Don’t Get Taken for a Ride by an SEO Scam Artist

Disreputable SEO companies target website owners.

We’ve had many clients contact us after receiving a call from an “SEO Expert” or “SEO Specialist,” wondering if they need website help. Often, the expert has told them they’re not ranking well for certain key words and phrases, and that he or she can help improve their rankings. Other times, the expert claims he or she can provide recommendations for improving social media presence. For example, here’s part of an email received by one of our clients:

 

“I’ve been doing a ton of research on your online presence and noticed that you in particular have a ton of opportunity to make social media and these customer review sites really work for you to spread word of mouth! These are the sites people go to when they are deciding where to spend their money, so it is imperative that you look as good as possible. I noticed that there are a bunch of tools that you can be using that can make it a lot easier for people to find you. By using these sites in the right way you can gain exposure to more, local potential customers.

I would like to schedule a free consultation with you to cover your social media presence and pass along some specific recommendations, tailored to your business, on how you can make the most out of these sites.”

So the question is, “Are these guys for real, or are you being targeted by an SEO Scam Artist?”

Unfortunately, a growing number of disreputable SEO companies and SEO scams are targeting naïve website owners, generally promising a huge improvement in rankings and online presence in a very short amount of time. Here are some of the most common claims made by SEO scam artists:

I can get you a #1 ranking on Google. When it comes to organic search engine results (rather than paid ads), no one can guarantee a #1 ranking.

I have a special relationship with Google. No SEO company gets “priority” or any other kind of favoritism with Google.

I’ll give you a free trial period. No legitimate company provides SEO services for free, and by giving your username and password to anyone, you are risking your site’s performance and integrity.

I’ll submit your site to dozens/hundreds/thousands of search engines. There’s no benefit to submitting your site to the dozens/hundreds/thousands of search engines that nobody uses.

I can’t disclose my SEO secrets. There are no SEO secrets, just a lot of involved and (oftentimes) tedious work. If an “expert” says they have a secret SEO strategy, they may be using black hat techniques, which can get your site banned by major search engines.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Along with these, there are many other tactics used by SEO scam artists, but in most cases, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So when someone calls you or emails you out of the blue, always be cautious. Think about it this way: the “SEO Expert” found you online, which means you do have a web presence.

Don’t Risk Falling Down the Google Rankings…

If your site’s not responsive, it’s time for an upgrade.

For quite a while, Google has made clear its preference for responsive web design, but never claimed to rank any particular URL format above another as far as SEO goes. Now, it looks like Google may actually demote websites that aren’t mobile-friendly. So if you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, how about going responsive in 2015?


With responsive design, a website’s URL and HTML code stay the same regardless of the type of device (desktop, tablet, or mobile) it’s being viewed on, but the display renders differently—i.e. “responds”—based on the screen size. You can count on perfect readability on any device, along with a well-structured appearance. (Check out our blog “So What’s the Deal with Responsive Sites?” for a more in depth discussion of responsive design.)


Google prefers responsive websites over redirects.

As an aspect of its overarching goal to improve the internet user experience, Google has rolled out several ranking updates that favor responsive sites over non-responsive sites. According to Google, having one URL makes it easier for internet users to interact with a webpage and enables Google’s “algorithms to assign the indexing properties to your content.” It’s also more efficient when Google is crawling your content because Google doesn’t have to crawl multiple pages.


In the past, we offered clients a mobile redirect, which essentially transferred mobile users to a different version of your website that we formatted for mobile use. While having a mobile-friendly option is good, it’s not the same as having a responsive site. A responsive redesign involves putting your website on an entirely different platform, not just changing the HTML code.


Happy New Year! Happy New Website!

Don’t let your website ranking fall in the New Year. Talk to your service advisor about a responsive redesign. When your website works, you work.

ASE Certification Patches

What’s ASE Certified & Why Does It Matter?

Use your website to explain your certifications.

In the automotive repair industry, “ASE Certified” is thrown around a lot by technicians and shop owners. But do your customers know what certification means? Do they realize not all mechanics hold certifications, and that it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to acquire proper training? We’re sorry to tell you—probably not. You have to market your certifications.


Wes Severi, a senior consultant here at Management Success!, recently spoke to Ratchet+Wrench about how shops can effectively market their training certifications to boost their perceived credibility and expertise among customers. Check out the article, and continue reading to learn more about highlighting ASE Certification on your website.


It’s ok—go ahead and brag a little bit.

Let your new and existing customers know you are committed to professionalism, continuing education, and proper automotive training. Distinguish yourself and your shop from mechanics who lack formal certification. There’s no shame in touting your accomplishments! You and your technicians have worked hard to maintain your certifications, and your customers should recognize their value. It means they can count on you for quality work and stellar service.


As Wes explains, “Marketing and promoting your shop’s training certifications is one way to generate a favorable attitude toward your business among members of the community. It demonstrates the professionalism of your facility, illustrates your core values, provides confidence in the expertise of your technicians, and improves perceptions of the level of care you’re able to offer during the repair experience.”


Posting your certifications online is critical.

The primary place customers search for information about your business is your website—it’s the tool they use to gauge your business. Therefore, posting your shop’s certifications online, along with an explanation of the certification, is critical for attracting new customers.  


Explaining your certifications can set you apart.

At MS Web Pros, we give you the opportunity to tell us about your shop when we’re building your website. One thing we ask is “what sets you apart from other shops in your area?” In our experience, not all of our clients’ competitors mention whether or not they hold any certifications, and almost none explain what those certifications mean.


You can really make your shop stand out by explaining the significance of being certified. This can be as simple as talking about the certification process as you would to a curious friend or acquaintance. Just put it in writing. For example:


“An ASE Certified technician is a mechanic who’s fulfilled the voluntary requirements for certification by the U.S. National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. To become ASE Certified, you have to have at least two years of work experience and pass at least one specialty test, and you must renew your certifications every five years. At ABC Automotive, we have technicians ASE Certified in heating/cooling systems, brakes and suspension, and drive trains. We’ve spent more than a decade of combined training hours earning these certifications, making us experts on these systems.”


If you’re Master Certified, let your potential customers know that you’ve taken a series of subject tests, and provide examples of exams you’ve  successfully passed. A test you name may be the exact service your potential customer is looking for.


Learn more about marketing your certifications!

You worked hard to earn your certifications, and your customers should understand the time and effort it takes to be an excellent automotive technician. They’ll be more likely to appreciate your expertise and respect your advice. To learn more about marketing your certifications, contact Management Success! today.

 

WE CARE Women's Excellence in Auto Repair Equality

Marketing to Women with Your Auto Shop Website

Female-friendly websites bring in business.

At the Management Success! Fall Convention, female automotive professionals from around the country launched WE CARE—Women’s Excellence, Careers in Auto Repair Equality—an advisory board that will work to raise awareness of the auto repair industry as a viable career path for women as well as men. Another goal is to show how the auto repair industry has changed and continues to evolve. More and more often, women are running things behind and in front of the shop counter.


According to member and shop co-owner Lacee Cunningham, “we are dedicated to helping others by offering up [our] resources for career opportunity, training, and ideas.” One way the group can help you—as a shop owner—is by providing tips for marketing to women. And they’ll tell you, an important way to attract female customers is through your auto shop website.


Find out what women want—and then deliver it.

The auto repair shop is generally perceived as a male domain, but in fact, women request 65% of the service work done on cars and spend over $200 billion on new cars and servicing each year. Women also buy more than half of the new cars in the U.S. and influence up to 80% of all car purchases. Accordingly, it pays to find out what female customers want and need—and then deliver it.


When it comes to your website and your online presence, women are more likely to engage in social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and check review sites, such as Google and Yelp, before choosing an auto shop. Therefore, it’s important to respond to your reviews and engage your customers on social networking sites. Your happy female customers are likely to tell their friends and family members about your shop online.


In addition to having a fresh and attractive looking website, it’s helpful to include personal information about yourself and your employees. This makes you “real” to potential customers. Pictures and education points also establish your authenticity.


Make your mama happy.

It does take a little effort, but marketing to women pays off in the long run—with repeat business, future referrals, and an increased viable customer base. What a huge return! And all you have to do is “make your mama happy.”


Here are some websites we’ve designed for WE CARE members:


Aardvark Automotive

2nd-to-None Service

Knight’s Automotive Repair

Ultimate Truck Service

Equipment Experts, Inc.

MS! Masters of Shop Management Convention

Management Success! Fall Convention 2014

MS Web Pros Auto Shop Website Demos

MS Web Pros is excited to be part of the Management Success! Fall Convention, being held this weekend (Septemeber 26-28) in Universal City, CA. Our team will be giving one-on-one website demonstrations to shop owners, offering tips for attracting more customers online.

 

We’ll look at existing shop websites, and give specific advice for improvement, such as placing contact info in an optimal location and using the right imagery and content to target customers in a particular city or with a particular need. We’ll also explain important concepts for staying on top of internet-use trends, including the benefits of having a responsive site that’s easy to use for people browsing the web on phones and tablets.


Masters of Shop Management

Management Success! conventions offer  an excellent opportunity for networking with like-minded shop owners, many of whom run some of the top automotive shops in the U.S. and Canada. At every convention, shop owners are recognized for achieving new levels of shop expansion.

 

This time around, a select group of shop owners will be awarded the Masters of Shop Management, indicating they’ve achieved the highest level of accomplishment in managing and running their shops. These shop owners are able to serve as ambassadors and help other shops improve their knowledge, skills, profitability, and operations.

 

If you’re going to be at the convention, we can’t wait to see you! If you have any questions about web marketing or your own website, stop by and talk to us.

 

Browsing the Web on a Smartphone

So What’s the Deal with Responsive Sites?

Your customers are on the go. With a responsive site, so are you.

At MS Web Pros, we continuously strive to optimize our clients’ websites for mobile devices. Here’s why.


People use their phones and tablets to browse the web everywhere they go. That means your website doesn’t just sit on a desk. It needs to look sharp and be functional in every context, regardless of screen size. In other words, it must be “responsive.” Responsive web design is the concept of developing a website in a manner that allows the layout to change according to the user’s computer screen size and resolution.


The best responsive web designs simultaneously attract mobile web users while maintaining a website’s aesthetics. You can count on perfect readability regardless of the device displaying your website, along with a well-structured appearance that beautifully conveys your brand and your message.


In order to understand and appreciate responsive web design, it helps to think about how people use their phones and tablets for web browsing, and also to visualize the most popular sites on the web (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr). These sites are minimal, and they are easy to use on mobile devices. It’s also important to note that people vertically scroll these sites, moving down the page to see content rather than going to a different page and waiting for it to load.


Wait…Long scrolling pages are a good thing?

In the old days, web designers often tried to cram a lot of content “above the fold” on a website’s home page. (In web design parlance, “above the fold” refers to the portions of a webpage that are visible without scrolling.) This strategy is based on the presumption that people are unlikely to scroll down when they come across a web page; rather, they only read what’s right in front of them.


But that’s just not the case—at least not anymore. People are used to scrolling through websites. A big part of that is the ascendancy of smartphones and tablets, which people now use to browse the web more often than they use a desktop or laptop. So while the area “above the fold” on your home page is still your website’s most valuable real estate, it’s not really necessary to overload the space with content.


Instead, the current trend—and more effective approach—is to grab the viewer’s attention with engaging text and images. And if people are intrigued by what they read and see, they are likely to scroll down to find out more about your shop and your services.


Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow.

People are creatures of habit. And right now most internet users are in the habit of browsing the web on the go. A responsive design means that your new and existing customers will feel at home on your website even when they’re out of the house.

 

Computer & Notepad

Writing for the Web Goes Old School

Get Back-to-the-Basics when writing web content.

In your search for a web design company, you’ve probably heard that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is important for ranking on Google and other search engines. In fact, SEO has been a buzzword (or “buzz-acronym”) in the digital marketing industry for years. While the term SEO will likely stick around, the way sites are optimized for search engines has changed significantly. You might even say SEO has come full circle—we’re back to the basics.


What’s old school about modern SEO?

SEO generally means focusing content from a keyword perspective. You do some research, find out what people are likely to search when they’re looking for a particular product or service, and build your content around those phrases. The problem with this approach is that you can quickly wind up with awkward, hard-to-read content that doesn’t sound natural at all. Who wants to read something that feels like it’s been written for a machine rather than a person?


And Google doesn’t like to be made a fool. More and more frequently, Google has changed its search algorithms and penalized sites that are stuffed with keywords.


So it’s time to get back to the basics. Rather than focusing on keywords, it’s best to write clear, user-friendly content that will connect with your target audience. Don’t worry—you’ll naturally use the same words in your content that your customers do when they’re searching for auto repair or service in your area. You’re your best keyword generator.


It’s also important to regularly update your content, which can easily be done by staying on top of news and developments in the auto repair industry. Search engines look for content that is current, so even if you start out with excellent content on your site, you do need to add new items, such as reviews and blog posts, to keep your site fresh and effective.


On the web, as in life, the customer comes first.

Creative, interesting, and regularly updated content gets Google’s attention. Moreover, it gets your potential customer’s attention. So let’s get old school with content, and write in a way that’s uncontrived, friendly, and helpful to your customer.