Now, with owner buy-in, Liz hired a firm that specializes in building sites for body shops, and she also made sure this developer understood true search engine optimization (SEO). She recalled the process.
“Prompted by the developer, we provided an overview of our business objectives and goals and answered a series of questions which got the process started. We chose a design and worked closely with the developer to create unique text for our new site. We were given access to a secure test site to view their progress throughout the design and development stages. This gave us the opportunity to express our likes and make changes along the way. They made sure that the final website matched our needs and taste. Then it went live. Before we knew it, our new website was showing up on all major search engines, including landing on the top of the first page.”
Liz hit on a key factor here: hiring a specialist who really understands SEO. Building a website alone isn’t enough; it needs to be optimized so people searching for the services you provide – not for you by name, but for the actual services you offer – will have a chance to actually find you, ideally in the first page of search results.
Initially, was ranking poorly in their hometown, county and Washington D.C. In their hometown, Butch’s was ranking as high as fourth on Google for the most often used search terms. They’re next door neighbors with Washington, D.C., but had zero rankings there. People in that area search by county, so rankings were important with that term, too. And, not shown here, they had zero rankings in any of their surrounding towns in Maryland. Nearly a year and a half later, they’re ranking much better.
With all four of the top search terms the public uses, this shop’s new site now ranks No. 1 in their hometown of Capitol Heights on Google, they’ve seen improvements in their county and Washington, D.C. rankings and are now visible in their surrounding towns as well, including several page one rankings and several No. 1s as well.
Liz and Eric are thrilled: “We’ve noticed a significant increase of business since working on our online Web presence. We’re getting a lot of Web inquiries and phone calls. We track everything with Google Analytics and have seen our Web stats increase dramatically. And since the site is in WordPress, we can make updates to the site ourselves.”
Next month, I’ll share what Butch’s has done with social media and pay-per-click campaigns. The results have been dramatic. Stay tuned!
BSB Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce
development, apprenticeships, marketing and Web presence management with Skills-USA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive, which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.