A Winning Website
Imagine being a customer, opening up your browser, desperate to find a local repair shop that can fix your car quickly and for a good price. You find a couple of possibilities: one is an old, HTML-based website put up in the early 2000s in black and white, with contact info hidden at the bottom of the page; the other is a sleek new site that includes scrolling photos, simple but helpful navigation, and easily accessible information.
Which shop would you pick to repair your car?
“Within a few moments of looking at the front page, most people make a decision on whether or not they want to go there for business,” Alyssa “Lyss” Aviles, an independent web designer, says. When drawing in new customers, an up-to-date website is crucial— it acts as the virtual “face” for the shop. It’s the first thing— and, if done improperly, could be the last thing— that most customers will see of your shop.
Cristian Rolland Tăbârcă, CEO and founder of SeeDesine, website design company, agrees that ensuring the site is modern and up-to-date is absolutely necessary. Along with Lyss, he shares a checklist on the essential components of a website.
1. Include specific, key web pages.
“There are a few key parts for an automotive website,” Tăbârcă says. “First, a home page, focusing on what they do, what they repair or sell.”
The home page is the customer’s introduction to your business, and it tells them who you are as a shop. According to Aviles, it shouldn’t be too cluttered—it should simply include quick navigation, a phone number and location, and an enticing image that helps tell a story (more on that later).
A shop page is a second necessity, Tăbârcă says. He thinks this page should inform viewers who are interested, while also keeping up to date with products, announcements, and discount codes for the shop. Maintaining dynamic content, such blog posts and news, will show customers that you care about the site and your shop as an extension.
“One important thing is to make sure your contact information is easily seen,” Avilesadds. “I make sure the contact information is always in the footer as well.”
A “Contact Us” page is a final necessary key, Tăbârcă says. This includes not only contact info, but an easy way to email the shop as well. If your shop’s contact info can’t be seen right away, it can seem as though the shop is closed off to new customers.
“Google also likes the contact pages on the website,” he says. “It helps a lot on indexing the web page on search results.”
By ensuring your site can be found easily through Google, traffic on the site will increase.
2. Ensure easy navigation.
Cutting to the chase keeps customers invested in the site.
“For a lot of my sites, at the top we typically have their logo and some sort of quick navigation,” Aviles says.
Having a “call-to-action”—in other words, a dedicated button for navigation to the most important pages—keeps customers moving quickly on your site.
“Most people going to a website want to know, ‘How can I schedule an appointment? How can I talk to a mechanic?’ And, with that navigation at the top, they can easily log on, see the call to action, and make a decision,” Aviles says.
Easy navigation helps people find what they want faster and make the decision to use your services faster.
“Navigation should be very user friendly with focused call to action buttons,” Tăbârcă says.
3. Keep it simple.
“I follow this framework called the story brand method,” Aviles says. “It says the most successful marketing always tells a story.”
So, how do you tell a story with a website? It’s easier than you might think, she says. You keep things simple and use that to get customers directly where they want to go.
Many shop owners tend to crowd the homepage with details, she says, jumbling the message they want to get across and ultimately confusing the customer more than it helps them. Packing in a lot of information on the first page can seem enticing, but isn’t worth it.
“Ask yourself, what do you want to tell the customer?” Aviles says. “Do you want people to learn more about who you are? What you can offer? Or do you want them to understand what you specialize in?”
Emphasizing a single, simple message will tell the story best. Including a couple of awards, she adds, or customer testimonials that complement that message, also helps immensely.
4. Optimize your site.
As noted above, having a proper contact page is great for getting Google to notice your site. But there’s more that you can do to rocket your site to the front of a web search.
“Marketing for local customers in online space depends the most on on-site SEO,” Tăbârcă says.
On-site SEO means proper meta titles and meta descriptions. In the case of an automotive site, a proper meta title and description pattern could be the following:
Main focus Area | Business name | Location
Description of the page including key words like the main focus of the business, business name and the location.
Best Auto Repair | Simon Automotive Repair| Norton, Minn.
“Simon Automotive Repair is offering top-quality car repair with the best parts at the best prices available in Norton, Minnesota.”
Aviles also notes the importance of SEO.
“Make a list of top 5 cities to be ‘targeted’ and sprinkle them throughout the site in order to get more hits for nearby cities when people are searching for local shops,” she says.
By placing city names in headlines, preferably near the top of your page, Google tends to pick them up a little more.
“Nowadays, more than 70 percent of website visitors are using their smartphones,” Tăbârcă says. “Mobile optimization of a website is mandatory for website visitors/customers.”
To a lot of people, simplicity equates to being able to use the site on their phone. Failing to optimize for that will likely push that 70 percent away from your shop’s site and ultimately lose you business.
5. Make your site trustworthy.
Aviles’ websites often include professional photographs of the faces behind the business, to emphasize that the story behind the company belongs to a real person— having a face to attach to a name cultivates trust. On this note, she discusses her work with Kingdom Auto Repair, a shop in California.
“When we designed their [Kingdom Auto Repair’s] site and branding, we made sure that we conveyed a sense of trust. Even if someone doesn’t live in Irvine, California, we want them to follow them and learn from them,” she says.
The site’s overhaul mainly consisted of adding in photos to tell a story, including better navigation for customer accessibility, and redesigning blocks of unformatted text to demonstrate technological know-how.
Furthermore, Aviles notes, if a shop doesn’t have a Google My Business listing, they should definitely make one and link it. Having ratings and customer reviews that are easily accessible with a quick search help develop trust. Additionally, having previous customers’ reviews directly visible on your site will help new ones develop trust.
Tăbârcă adds to this by noting again the importance of newsletters and blog posts about your shop.
“By occasionally offering discount codes for signing up to their newsletters in addition, they can also grow their customer base by developing a sense of reliability,” he says.