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Do People Actually Search By OEM Certification?

Shocker: If you’re certified or part of any OEM network, no one is searching for shops that are certified on Google. That said, you should still be promoting your certifications on your website.

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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 SkillsUSA, the I-CAR Education Foundation, Mentors at Work, VeriFacts Automotive and the NABC. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, SEO services and social media management services.

I’m going to burst a few bubbles here, maybe some of your bubbles! 

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I recently burst many peoples’ bubbles and got a lot of pushback. As a result, I dug even deeper and got additional evidence to back up what I had revealed. Don’t get discouraged, because even though what I’m going to tell you might come across as bad news, all is not lost. Nothing has really changed, other than expectations. 

So, here it is: If you’re certified or recognized or a part of any OEM network, no one is searching for shops that are certified, recognized or part of any OEM network. By “no one,” I mean a tiny fraction in a nation of 327 million people. While there is no way to tell the exact number of searches that are made for any given keyword or keyword phrase, there are ways to estimate them, within a small margin of error. And, there is a way to do a comparison between different terms on Google that will report back something like, “For every X times this term is searched, people search Y times for a different term,” giving you a ratio.

Before I share these numbers with you, let me say that you should still be promoting your certifications/recognitions on your website, not only because it is required by most OEMs but also because it will help you get cars to fix. Let’s say people find you in the actual ways they search, i.e. by your name (branded) or by top keywords such as “auto body,” “body shop,” “autobody” or “collision repair.” If you’re certified/recognized for the make they own and you have prominently promoted it on your website, that could well be their deciding factor to choose you to repair their vehicle. You should also be promoting your certification on social media to raise awareness. In fact, that’s a must. Being certified isn’t like a DRP; you have to do whatever you can possibly do to promote it and raise awareness.

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Here are the numbers, in no particular order. These are estimates from a search tool we’ve come to rely on, and the margin of error is quite small:

Forgive me if I have not included your make in the chart above. It doesn’t really matter, though, you get the idea. I’ve tried other terms and other ways to search and the results are the same. To validate this, I searched all of those on Google and got a ratio of 94 to <1 for “auto body” to virtually every possible OEM term I could think of. Here’s just one example (below) using Toyota, Honda, Acura and “Ford approved body shop” (at the request of a shop in the Ford certified collision network). It’s the same no matter what I search.

One of our clients in the Atlanta area who has multiple locations gets thousands of searches by their name each month, a testament to all the location branding on social media we’ve done for them over the years. “Body shop Atlanta” gets 590 searches per month in just one city, more than the entire nation gets for any OEM search term.

The conclusion is that this is about brand and keywords. But not just any keywords, the right keywords. Promote your certifications/recognitions for sure, but don’t expect people to search using any of those terms.

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