While few would argue that an auto shop website isn’t necessary, the range of what qualifies as a “website” is pretty broad. There’s no need to get fancy-schmancy unless that’s what you want, and a simple page with location, phone number, and business hours can be enough to get you started.
Whichever route you choose to take, be it build your own or hire a professional, here’s a checklist to help you create an effective, traffic-driving auto shop website.
Before You Build
1. Choose Your Domain Name
A well-thought-out domain name is critical to your marketing and advertising. It’s as essential to your branding as your logo! You want something that fits your style and brand, and in most cases, will be the name of your auto shop. For example, WWW.ALLENAUTOMOTIVE.COM. If you’re unsure where to begin when choosing your domain name, and could use a few pointers, we wrote a blog all about it. Note, when printing your domain name on advertising, it helps to capitalize each letter to make it easier to read and remember.
Domain registration is crucial because it gives your identity on the web. It’s your online address and tells people where they can find you, just like your auto shop’s address tells people of your physical location.
2. Pick a Host
Simply put, a web host is a company that will store your website’s files on its servers and delivers them to your viewer’s web browser.
Some companies, like GoDaddy, offer both domain registration and hosting. But if you’re just looking for a host, here’s a list of web hosting providers that we found to provide excellent service and affordability.
3. Outline your Web Pages
After you have a domain name and host, you can begin to plan out what pages will be on your website. You don’t want your viewers to have to dig for information. If a page is essential, be sure to list it in the main navigation bar and the footer.
Your website doesn’t need to have tons of pages or be overly complicated. However, there are a few pages every auto shop website should include:
- Home page – This is your first impression. Explain who you are and what makes you different. If you’re running any specials, it would be good to mention them here.
- Service or product pages – Include the major services and products your auto shop offers.
- Contact page- List any information for how customers can reach you. You may want to include an online form, phone number, address, hours, and Google map.
How to Build
4. Choose a Website Builder
Now that you’ve figured out what types of pages you want to include on your auto shop website, it’ll help you decide how you want to build it. Here are some options that you have:
DIY Website Builder
Building a website doesn’t have to be complicated. There are templates and drag and drop builders that allow you to create a website quickly. You should see what your web host offers first because they may include builders with your hosting plan. But for a look at some of the most popular site builders, here’s what we found:
Freelance Web Designer
If you don’t want to take the time to build the website yourself, then you can hire a freelance designer to do it for you. You’ll still be in control of the design, but this is a good option if you just don’t have time to spare. You can search for a freelance designer through sites like 99 Designs or Upwork, but be sure to ask for references and a portfolio.
Although this option is the costliest, it may be well worth it. Someone will be doing all the work for you, and the result will be a creative website completed quickly and efficiently. If you hire a web design agency or professional designer, a basic website could cost between $2000-$5000. There are even companies that specialize in building websites for auto repair shops, like www.repairshopwebsites.com.
5. Create Content
At this point, you know what pages you want and how you’re going to build your website. But what about the content that you’re going to put on it? When writing content, there are two audiences to consider:
Think about the information that your customers might want to see when searching for an auto shop and visiting your website. Some content that an auto shop may wish to include is:
- List of Repair Services
- Specials or Coupons
- Appointment Request
- Photos of your Auto Shop & Staff
- List of Affiliations
- Vehicle Tips
- Automotive News or Blogs
If you need more ideas on what content to include on your auto shop website, check out this list.
After you’ve decided what information to include for your customers, you also need content to make sure search engines like Google find your auto shop website. Start with your NAP, or Name, Address, and phone number. Make sure that this information is accurate and kept up-to-date.
A website is necessary as a signal for trust as much as having excellent service. But the second audience for your site is search engines like Google. They “read” your site and decide when and where it will show up in the rankings. Making your site more readable for Google and all the other search engines is called Search Engine Optimization. Keywords (meaning specific phrases that are repeated on your site) play an important role in SEO, and whether you choose to include blog posts or not, keywords should be consistent and geared toward what people will type in when they search for your shop.
Getting your auto shop website to the top of the search results page is no small feat, so make sure your content is written for your primary readers first; your customers.
If you want to go to the next level of SEO, there are SEO tools available to optimize your site. Some SEO tools are even built into the web builders themselves to help guide you through search engine optimization for each page.
6. Preview & Test
As you build your website, preview it in different modes to see what it looks like on mobile and desktop. You can then make adjustments to ensure your web pages look good with whatever type of device it’s viewed.
Make sure everything works, like links, and if images load in good time. To make sure everything is good-to-go, check out tools like the HubSpot website grader. It will evaluate your website and provide recommendations if improvements are needed.
Another thing to test is how you will be notified when a lead fills out a form. Certain website builders have this functionality already built-in, but others may require you to connect your website to a CRM. For example, when a lead fills out a contact form, their information goes directly into a system where you can view and manage the data they submitted, the website pages they looked at, and their completed forms. Check out this list of CRM systems.
You did it. It’s time to go live!
After You Build
8. Promote Your Website
Now that your auto shop website is up and running, it’s time to let the world know. Here are a few places where you can make the big announcement and add the URL for your website:
- Google Listing (Learn to do that here.)
- Social Media
- Marketing Materials- Business Cards and Collateral
- Email Signatures
- Internal and External Signage
9. Sign up for Google Analytics
If you want to know how effective your new auto shop website is at getting traffic, you can set up a Google Analytics account to see who’s visiting your site. The tool is free, but it isn’t the most user-friendly one in the world. When you’re able to view this data, you can see which pages are performing best and which ones may need some work.
After your physical location, your website will be your auto shop’s second home providing a place for your customers to find information about your products and services 24 hours a day. Launching the website is just the beginning. Try to keep your content updated so that when customers find your website, it’s the most accurate representation of your auto shop.
No matter how simple or basic, a website is crucial to the success of your auto shop. Luckily, by using the tools and checklist above, you can be on your way to connecting with potential customers online within a short time.