Creating a Shop Blog
A strong website is a significant tool for driving new business to your shop. But that’s only if consumers can find it. People searching the Internet want to find information quickly, and rarely dig deep into results provided by search engines. Shops that aren’t listed within the first two pages of results simply aren’t getting found, says Will Johnson, chief information officer for Automated Marketing Group.
Blogging is one simple and easy initiative that all shop operators can implement to boost their rankings and chances of attracting eyeballs to the business. Johnson discusses the value of adding a blog to your website, and a few best practices to make the effort worthwhile.
There are two main reasons for adding a blog to your website. First, Internet search engines reward websites that are regularly updated with better rankings. Blogs improve the search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, and lead to higher organic page rankings. The more often you produce fresh content on your site, the better chances you’ll have for search engines to see you as an authority in the industry. One shop I worked with went from page 20 to the first page on Google’s search rankings after implementing a blog.
Second, a blog is a solid tactic for building community and engaging potential customers. It helps convey your industry expertise, which creates top-of-mind awareness among consumers in the area.
Adding a blog is a basic process that most Web developers can do. It’s best to put the blog on a separate page of your existing website under a section called “News and Updates.” You can provide teasers for your blog on the homepage of your website by including the headline and first paragraph of your latest post. That provides additional SEO benefits, and draws in other visitors who might not ordinarily click on a blog.
It’s up to shop owners or their staff to create and manage blog content. It should not be an intimidating or time-consuming effort. Here are several tips to help you easily implement an effective strategy:
Develop content. There are two ways to develop appropriate topics to blog about. One way is to monitor common questions that your current customers have, such as why regular oil changes are necessary or why vehicles have trouble starting in cold weather. Offering answers to general automotive questions is valuable.
Another way to develop blog fodder, which will also improve SEO and organic search rankings, is to identify the specific sets of automotive-related keywords that consumers in your area most commonly search for. Google Adwords has a research tool that shop operators can use to identify those keywords in any geographic region of the country. Building blogs around keywords that people are searching for allows your website to be found based on those items.
Make sure to also incorporate geographic-based keywords into your blog. Include the city, county and state where your shop is located, and the various local communities that you serve. Just be careful not to overuse those keywords in your content. The blog should flow like a normal article.
Provide value. The goal of a blog is to teach readers about the benefits and value of making certain repairs or routine maintenance. For example, you might write a blog about brake flushes. Discuss the value of the process, what it means for the vehicle, and how it will impact long-term performance. That’s the best type of content to produce.
Include graphics. Include any applicable pictures, images or illustrations to augment your blog when possible. That adds “color” to the post, and provides opportunity to visually illustrate certain points you’re trying to address.
Keep it simple. Blog content should not be overly complex, technical or difficult for readers to understand. You should be able to take complicated automotive-related concepts and discuss them using language that the average reader can relate to.
Keep it concise. Blogs should be brief so people can quickly read through the entire post without losing attention. Limit each paragraph to a few sentences. The entire blog post should never exceed 400 words.
Do it regularly. New blog posts should be written consistently. One post each month is a good place to start, but developing a bi-weekly routine is ideal.
Don’t worry about your writing skills. Readers don’t expect blogs to be proper or polished. They appreciate blogs that are written more conversationally. However, blogs should include correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Shop owners don’t have to be the authors of the blog. If you want to keep the effort in-house but don’t have time to do it yourself, asking service writers to take this on is the wisest choice. Service writers are the ones on the front counter. They know the common questions that customers ask and they know how to educate customers about the features, benefits and value of each service you offer.
The key to making a blog sustainable—and easy—is to write about things you’re passionate about. Speak from the heart, and be genuine in your desire to provide readers with value. Although positive results can take time to generate, you’re sure to boost business by consistently doing this right.