2021 Service Optimization GuideYour service department can be an incredible source of traffic for your website. For many marketing companies, their focus is new and used car sales. When you really think about it, it doesn’t make much sense. According to NADA, 49% of an auto dealer’s gross profit comes from service.

So why is this lucrative part of your business so often an afterthought?

To be honest, we have no idea, but we’re OK with having competitors sleep on it! Below is a graph from one of our clients who spent years building up their organic traffic for service. The results speak for themselves. The client is now receiving a 400% increase in organic traffic.

Google Analytics Traffic Increasing over a 3 year period

Traffic of a fusionZONE Client who focused on Service

We’re sure you’re ready to start taking your service center’s profit potential seriously and powering up your website content. So, where should you begin?

Laying The Groundwork

The first thing you need to do is create a catalog of what you have on your site today. Here are some items we recommend you start with. 

  • Spend at least an hour just clicking around your service pages and taking notes. This may seem like a long time, but you will quickly find it’s not enough time. When you’re checking around your site, put yourself in the mind of your customer. What is difficult to navigate? What pages are confusing?
  • Check your links. Fixing links that don’t work or point to unintended destinations is an easy win. Ask yourself, “If I clicked on this link, am I going to the most relevant page?” If the answer is no, change it up!
  • Schedule an appointment through your own Schedule Service page. The easiest way to see through your customer’s eyes is to try to book an appointment at your own business. If you’re frustrated or confused at any point, your customers are too. Remember, most people aren’t as familiar with their vehicle and the scheduling process as someone who works in this vertical. If it’s confusing to you, it’s exponentially so for someone less familiar.
  • Aesthetics matter. If your pages don’t look that nice, then it might be time for a refresher. Your pages should be clean, easy to navigate, and have a consistent color theme. If you have images that are way too big or awkward spacing between your paragraphs, then jot those down to fix later on.
  • Ensure that every page has a CTA. We’ll touch on this later, but almost every single one of your service pages should have a link to schedule service.
  • Try to find a few pages on your site as quickly as you can. This is an odd one, but it’s actually very useful. After you have a list of all your content, pick a page out at random and try to get to it as quickly as you can. If you find it confusing or difficult to reach, then you may want to rethink your site’s layout.

While you don’t need to change anything today, keeping detailed notes on issues you had with the site will come in handy as we expand our content!

So how do you create engaging content? The best way to do this is to write from an authoritative perspective.

You’re the expert; your job is to inform the customer. Your content should be aimed at a customer with squeaky brakes or a check engine light who doesn’t know how to fix it, whether it’s an emergency, or what they can do to prevent it. So here’s a handy checklist to run through your content to ensure that this tone is being met:

  1. Be informative, but not overly technical. Remember, you’re talking to non-mechanics!
  2. Explain why it’s so important to keep your car maintenance up to date. Don’t be too grim or scary, but warn your customers of what can happen if items like brakes are not checked often enough or how a car’s life can be extended with routine oil changes.
  3. Separate your content into digestible sections. This is most likely going to be the first time your customer will be reading this information, and they’ll most likely skim through it. By having nice big headers, it’ll be easy for them to find the information they’re looking for and retain it. Nobody wants to read giant walls of text without any formatting!
  4. Use images! Not only do they help break up your content, but a lot of people are visual learners. Images ensure your information is useful to everyone.

Now that we have our content pages all listed out and we know we want to write from an authoritative perspective, let’s review the more common service pages on your website and ways we can perfect them.

Service Department Main Page

The Service Department page is your catch-all hub for all things service-related. This will usually be your highest traffic and most important page, so take extra care to make sure it’s done right.

Think of your Service Department page as a “Why shop here” page. If a customer reads your information, they should be able to easily find out:

  1. The services you offer.
  2. When you’re open.
  3. How to schedule an appointment.
  4. WHY they should schedule with you.

We heavily emphasized the last point as it’s the one that is so often left out of a dealer’s content page. Do a quick Google search for car service in your area; your customer will probably have plenty of options. But why choose you? What makes you different or better?

The most important thing on this page is to have the bulk of these questions answered above the fold of your content page. The fold of a web page is anything that shows up when you first land on it. Anything you must scroll down to see is called below the fold.

As you can see in this example, you can tell a lot about this particular service department.

DCH Paramus Honda Service Department Page

DCH Paramus Honda’s Service Department Page

You can see:

  1. Where they’re located (Paramus, NJ).
  2. That they’re a Honda OEM service provider.
  3. Their hours of operation.
  4. Why they’re better than other service departments (in two different spots: an Amenities section and “Why Service at…” on the right side).
  5. And a list of CTAs that point you to various sections on the page.

Scrolling down the page, we see the section that allows the customer to schedule their service. Take note of some important parts to this section: it explains, in 3 easy steps, how this process works. 

Scheduling a Service Appointment at DCH Paramus Honda

Schedule service section on the Service Department page

This reduces customer confusion!

Don’t just drop a form on your page and hope your customers can figure it out: demonstrate how easy it is to complete, and you’ll see an uptick in service requests.

Don’t forget: customers love options to book their appointment. Include a phone number here for mobile that allows the customer to call your department directly. That way, if they have any difficulties or questions, they can easily connect with your team!

Other Sections to Include on Your Service Department Page

While the above the fold summary and your schedule service CTAs are the most important pieces to the puzzle, there are several other sections that you can (and should!) include on your page. These are:

  1. Links to your services offered.
  2. More information on why they should service at your location.
  3. A list of team members (with photos!).
  4. Any OEM-specific information.
  5. A link to your accessories page.

Your Service Department page should be by far the most extensive of your service section, so don’t fret if it feels like a lot! Having a big page shows your dedication to ensuring that the customer has a good experience.

Schedule Service Page

While your Service Department page is the foundation of your content, the Schedule Service page is where your efforts will be rewarded. It’s not enough to rank better or get more traffic; you have to actually get more business!

So how do we optimize this page?

Schedule Service Page for a Fixed Ops Dealership

An example schedule service page

A lot of service centers use a 3rd party plugin to schedule service appointments. These tools are popular as they allow repeat customers to log in and see their service history at your business. They’re usually simple to use, so customers like them.

Your other option is a simple web form. If properly optimized, they get the job done as well. Unlike 3rd party tools, you can actually control what appears on a web form.

Follow these steps to get more form fills out of your online service scheduler:

  1. Keep your form short and to the point.
  2. Add a dropdown menu for the type of service that your customer wants.
  3. Add a way for a customer to be able to call your team right from the page.

It’s really that simple.

The best thing you can do is to ensure every content page has a CTA that takes the customer to the Schedule Service page. A customer should be able to get to the Schedule Service page just by clicking on a button rather than digging through your menu.

As for content on this page, you don’t need a ton here. There will be so many links pointing toward the page that search engines like Google will know what to do with it without 1000 words of content. Often, you’ll see this page and your Service Department ranking well.

Don’t you wish they were all that simple?

Specific Services

Now comes to the meat and potatoes of your content: your services. These pages are supplementary to your main two pages (Service Department and Schedule Service) and describe in detail what services you provide.  We’ll cover the common services and how to create great content for them.

Keep one thing in mind: you’ll need a strategy to add your content in a clean, organized way. Adding a ton of links to your menu is no good: you’ll confuse both your customers AND Google. So how do you organize your content?

Solution: the hub page.

A hub page of automotive repair services, inlcuding car batteries, warning lights, and oil changes

An example of a Service Hub

 

A hub page is an overview page where the main content is linked to other pages. You can check out an example of a hub page here. The goal of a hub page is to take links that would otherwise be in your menu and add them within your content.

Hub pages are terrific for SEO. They’re pretty, organized, and give search engines an easy-to-understand format on how your content is structured.

You’ll most likely need your website provider to help with the basic formatting. But once it’s up and running, it’s simple to add pages and keep the content flowing.

Just as a rule of thumb, a blog is not a hub page. Blogs are for your weekly/monthly content, not pages that are the cornerstone of your business.

Now, let’s run through the most common pages that will be on your site!

Oil Changes

Oil changes are the bread and butter of most service operations. More likely than not, your customers will want to know the following information:

  1. How often should I get an oil change?
  2. What does an oil change prevent?
  3. What type of oil should my car be using?
  4. Does the type of car that I have change what I should be getting?
  5. How does the process work?

Here’s an example of a website with a great paragraph on this.

How often you get an oil change depends on the type of car you have, how new it is, etc. It is recommended that your vehicle gets an oil change about every 5,000 miles, depending on your vehicle's make and model and the severity of your driving conditions. There are some factors that affect how often you need an oil change. If any of the following are true for you, you should consider getting an oil change more often than every 5,000 miles. Heavy acceleration or high-speed driving you live in an extremely hot or cold environment, you often drive on dirt roads, your engine is old and burns oil, your vehicle carries heavy loads. Many people do not know exactly what is involved and the procedures that are completed when they take their vehicle in to get an oil change. Here are the basics of what you can expect during an oil change, so you know what is being put into your vehicle to help it run longer and more efficiently.

A great example of oil change content

In addition to the above, we recommend you touch on oil grades as well. If you’re in a traditionally warm region like the Southeast United States or one where the weather changes rapidly like the Northeast, pointing out that it affects what kind of oil you need or how often you need to change it is helpful.

Battery

Identifying and replacing faulty batteries or connections is a common ticket item for most service centers. There are several questions your customers may have about this service:

  1. How often should I change my battery?
  2. What’s a battery’s expected lifespan?
  3. Does weather affect my battery?
  4. When can I suspect a faulty battery?
  5. How do I do a better job at taking care of my vehicle’s battery?
Battery Life Expectancy Zones in the United States

An informational graph depicting battery life expectations zones

While you’ll certainly want to answer some of these questions after the inspection, it might be a good idea to address them beforehand. As mentioned above, use graphs like the one below to clarify and educate your site visitors.

Brakes

Brakes are an interesting content segment because there’s so many symptoms that could lead to a customer coming into your shop with an inquiry.

Some of the more common questions surround the topics of:

  1. Brake warning lights
  2. Brakes grabbing
  3. A hard or soft brake pedal
  4. Brakes pulling
  5. Brakes squealing
  6. Vibrating while breaking

Tire Pressure

For tire pressure, we find most users search for content when their tire pressure monitoring system (or TPMS) light turns on. Content for these pages is fairly straightforward; warn customers about the dangers of driving their vehicle with underinflated tires and how to fix it.

Commonly, a subject that may come up is the difference between Direct and Indirect Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. Dedicating a portion of your content to these topics is well worth your time as they receive a lot of search queries.

Alignment

Alignment is another standard of routine maintenance. Of course, most searches are focused on the question of when or how often, as in “when should I get my vehicle’s steering aligned?”

But there’s another side to alignment: the benefits of having a properly aligned vehicle. Mentioning items like better fuel mileage or a longer lifespan of your tires is often a strong incentive.

Obviously, there are several types of alignment that companies offer, such as front-end, thrust angle, and four-wheel alignment. Ensure that you cover all these topics thoroughly. It would be wise to mention the benefit of adjusting the toe (and using images to demonstrate, like below).

An alignment type chart, including negative camber, positive camber, toe in, toe out, negative caster, positive caster

Using images like this can help explain complicated topics

Routine Maintenance

If you have an itching for charts and checklists, a routine maintenance page is just what you’re looking for.

Many OEMs provide a full list of mileage-to-service checklists. Specific OEM maintenance is also around 3-4x higher search volume than generic routine maintenance. This makes a lot of sense as most customers want information pertaining to their exact make and model.

Ensure that this page includes all of your recommendations. It might be a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort.

The routine checkup page is also an excellent area to include a list of what your service center looks at during regular inspections. That list might look like this:

Tune-Up Checklist: Check, clean, or replace battery and battery cable,, Inspect or replace brake pads, Check or flush brake fluid, Check or flush transmission fluid, Check or flush power steering fluid, Check or flush engine coolant(Radiator), Inspect or replace spark plugs or spark plug wires, Inspect or replace air filter, Inspect or replace timing belt or timing chain, Inspect or replace all other belts, Check all lights, Check to see if rubber boots or covers are cracked and replace if necessary, Test electronics, i.e., Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Read fault codes from the engine's control units (computer diagnostic).

Check lists are great for making easily sharable lists

Warning Lights

The final section is a comprehensive list of warning lights and what they mean. Even though most of us have an owner’s manual stored in the glove box, we’ll quickly pull out our phones for a Google search when that scary red light comes on.

You can capture that search traffic by having a dedicated page that explains what these lights are, what you can do about them, and whether they require immediate attention.

Wrapping Up

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the bottom! We hope that you find this content guide helpful in your attempt to conquer your corner of the internet and dominate search results.

If you ever need help, please connect with us to discuss any specific problems or questions you may have for your site.

 

 

 

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