2022 Service Content Optimization Guide
Your service department can be an incredible source of traffic for your website. After all, 49% of an auto dealer’s gross profit comes from service, according to NADA.
However, many automotive marketing companies focus solely on new and used car sales. It doesn’t make much sense when you think about it.
So, why is the lucrative part of your business (service) 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 months building up their organic traffic for service. The results speak for themselves. The client is now receiving a 25% increase in organic traffic.
After seeing these impressive results, we’re sure you’re ready to start taking your service center’s profit potential seriously and powering up your website content.
Before we jump in, let’s first look at the state of the auto service industry in 2022, including areas of opportunity to consider during your service content optimization efforts.
2022 Auto Service Industry Outlook
What is the current state of the auto service industry, and where is it headed in the short term? The latter component of this question is sure to be on the mind of many industry professionals.
The economic challenges of 2022, like rising inflation and mortgage rates, could lead service customers to pull back on their budget for higher-priced repairs.
However, continued industry supply chain challenges and economic factors in 2022 could present further tailwinds for your service center business over the months and even years ahead.
With supply chain issues keeping new-car inventories below normal levels, more motorists are choosing to hold on to their older vehicles or upgrade to a used car instead of a brand-new one. In fact, the average age of US vehicles has risen to 12.2 years, up two months from 2021.
Older cars on the road means more opportunities for your service business!
So how can you capitalize on your service department during the ongoing new-car inventory shortage and an economic downturn?
Promoting essential routine maintenance and affordable car repair services could bring more customers of various budgets into your service center and help offset other areas of your business.
Where should you begin boosting your website’s service content?
Laying The Groundwork
You first need to 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 browsing your site, put yourself in the mind of your customer. What is challenging 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 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 industry. If it’s confusing to you, it’s exponentially so for visitors.
- Aesthetics matter. If your pages don’t look great, 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 there’s awkward spacing between your paragraphs, then jot those down to fix later.
- 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.
- Find a few pages on your site as quickly as possible. This is an odd one, but it’s actually very useful. After you have a list of all your content, select a page randomly and try to get to it as quickly as possible. If you find it confusing or difficult to reach, 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. So 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.
Here’s a handy checklist to run through your content to ensure that this tone is being met:
- Be informative but not overly technical. Remember, you’re talking to non-mechanics!
- 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 you can extend a car’s life with routine oil changes.
- Separate your content into digestible sections. This will likely be the first time your customer will be reading this information, and they’ll probably skim through it. Having large headers will make it 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!
- Use images! Not only do they help break up your content, but many people are visual learners. Images ensure your information is helpful 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 ensure 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:
- The services you offer.
- When you’re open.
- How to schedule an appointment.
- 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.
You can see:
- Where they’re located (Paramus, NJ).
- That they’re a Honda OEM service provider.
- Their hours of operation.
- Why they’re better than other service departments (in two different spots: an Amenities section and “Why Service at…” on the right side).
- 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 essential parts of this section: it explains how this process works in 3 easy steps.
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. So include a phone number here for mobile that allows the customer to call your department directly. That way, they can easily connect with your team if they have any difficulties or questions!
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:
- Links to your services offered.
- More information on why they should service at your location.
- A list of team members (with photos!).
- Any OEM-specific information.
- A link to your accessories page.
Your Service Department page should be the most comprehensive of your service section, so don’t fret if it feels like a lot! An extensive service page shows your dedication to ensuring 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?
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:
- Keep your form short and to the point.
- Add a dropdown menu for the type of service that your customer wants.
- Add a way for a customer to be able to call your team right from the page.
It’s 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 1,000 words of content. As a result, you’ll often see this page and your Service Department page ranking well.
Don’t you wish they were all that simple?
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. Let’s 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 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, adding pages and keeping the content flowing is simple.
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 service pages that will be on your site!
Oil changes are the bread and butter of most service operations. More likely than not, your customers will want to know the following information:
- How often should I get an oil change?
- What does an oil change prevent?
- What type of oil should my car be using?
- Does the kind of car I have change what I should be getting?
- How does the process work?
Here’s an example of a website with a great paragraph on oil change tips:
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 somewhere the weather changes rapidly, like the Northeast, it is helpful to point out that it affects what kind of oil you need or how often you need to change it.
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:
- How often should I change my battery?
- What’s a battery’s expected lifespan?
- Does the weather affect my battery?
- When can I suspect a faulty battery?
- How do I do a better job at taking care of my vehicle’s battery?
While you’ll undoubtedly 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 are an attractive content segment because there are 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:
- Brake warning lights
- Brakes grabbing
- A hard or soft brake pedal
- Brakes pulling
- Brakes squealing
- Vibrating while breaking
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 the issue.
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 is another standard of routine maintenance. But, 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 another side to alignment is 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.
There are several types of alignment that companies offer, such as front-end, thrust angle, and four-wheel alignment. So ensure that you cover all these topics thoroughly. In addition, it would be wise to mention the benefit of adjusting the toe (and using images to demonstrate, like below):
A routine maintenance page is just what you’re looking for if you have an itching for charts and checklists.
Many OEMs provide a complete list of mileage-to-service checklists. Specific OEM maintenance is around three to four times higher in search volume than generic routine maintenance. This makes sense as most customers want information about 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:
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.
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the bottom! We hope you find this content guide helpful while attempting 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.