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Modern SEO Tips

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Let’s get the fundamentals out of the way

SEO, or search engine optimization, relates to strategies that Web users utilize to enhance their search rankings. More specifically for quick lubes, operators want to be on that first page of search results when a potential customer is looking online for a shop. Even more specifically, you’re talking about Google most of the time, because that’s where the vast majority of searches take place.

One benefit of contracting an outside company to manage your web presence is that they track changes in the suggestions that a company like Google might make to help boost search rankings. There are many, many factors that affect your searchability.

“Google is changing on a regular basis,” says Kevin Steeland, CEO of PISTn Digital Marketing. “They’re constantly changing. There are new things that are happening that they are saying are important.”

Steeland says that these changes are steps in the quest to make the internet more user-friendly and to serve up more quality content in searches. Thus, the guidelines that Google suggests might be ways to make the user experience quicker and more informative.

That’s how SEO grew past mere keywords to boost searchability. Google has the power to judge quality in many different ways all in the time it takes to make a search.

“SEO is more than just keywords,” says A.J. Olson, digital marketing expert at Silver Frog Marketing. “It’s about user experience. Google wants authorities on topics, and they want to make sure that a user experience on a topic is positive.”

Whether you’re maintaining your own web presence or working with a third party, here are a few fundamental steps you can take to improve searchability and get customers in the door.

Speed is king.

Loading speed is an increasingly important part of SEO, particularly on mobile devices that may not be as high-powered as a desktop computer.

There are lots of items that can slow down a website, including large images, unnecessary code, or additional programs loading onto a page.

“All of that stuff slows the website down, and if it slows down, the consumer is going to say, ‘This is taking too long,’” Steeland says. “So that’s a big factor with Google.”

If you’re pulling photos directly from your phone or camera onto a website, you might be able to reduce its size a bit before losing quality and gain loading speed.

Olson says that Google has an online tool for website owners to type in their URLs and get a review of potential speed problem spots. That could be a good place to start.

“It will give you suggestions on things, such as optimizing images to be a smaller file format,” Olson says.

Pro tip: Smarter Print Ads

Say you have a print ad that lists your address, hours of operation, phone number, and a coupon or promotion. Then you include your website address. But if all the basic information is in the print ad, why would someone be compelled to visit your website?

Steeland says this is a common mistake.

“If I put out a print ad, make sure you list the website and give a reason to visit the website.”

Make sure there is something that entices a customer to visit your website, whether it’s to get a coupon, view a blog, or win a prize.

Readability is searchability.

This is important for any area of your web presence, whether you’re developing keywords within a website, creating titles and landing pages, or writing periodic blogs and social media posts. The text needs to have correct and consistent spelling in order for Google to recognize that your operation is the right one for a customer’s search.

Olson suggests that operators start by making a list of important keywords that they want to use within their website or pass on to a third party. Like traditional SEO, think about what your customers would be searching for.

“It would be dependent on each business and what kinds of words and phrases they want to show up in Google,” Olson says.

Another key factor in readability is the structure of content on a page, Olson says. If a website is sloppily thrown together, lacking proper indentation, paragraphs, or odd bullet points, Google will recognize that and downgrade the site based on that experience.

Be updated.

Google likes to see websites that have relevant and recent content.

“That’s showing that you're not just letting your website sit there and be a brochure,” Steeland says. “You're participating in your website and adding content.”

The easiest way to do this is to maintain a blog with timestamps. You might offer updates about your business, new promotions, employee updates, or changes in hours of operation.

Google gauges quality based on how recently the information was posted. If your blog hasn’t been updated in three years, the search engine might view a competitor’s blog from last week and rank it higher, even if the content is the same.

Another benefit to having lots of new content is that it draws customers to your website for longer times. That’s another crucial metric in the Google matrix. One way to do that is to incorporate multimedia.

“Increasing time on site is important,” Olson says. “So you’ve got to have video on your site.”

Google tracks how long users stay on a web page before moving onto something else—a metric called “bounce rate.”

 “That shows google or any of these other search engines that if customers are spending some time on that site, then it must have some relevant information,” Steeland says.

Pro tip: Give partners a hand

If your operation invests in a third party to manage and update your web presence, that’s a good way to offload some work. But remember that you’ve hired Web experts, and not necessarily automotive experts.

“A lot of marketing companies do not specialize in automotive and repair,” Olson says. “They might not know all of the keywords that pertain to the industry.”

Help your online marketing partner to learn the best phrases, keywords, and services that will draw in the biggest audience.

Don’t just update the website.

If your operation has a robust online presence, you’re likely to be found in multiple places, like a website, social media, online business listings, and others.

SEO incorporates all of these spaces, and it’s up to the operator to make sure that the information on your business is consistent and updated in every area. If your Google business listing is all up to date, but Yelp isn’t, that might not be a mark in your favor.

“In Google, and all these other search engines, they look at all that data on the internet, and they're looking for consistency,” Steeland says. “And if they see that it’s inconsistent, we feel that it shows a ding against your business and can affect how you are placed in search results.”

If your hours of operation changes, then there are likely multiple places where that information needs to be updated. Google and Facebook are two common entry points for web users, as well as your own website. But pay attention to the lesser-used platforms as well to capture the most customers.


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