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The Benefits of Blogging

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Every shop owner knows the significance of having a website. What many don’t know is how to get people to find it. Websites do no good if they don’t get any eyeballs, says Tom Zoebelein, president of collision industry marketing firm Stratosphere Studios. Search engines constantly change their ranking formulas, and it can be tough to maintain high results.

Although several steps can be taken to boost Internet search rankings, one of the most effective strategies that all repairers can implement is blogging.

Zoebelein explains exactly why that’s the case, and a few best practices for making it happen.

If you’re in business today, you’re in the e-commerce business. Many business initiatives are carried out online, and the ability for people to find you is downright essential. That’s why search engine optimization improvement for your website is so important. In general, most people don’t look past the second page of search results, so ranking high is critical to have any chance of engaging consumers with your business.

Google has changed the way it ranks websites. It now rewards higher rankings to websites with regular activity and updated content. Google tracks the type of content on your website and when it was posted to determine the validity of the information. That’s where many shops hit problems. Collision websites often resemble large brochures, and haven’t been updated since the original development. They include pages such as “About Us,” “What We Do,” and “Frequently Asked Questions.” But that simple format doesn’t garner search engine attention anymore. It doesn’t lend itself to new content, which is what Google is looking for. Websites with constant updates always outrank stagnant ones.

Blogging is the best solution for collision repairers. It’s an easy way to add information to your website, and Google perceives every blog post as a new Web page full of fresh content. In addition, blogs can be written with keywords that improve rankings in searches. That will improve your overall search engine rankings, drive traffic to your website and get the phones ringing. In fact, one shop I work with recently implemented a blog and tripled its Web traffic from 200 to 600 monthly hits.

Any good web developer can add a blog component to your website, but it’s up to you to manage it. Here’s the strategy that every shop should follow to make a good blog that will get noticed by search engines:

• Develop content: Write blogs about topics that customers are searching for online. The whole purpose is to provide answers to common customer questions. Think about every question that customers commonly ask. Those tend to be the same questions they search for online: Can I get an online estimate? What types of parts will be used? Will the paint match? Are collision repairs safe? Each of those questions can be a separate blog post.

• Select relevant content: Focus blog posts on the market where you do business. If you’re in a snowy area, write about rust. If you’re in the desert, write about the effects of heat on paint longevity.

• Make unique posts: Google penalizes and reduces rankings of websites that duplicate content that already exists somewhere else. If you have multiple shop locations with different websites, make sure to tweak each post slightly so all of your websites are unique.

• Use keywords: The content of your blog titles and paragraphs should be keyword-rich. Meaning, terms commonly searched by consumers should be included throughout your posts. The best keywords tend to be included in common customer questions. Google also offers a free tool, googlekeywordtool.com, which allows you to identify the frequency of certain keyword searches nationally.

A few examples of keywords that should always be included in your blog titles and content include collision repair, body repair, auto body and paint. But make sure not to overuse those terms. That’s called “keyword stuffing,” and causes websites to be penalized. Keywords should sound natural within the text.

• Use geo-targeting keywords: Search engines know the geographic location that users are searching from. So blog content should be rich with location-based terms. Use location-based keywords that are as specific to your local neighborhood or target market. By using your town and location as keywords in blogs, Google knows where your shop is located as well as the type of services your business offers. For example, say a shop in Tucson, Ariz., wants to blog about peeling clearcoat. The content should specifically address why peeling clearcoat is a problem in Tucson.

• Use images: Images improve the quality and credibility of your blog. Images also further boost search rankings if they are tagged with content and geo-target keywords.

• Do it frequently: Blog posts must be made weekly at minimum.

A blog needs an ambassador. Each blog post should be about 500 words, which can take an hour or so to produce. If you don’t have time to complete this task, find someone else who is willing to take it on. It typically takes about six months before you start to see a boost in Web traffic. It’s a long-term, regular task that must be maintained for the life of your company. It will deliver returns, but you have to be patient. 

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