The purpose of having a presence online is to get more cars to fix. Anything else is ancillary to that.
But there are robbers and extortionists, metaphorically speaking, who can hold you back, cost you too much and stand in the way of getting traffic to your website and brand exposure from your social media accounts. In other areas of your life, you take common-sense approaches to protect yourself. You take precautions when you go out at night in a big city. You lock your doors when you leave home, arm your home security system, maybe arm yourself. You don’t give your personal information to strangers who call or email you. Why not take similar measures to protect yourself online? You just need to know what those measures are.
- Poor website optimization. People search for a body shop when they need one. They use the terms “auto body” and “body shop” 10 times more than “collision repair.” If your website isn’t optimized for those terms, and your hometown and surrounding communities you draw work from, you’re getting robbed of opportunities to get traffic to your website. When you get less traffic to your website, you have less chances to convert visitors to customers.
To see what keywords your site focuses on, use this online tool: http://tagcrowd.com/. With this tool, you enter your home page’s written content into the box, click on “Visualize!” and it creates a visual representation (word cloud) of the keyword focus of your website. (Tip: To best copy the content from your home page, have that page on your screen and click “Ctrl A,” which will select all your text. Then click “Ctrl C” to copy it. To paste it into the box on TagCrowd, click “Ctrl V.”) The bigger the words on the generated word cloud, the more they’re used on the site. If these words aren’t “auto body,” “body shop” and the name of your town, you’re likely being robbed of the chance to fix the cars of people who search by those terms.
- Poor website design. If your site has a poor design, it might not be converting visitors into customers. The poor design thief doesn’t have the shop’s address and phone number at the top of the page. It doesn’t have a call to action such as “Request An Estimate” or “Request An Appointment” easily found on the home page. A poor design robs you of opportunities to fix cars.
- Messed up NAP. How does the Internet see your business name, address and phone (NAP) online? Online directories get information about your business in a number of ways. Directories like Yelp, CitySearch, YellowBook, Mapquest and dozens of others publish your business NAP, and oftentimes your information isn’t quite accurate. It should exactly match what’s on your website. Why? Because if it isn’t accurate and consistent, it robs you of online clarity. It confuses other directories and, importantly, search engines. To get the most potential for your website to rank well, you must make sure your online NAP is close to 100-percent correct. To test this, put your information into this online form and it will show you how your business looks on more than 70 of the top directories search engines pay attention to: www.yext.com/partner/optimaworldwide/diagnostic.html.
- Poor branding. If the directories above aren’t featuring your company logo, you’re being robbed of brand recognition. If you don’t have a logo, opportunities have been stolen from you because you don’t have a visual identity. Fix that now. If you aren’t using your logo as your profile image on social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the opportunity to get brand impressions are being stolen from you every day. And if you aren’t posting regularly, the lack-of-recognition thieves thrive.
- Know who owns your rights. Who owns the rights to your domain name, also known as your URL or Web address? It needs to be you because we too often see shops that are held hostage by their Web developer. Just recently, we did an analysis for a dealer body shop. The developer owned the rights to their dealer domain, their body shop domain and the copyright to everything that was on their websites, plus they hosted both the website and email accounts on their server. The developer holds all the power and charges an exorbitant fee every month because they can. If the dealership doesn’t like it, they can start all over again with someone else…just not with their already established domain, email addresses or website content and photos.
- Social media account access. You need to have access to all your social media accounts and should be paying attention. Service providers have been known to hold this access hostage for a fee to release it.
Take steps to defend yourself from these robbers, thieves and extortionists. Learn from the above and take control. Doing so will enable you to get more traffic to your website and convert a higher percentage of that traffic into paying customers. Better branding overall will help you now and in the long-term as well.