And here we are again. With all the Google changes, small businesses are scrambling to avoid being relegated to the Internet’s junk bin. Let’s stay on top of it. Whether it’s Google Search, social media or what to do with Google+, you’ll find answers to the most challenging questions, in both a “Go Deep” and “Quick Bites” format. Questions submitted by shop owners at www.ShopOwnerMag.com will be answered by Uwe Kleinschmidt, CEO of AutoVitals, a leading supplier of web-based marketing and service advisor productivity tools.
Q: What is the difference between a Mobile Website and a Mobile Application?
A: Mobile websites are websites optimized for mobile viewing and interaction. They help visitors navigate more conveniently and quickly within the constraints of a small screen size. See Figure 1.
Imagine spending your time zooming in and out of a desktop website minimized on your mobile device. Unless it’s a 10-inch tablet, you can almost wear out your finger getting around and navigating the highly dense website. Mobile websites not only make the navigation easier, but they also offer shortcuts to important calls to action on a website. For example, “tapping” a phone number is calling that number, and “tapping” an address opens Google Maps centered on the concrete location, so it becomes easy getting oriented or finding the correct directions.
Mobile websites are first and foremost important as targets of mobile searches. Or, in other words, if your web presence relies on a desktop website only, then you willingly give up approximately 25% of website visitors on a mobile device to become your customer. And that number is increasing every month.
Mobile applications, on the other hand, provide an even richer user experience, since they run as a native application on your smartphone or tablet and make use of all the user interaction elements the operating system (iOS for iPhone/iPad, Android, etc.) has to offer. Imagine if your customers could see their vehicle image, repair recommendations from you and the ability to take advantage of a promotion when scheduling an appointment, and all this with just three or four taps on the mobile application. See mobile app image in Figure 2.
In other words, in cases when you want to offer a highly personalized experience using lots of information and allow for highly convenient navigation, mobile applications outscore mobile websites. You might ask: “How do I make my customers launch the mobile application?” Smartphones offer a feature called push notification, which allows you to reach your customers with a teasing text, like a service reminder, even if the app is not active. Pressing the “launch” button then takes them directly to the application to explore the offering and make the appointment. See push notification image in Figure 3.
In summary, mobile websites are the target of mobile searches and mobile applications offer rich, personalized user experiences. You could also look at this comparison: you need a mobile website for prospective customers and a mobile application to retain your existing customers.
Q: How important is it to respond quickly to an appointment request through my website?
A: Very important. Most appointment requests are made during off hours and on Sunday night. You do not need to call back immediately; just a confirmation that you have received the request and that you will reach out at the earliest possible time from your shop is good enough. Otherwise, you run the risk of giving up the opportunity to welcome a new customer.
Q: What should the appointment request form on my website ask for?
A: As little information as possible. Do not create a big hurdle for the visitor having to spend endless time in front of your website. Think of it as Part 1 of a conversation you will continue later. We do not advise forcing the visitor to enter an e-mail address and phone number. Internet users like convenience and control over what information they want to offer.
Q: Do tracking phone numbers hurt my Google ranking?
A: That depends on where you place them on your website and how the phone number is made visible. Tracking numbers are a great tool to determine the success of an AdWords or print campaign. On the other end, Google compares the phone number on your website with the one in your Google Places listing and in trusted business directories. If they are different, its “data unity” is violated, which can negatively impact your ranking. Contact us at www.autovitals.com to determine the best way of utilizing tracking phone numbers.
Q: Can YouTube videos on my website help my Google ranking?
A: Videos in general are a great way of making the visitor of your website aware of your specialties, quality work and your experienced staff. I would not recommend leveraging YouTube videos to “game” the Google SEO algorithm. The number of views are important, and the placement of your videos on your website’s About Us page is as important as the content, which should be refreshing, interesting and relevant. In no time, you will be able to see your videos appear on Google Search.
Uwe Kleinschmidt is the CEO and founder of AutoVitals in Santa Barbara, CA. The company’s Web-based services focus on the independent automotive repair industry. AutoVitals’ products facilitate highly effective Concierge Auto Repair services, covering all aspects of the service advisor’s interaction with prospective and existing customers. Highly effective and optimized websites, workflow support in the shop, as well as customer retention and social media services are just a few ingredients. He can be reached by visiting www.autovitals.com or calling 1-866-949-2848.