Facebook Now Impacts Shops’ Internet SEO
Participation with Facebook is no longer just a good idea for auto repair shops. It’s now an imperative business strategy for shops to be found online. And it’s all due to changes Google made to its search algorithm late last fall, says automotive Internet marketing expert Danny Sanchez, CEO of Autoshop Solutions.
The change is now impacting Web traffic and business volume for shops nationwide. Sanchez offers a viewpoint on why—and how—your business should adapt immediately.
Google’s ‘Social Signals’
Google has incorporated social media concepts called “social signals” (what people are saying about your business, and how you are communicating with the community through social media platforms) into its search algorithms to prioritize Internet search rankings for businesses.
The updated algorithm allows shops to be perceived as stronger authorities in the industry because of positive social signals. Google sees a signal when businesses have activity on their social media platforms, and companies are rewarded with more attention because of that. It’s like shooting a flair signal that helps you get noticed.
Facebook is the most prominent of these social signals. Google understands the prominence of Facebook among American consumers, and knows the activity and communication it generates impacts the way people search online.
Google is trying to make Internet searches better for the average consumer, and is doing everything it can to clean up the search process and serve the information that people are looking for first. Google recognizes that people use Facebook to find business referrals. So the company made changes to improve search results by instantly putting that information in front of consumers during Internet searches.
Small Business-Consumer Facebook Connections
The SEO Significance of Social Engagement
Facebook now has the option for people to leave reviews for shops when they comment on the company’s Facebook page, similar to Yelp.com. Google recognizes likes, comments and reviews that consumers make on every shop’s page, and serves up those businesses first when that consumer’s Facebook friends search for auto repair services online.
For example, say you are a consumer who lives in the Raleigh, N.C., market, and one of your Facebook friends has liked, commented or left a review for ABC Repair Shop in Raleigh, N.C. Google will notice the fact that you are friends with a person who interacted with ABC Repair Shop’s Facebook page, and will rank that shop higher in organic search results when you search “auto repair Raleigh” because you’re on that person’s friends list. Google will provide a link to ABC Repair Shop like usual, but also include a link below that says, “your friend John Smith likes this business.”
Google’s entire purpose for this algorithm update is to serve information that closely matches the preferences of consumers. If a consumer is looking for a shop to visit, why wouldn’t they want to know where one of their friends has been and is already happy with?
This has a huge impact on auto repair shops’ search engine optimization (SEO) and organic Internet search rankings. Social media has driven 50 percent increases in organic search ranks for some repair facilities.
Google’s search algorithm still includes several factors, and Facebook is just one piece of the pie. But neglecting active Facebook participation leaves a hole for competitors to beat you and reduces your chances of getting found. If all things are equal between two locally competing repair locations, but one is socially active and the other is not, the socially active shop will now outrank the other.
Engagement is Key
Creating a Facebook page is the first step, but simply having a presence on the platform won’t cut it. Social signals are largely based on the amount of interaction your page and posts generate. Facebook pages that don’t drive engagement aren’t extremely helpful.
Shops have to generate a group of followers who see the business as an organization worth listening to. You do that by being personal and genuine with posts, being a good listener, and actively communicating with clients.
Remember, people don’t like hearing about your business and how great you are. People want things that impact their lives, such as driving tips, maintenance tips, etc. People also like to interact with fun topics that aren’t associated with the auto repair industry. One of the most effective posts I’ve seen a shop make was during National Sandwich Day. The shop posted a blurb about National Sandwich Day, a photo of a sandwich, and asked people what kind of sandwich they were going to eat that day. That generated huge amounts of traffic.
Shop owners need to understand this is about people interacting with you on your Facebook page. It doesn’t always matter what topic people are talking about as long as they are engaging with something on your own branded page. People won’t forget that you’re a repair shop just because you talked about National Sandwich Day.
A Professional Business
There is no source of new customers more powerful than the Internet. And social media is a huge component of the Internet marketing puzzle. You cannot leave this part out. Shops will either find a way to include this with their online efforts, or get left behind at some point in time.
Years ago, people started saying any company without a website would be perceived as unprofessional or nonexistent. Now, it’s the same adaptation with Facebook. You’re not serious about having an Internet presence if you’re not at least participating at that level.