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Web Presence Management: How Do You Stack Up Online to Your Competitors?

Few businesses in our industry go the extra step to determine how they stack up online with their local competitors. Have you?

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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.

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Any good business knows their marketplace well. They love to compete, make the sale and make the cash register ring. And many relish in the fact that they got that sale instead of their competitor. They know the total potential sales that are available and their market share of that potential.

Many of the paint companies can assist you in doing a market analysis that will provide you with tremendous data to help gauge exactly where you stand in terms of sales and market share. But few businesses in our industry go the extra step to determine how they stack up online with their local competitors. Have you? If not, let me share how we do a competitor analysis for our clients, which will give you tips on how you can do one, too.

Corporate Espionage

My friend Mike Anderson from Collision Advice preaches the importance of doing what he calls “corporate espionage.” Anderson recommends examining every aspect of your competitors’ position in your marketplace, including how they appear online. So, we have created a checklist we use to do a thorough analysis that we charge $495 for at Optima Automotive. Here’s what we use:

Competitor Web Presence Analysis

  • List your top five competitors in your market territory. Look them up by name online and make note of their web addresses. We’ll use these later in our analysis.
  • Do what is known as an incognito search on your PC. Incognito means a private search that doesn’t compare your search with past history and doesn’t use your current location to filter results. This is important so you don’t get skewed listings. There are as many different ways to do an incognito search as there are browsers. Here’s a link to the various ways you can do this from whatever browser or device you use: http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001378.htm.

Once you have set things up to search “incognito,” enter the following: “auto body [YOUR TOWN].” See what shows up. You may get sponsored listings at the top and sides. Those are companies that have purchased the keywords you just entered in your search. If you click on any of those, you just cost your competitor a couple bucks or so, but you wouldn’t do that, would you? Next, you’ll see what’s known as the local or three-pack that coincides with a map. Are you showing up there? Hopefully you’re one of them. Who else is there? One of your biggest competitors? Below that starts your “organic” search results. Who’s showing up? You? Your competitors? Yelp? Facebook? Who else? Make notes on all of this. Go beyond page one if you like, but remember…few searchers will. Then, do the same exact incognito searches for the other three top terms: “body shop [YOUR TOWN],” “autobody [YOUR TOWN]” and “collision repair [YOUR TOWN].”

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  • Now, let’s enter the web addresses of your competitors. How do their sites look? Are they modern, well-designed, professional? How effective are they designed? Would it instill confidence in the public’s mind that this should be a good place to have their vehicle repaired? Is their contact information at the top? Do they have effective calls to action like “Request an Estimate,” “Request an Appointment,” “Contact Us,” “Ask Us A Question” and “Get Directions”?
  •  What keywords are their websites focusing on? They should be focusing on “auto body,” “body shop,” “autobody” and “collision repair” and their city. Those are the top terms the public uses. To determine what the focus is, go to their home page, hit “ctrl a,” then “ctrl c.” This selects and copies all the written content from the home page. Then go to http://www.jasondavies.com/wordcloud/. Hit “ctrl c” to paste the content into the open field and click “Go.” The bigger the words are, the more emphasis is being paid to those keywords. This is a great way for us humans to visually see what search engines see.
  • Do your competitors have mobile versions of their sites? Check it out on your phone. If you have to enlarge the screen to see it, they aren’t “mobile friendly.” That hurts their user experience and their ranking potential. That’s a shame, isn’t it? You can also paste their website address here to test it: http://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly
  • Have your competitors verified their Google listing and set up Facebook and Twitter accounts? Are they set up correctly? Are there links to their social media accounts on their website? Are they participating effectively and regularly? What’s working for them and what isn’t?
  • Are your competitors getting consumer reviews? Where? Google is most important. Are these reviews positive or negative? Are they responding to reviews?
  • Are your competitors consistent online with their branding in all their efforts?

The checklist I’ve shared with you might signal some updates you need to make on your website, social media accounts and review sites. Check out where you are today.

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