By Andrew Markel
BRAKE & FRONT END magazine
Go and enter the name of your shop at www.google.com. Try putting “quote marks” around the name of your shop, like “main street auto care.” Now try entering the city where you are located with the name of your shop. I don’t care if you’re a two-bay operation, or have multiple locations.
What did you find? Your shop’s website? Information on the youth baseball league you sponsored? A local civil court case decision that your shop won? A customer complaining about the service they received at your shop?
This is called “Googling.” The term was once reserved for egomaniacs. But, it is also how some consumers anonymously check out your shop. It is the reality of the present that you will have to deal with even if you do not have a website.
How does Google Work?
If you are looking for the 800 number for Google in hopes of removing unflattering or incorrect information, you are out of luck. How it finds and ranks information is impartial, mathematical and logical. Also, politics and advertising do not determine where a page ranks. It is about content, credibility and links.
Google’s computers scan the Internet 24 hours a day. It analyzes web pages for information. It looks for key words like repair, automotive and other important phrases. Where the words and phases are located along with the density also play a critical role.
It looks at who has linked to a website. It uses this to measure the credibility of a site. Also, it has other “filters” to determine if it is a site trying to sneak its way up the ranking by tricking Google. It is done with algorithms and rarely is a human involved.
Google does not make money by artificially adjusting the rankings. It wants to provide users with the most relevant content. According to Google’s business model, by providing the best search results, it builds a loyal audience that is more likely to click on the sponsored ads that appear on the tops and sides of the pages. By not being greedy and shortsighted, they have become one of the trusted and profitable names on the Internet.
Google can work in mysterious ways. You have to be patient. It can take up to two months to alter rankings. Also, you have to be proactive and generating content that points to your shop.
Negative result or rankings on Google cannot be altered directly. You have to contact the website listed and ask them to remove the offending or inaccurate content. Most websites have no problem in doing this.
The toughest content to correct are websites with “user generated content.” These types of websites includes blogs, forums or consumer review sites. This is where a user can register and tell others about their experiences.
Most of these sites allow anyone to post anything with little burden of proof. The majority of webmasters or forum moderators will remove offending or inaccurate content if you contact them. But, if that is not possible, you can fight fire with fire. This is done by registering or creating your own profile in order to respond. This is your chance to tell your side of the story and possibly resolve the problem. But, do not personally attack or “flame” a user on the website. It could really backfire. In the eyes of the Googling consumer, the shop that responds will look better than one that did nothing at all.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not choosing the right web address for your shop’s website. Forget about snappy words or slick phrases. The key to getting a top ranking is to include the name of your shop and what you do in the address. For example, www.eastsideautocareandrepairbrakes.com will be ranked higher than www.eastsideshop.com.
You may say that you do not want the “Googling type” of customer at your shop. But they are some of the most affluent customers. If you treat them right, there is a strong possibility that they will tell the world about it via the Internet. This could be the best type of advertising.