Don’t Panic. Stay the Course: SEO Advice in These Strange Times

Insight From Our SEO Experts

There’s been much discussion between my teammates, our clients, and I about what SEO should be doing to combat the effects of coronavirus. The answer is more straightforward than you may think- stay the course. Search Engine Optimization in the hyper-local and highly-competitive automotive repair vertical is not about quick gains or overnight success; it’s a long-term strategy that requires patience, persistence, and some creative thinking to see it through. That means identifying what keywords/services you want to be found for and crafting a marketing strategy around those- even in these strange times.

Stick To Your Niche

For an automotive repair business, this is not the time to stray from your craft. What I mean by that is- don’t begin to add new pages or an abundance of information about COVID-19 and expect them to rank well on Google in an effort to increase website traffic. Google works to algorithmically produce search results that align with a concept known as “E-A-T” (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness). Mind you, “E-A-T” is not part of Google’s algorithm and they’re not ranking factors, but conceptually it makes sense that Google is only going to display results that are highly relevant. Because you’re not a expert in virology and your automotive repair website has no authority for health and wellness, it’s highly unlikely that Google’s search algorithm will include you in search results about the pandemic. Instead, Google works to include sources with the highest “E-A-T” for this subject (eg CDC, WHO, NIH, news outlets, etc).

Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let prospective clients know about the precautions you’re taking to protect them against the spread of this virus. Don’t let communication to your clients drop- invest time in posting to your social platforms, Google My Business posts, your blog, and elsewhere to make your clients aware that you’re taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus and following best practices outlined by the experts. But no matter what- you’re only going to be found on Google for the keywords that you have an authority for. That means continuing to pursue the phrases you identified as highly valued; the kinds of phrases people are going to search for in order to find your place of business. Once they find you for a service-based phrase, they’ll engage with your brand and – if you’ve done it right – it will be clear that you’re taking the steps necessary to keep them safe while also offering expert automotive repairs.

Double Down if You Can

If you’re already marketing your business online, you have a huge advantage over those who are not, and when you’re running a successful campaign, you have an advantage over everyone else. This not only puts you in the best position to rank well for your target key phrases today, but it will put you in an even better position tomorrow if you continue to invest in your strategy.

Use this time to expand your website by adding new landing pages targeting other services you offer. Adding new, targeted content to your website will not only help you rank for those chosen phrases but since they’re part of your niche, they will help to improve the overall reach of your brand. You may not see an instant uptick in traffic to these new pages because search interest is currently down for almost all industries but a scarce few, but Google’s bots will continue to crawl and index your site, and the more time those pages have to mature, the greater the reward when everything returns back to normal.

Try Something New

Now is a great time to be proactive and try something new (for no cost!), so take this time to help improve your authority both on-site and off-site. For on-site improvements, write blog content. As an Autoshop Solutions client, you have the ability to write your own blogs, and we’ll publish them to your website. Search engines function to answer questions, and you’re the expert, so use your knowledge of the industry to answer questions people may be asking online. That doesn’t mean literally answering questions, but rather writing on a topic that people are curious about. An example would be to write about a specialized service you provide that people may not be familiar with, but recently heard of, so they’re searching for it. Say, for example, carbon cleaning of direct-injection fuel systems, or ADAS calibration when a windshield is replaced, or how match-mounting tires on a Hunter Road Force balancer can improve the ride of a vehicle’s tires. The topics you could write about are seemingly endless. Remember- you’re the expert, so write about what you know.

Off-site improvements (meaning not on your website) could also be made to increase your authority online. Take the time to post to social media and engage with your followers, add high-quality photos of your shop to your Google My Business listing, or a GMB post to tell clients what you’re doing during this event. We know these off-site signals influence buying decisions, so be sure you’re maximizing their potential.

Keep Calm and Carry On

In these unprecedented times, it’s easy to lose focus and worry about what our normal will look like in the future. But as an automotive repair shop, you will always serve as an essential service to your communities. So continue to tell people about it through your online marketing because there will come a day soon when they will need their cars fixed. When they do, they’ll turn to Google to find you.

Written by Pete

Pete is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist at Autoshop Solutions. His background may be in computer networking, but his attention to detail and understanding of how the Internet works on a technical level enables him to excel in his role as an SEO Specialist. In addition, he’s been a lifelong “car guy” and worked in an auto repair shop for several years which allows him to relate to our clients’ needs. When Pete is not on the job, he enjoys playing with his kids, tackling projects around the house, and wrenching on his car.

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