By Mark Claypool
Last year, I started what I hoped would be an annual column challenging you to tackle some important issues related to your shop’s online Web presence. I described resolutions as promises you make to yourself in hopes of making a positive difference in your life and the lives of others promises you make now as you consider a fresh start. You know…those promises you usually break before the second week of January!
How about breaking that cycle? Let’s revisit some of those resolutions from 2013 and take a look at new resolutions for 2014.
Did you take me up on any of the following challenges?
Freshen up your website. Last year, I challenged you to update your website’s content a bit to be current and make sure the copyright at the bottom is current. Updated content shows search engines your business is alive and well. Sites more than five years old should probably be redesigned and updated.
How is your site ranking? If your site isn’t showing up on page one of a search, using the most common search terms the public uses such as “auto body” and “body shop” plus “your town and state’s two-letter abbreviation,” you need to seriously think about having a true search engine optimization (SEO) specialist work on your site to help boost your rankings. Skip past the sponsored listings and map pointer listings and look for what are known as the “organic” search results. Are you on page one? Page one or bust, but…beware! This is an area where lots of developers throw around the term “optimization” or SEO, but few are really SEO experts. You don’t know what you don’t know, so this can be an area where you can be taken advantage of.
Build a mobile version of your website. Did you? A huge percentage of people are going online with their phones, especially Generation Y (those under 30 years of age who do everything on their phones). These mobile versions are optimized for smaller screens and should have effective calls to action prominently displayed. Less is more, so don’t make these too complicated.
Measure your online results. Are you measuring your online results with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights? Anything worth doing is worth measuring.
Participate effectively in social media. Is your business effectively participating in Facebook and Twitter? Have you added Google+ to your social media efforts (see below this is a 2014 resolution)? What does “participating effectively” mean? It means actively promoting your accounts, getting “likes” and “followers,” posting content regularly that elicits participation, commenting and sharing from people.
If you haven’t tackled the 2013 resolutions yet, add them here, then add the following 2014 resolutions:
I resolve to get more “likes” on Facebook. Our biggest challenge with our social media clients at Optima Automotive is to motivate them to promote their social media pages to their customers. All it takes is for someone to hand the customer a flyer and have them scan a QR code. Not everyone will do it, but a percentage will. You don’t get if you don’t ask! Consider promoting posts through Facebook. It costs a few bucks, but your outreach to those who haven’t “liked” you yet increases dramatically. We’ve seen strong results with our clients when we promote posts for them.
I resolve to claim my business’s Google+ page. You really need to claim your Google+ page. Google has likely created one for you by now, but if you haven’t already, it’s time to verify your business and location through Google. This will allow you to enter your hours of operation, upload photos and control the content. And it allows you to start getting Circles of fans.
I resolve to start posting regularly on Google+. Once you’ve verified your Google+ page, you’ll get more mileage if you start posting regularly to that page, much like you do on Facebook. Google says you should be posting at least once every 72 hours. It needs to be a unique posting, not a copy of what you do on Facebook. And not all automotive stuff, either. As I’ve stated before, you and I eat and breathe automotive, but your customer base does not. Mix it up a bit with local events and charitable efforts you participate in, etc.
I resolve to get my directory listings accurate and consistent. Having these consistent increases the potential of your site being ranked.
Don’t let these resolutions follow the same path as most and go unresolved. Don’t you deserve better than that? Make 2014 your year for online marketing action!
On behalf of myself and my team at Optima Automotive, I would like to wish you, your families and employees the very best during this holiday season. May 2014 be blessed and happy, and may your resolutions truly move your business to the next level online!
BodyShop Business Contributing Editor Mark Claypool has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of workforce development, business/education partnerships, apprenticeships and Web presence management. He is the CEO of Optima Automotive (www.optimaautomotive.com), which provides website design, development, search engine optimization (SEO) services and social media management services. Claypool’s work history includes stints at Metro Paint Supplies, VeriFacts Automotive, the National Auto Body Council (NABC), the I-CAR Education Foundation and SkillsUSA. He is the founder of Mentors At Work and co-founder of the Collision Industry Foundation. He served, on a volunteer basis, as the SkillsUSA World Team Leader for the WorldSkills Championships from 2003 to 2011.