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Live from the NORTHEAST: Analyzing Your Auto Body Shop’s Website

During the NORTHEAST Show, my company, Optima Automotive, offered a free web presence analysis to many auto body shop owners who visited our booth. Here are some of the observations we made.

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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.

Optima Automotive VP of Operations Spring McCann and Director of Client Relations Tyler Claypool talk to attendees of NORTHEAST.

We just returned from the 2018 AASP/NJ NORTHEAST Automotive Services Show at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J., where my company, Optima Automotive, exhibited. They had the biggest attendance in the show’s 41-year history, boasting a 20-percent increase in attendance over last year.

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We spoke with hundreds of shop owners and managers during the show, and we thank all who attended and visited with us. A special congratulations goes to AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee, Alicia Figurelli, event coordinator for NORTHEAST, and Jordan Hendler for the lineup of great presenters in the Collision P.R.E.P. educational sessions that often were standing-room only.

During the show, we offered a free web presence analysis. We reviewed the websites, social media accounts and review sites for attendees – something we offer to anyone for free here: www.optimaautomotive.com/free-website-analysis. When we do these analyses, we look at:

  • Overall aesthetics/design of the current site
  • Content
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Ownership of the domain and copyright
  • Social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and a claimed listing with Google
  • Online review management

Our analysis provides our opinions on what is working and what isn’t, and provides the statistics to back up what we have to say. What we saw are things I’ve written about in the past, but it bears repeating since we see these things so often. Seeing them again will help ingrain them in your mind so you can take a serious look at your own web presence.

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Website design: Websites have a three- to five-year shelf life. Anything older than that can look dated, may not meet Google’s mobile-friendly standards and often haven’t been updated since they were launched. Search engines look for new, good-quality content on a website, which shows the business is active, still in business and paying attention. The design itself must be aesthetically pleasing enough to keep someone on your site long enough to do something you want them to do, i.e. pick up the phone to call you, click for directions or follow a “Call to Action” by filling out an online form like “Contact Us,” “Request an Estimate” or “Request an Appointment.” Your website’s first impression will determine how successful it will be.

Website content: Less is more, but enough needs to be there for search engine purposes. People spend less than a minute on most auto body shop websites and view an average of 1.7 pages, slightly more for MSOs. Your content should be fresh and up-to-date, your copyright needs to be current and the content must not have been copied from somewhere else. If it is, you’ll lose website traffic because search engines will penalize your rankings. Check here to see if your content is unique to you: www.copyscape.com. Anything more than 20 percent or so can hurt you.

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Search Engine Optimization: SEO is a science. Web developers are a dime a dozen. But if the site isn’t bringing you cars to fix, you’ve wasted your time and money. True SEO specialists are rare. When we do a review, we look for the basics first, or the SEO 101’s, as we like to call them. We look at the keyword focus of the site: Is it mostly on the words the public uses to find the services a body shop provides, or something else? Those top keywords are, once again, “auto body,” “body shop,” “autobody” and “collision repair.”

Do you own it, or does it own you: Do you own the rights to your domain name and the copyright to your website content and design? Once again, we saw this issue rearing its ugly head during NORTHEAST. A shop owner showed us their site. Their current developer owned their domain name and the content of the website and copyrighted it. Worse yet, the content was duplicated on several other sites, penalizing the ranking potential for all these sites. This developer apparently doesn’t know better or doesn’t care. Shame on them! And if this shop wants to change developers, their existing developer says they have to start from scratch, come up with a new domain name, a totally new website and email. Even the photos on the site, provided by the shop, now belong to the developer. What a nightmare!

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Social media management: Today, most shops have at least created a Facebook page, but we’re amazed at how often they don’t even know how to access it. The posting we see is too often just in-house related or review after review, which means nothing to an audience that only needs a body shop once every seven years. Content should be value-adding to a relationship with your followers and frequent enough – four times a week on Facebook, and at least twice a day on Twitter.

Reputation management: Are you paying attention to what people are saying about you online? Few do. You need to promote reviews and then respond to them. Google reviews are the most important for online visibility. See more information on that here: www.optimaautomotive.com/auto-body-shop-reviews.

The public does look for body shops online, whether it’s on their own or looking up where their insurance company suggests they take their car. How do you stack up?

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