They didn't hire overpriced auto-repair-marketing gurus.
Meet Larry Wernett. Larry owns an auto repair shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, named – you guessed it – Larry's Auto Service Center. He reached out to us because the website he had at the time wasn't delivering the return he had been promised.
He was getting a raw deal
There's an understatement. His domain name was over 10 years old, but still did not have any ranking authority whatsoever for the local keyword "auto repair bethlehem pa". (I mean nil! I think I reached page 15 before I finally gave up looking).
This "website" was built by a large company that markets their services directly to auto repair shops. The website itself was part of a larger "marketing" package, for which Larry was paying a hefty monthly subscription, and was locked into a contract. The site was not built in compliance with modern web standards, nor was it mobile friendly.
Regrettably, this is an all too familiar narrative.
Here's what we did
With our assistance, Larry has implemented exactly two Local SEO tactics:
- Basic web-dev
- NAP Citations
As it turns out, optimizing your website for search engines is pretty complicated. This is mostly because of the guarded and secretive nature in which the engines protect their proprietary ranking algorithms.
One thing about ranking that is pretty straightforward, however, is the way the engines test the technology you used to build your site:
- Is your site mobile friendly?
- Does your site have a fast load time?
- Is your site being distributed over a secure connection?
- Is your site standards compliant and accessible?
- Is your content structured in a logical, organized, and semantic manner which makes accurate usage of HTML?
- Does your site contain Microdata / Structured Data?
I know, there's a lot to chew on there. For now, I'll touch briefly on Microdata.
Also known as Structured Data, Microdata is a data language designed to standardize the way web developers present information for consumption by the search engines. The Microdata standard has been published to schema.org, and is actively maintained by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex (the Russian search giant).
Interestingly, there is a schema category exclusively for Auto-Repair Shops. The information about your shop that you can encode into Microdata is actually quite thorough:
- Business name
- Business hours
- Business logo
- Photograph of your shop
- Links to social profiles
- Customer reviews
- Information about the owner (their name, picture, social profiles, etc.)
A NAP Citation is SEO lingo for a citation on the web which includes the name, address, and phone-number of your business.
Not only is it vital to get as many NAP citations as you can, it is equally vital to make sure that wherever these citations appear, they adhere to a strict standard. If you use abbreviations (e.g. PA instead of Pennsylvania), use them in all the places. If you use the long 9 digit zip code instead of the short 5, use it in all the places. And so on.
The first place to begin managing your NAP citations, is at the major online business directories. Larry has kept track of all the directories on the web which have listings for his business. For those that didn't have a listing, he made one.
Here's a shortlist of the most important directories:
- Google My-Business
- Bing Places
- Yext / Yahoo
- Facebook Pages
- Car Talk Mechanics Files
- YP (Yellow Pages)
- Super Pages
- City Search
- Angies List
Some would argue that as concerns Local SEO, the role of online business directories is diminishing. Maybe so. Regardless, none would be so bold as to tell you to outright neglect the advice to stay on top of your NAP citations.
Here is a screenshot of the current (as of 20-MAR-2016) Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for auto repair bethlehem pa. Behold it in all its glory:
Beautiful! From zero to #7 in 6 months.
Obviously, results will vary
To be clear, we are in no way suggesting that this exact formula can be applied with equal effect in every instance. There are many variables to consider which lay outside the scope of this article, but
The point here is that achieving success on the web does not necessarily require a huge investment of time and resources: Doing the basic things the right way will produce results.
An update on the status of Larry's website has become necessary: As of today, June 1, he is no longer on page 1. His website currently ranks first on page 2.
The reason for the downgrade is due to the fact that Larry does not regularly publish new content to his site, which has remained virtually unchanged for the better part of a year.
All things being equal, sites that consistently publish new content – even if it is just a "coupons" page – will always beat sites that never change.
Tell us what you think
Please sound off in the com-box with any feedback — we're all ears.
To success — yours, and ours!