How to Evaluate Your Auto Repair Shop’s Website
Whether you launched your auto repair shop’s website before Google became the most popular search engine in the world (2010), or you recently launched a responsive website to better serve the growing number of mobile and tablet users visiting your website, it’s a good idea to regularly review the health of your auto repair shop’s website to better understand the factors Google and other search engines use to determine how to rank your Web pages against the keywords and phrases consumers use to search for auto repair services in your local area.
I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t understand any of this website stuff, how could I possibly evaluate the performance of my website without expert help?” Fortunately for auto repair shops like yours, there are a number of free tools available online that scan and grade your website – which provide you with an easy-to-understand evaluation of your website’s performance. Armed with this information, you can ask your current or new website developer to implement these suggestions, or if you’re more technical, can start to implement these changes on your own.
These services are particularly useful for anyone managing your auto repair shop’s website, regardless of their current comfort level or knowledge about website and digital marketing topics. If you’re like most auto repair shops, your website and online marketing programs are among the largest marketing investments you make. It’s important that you get the best value and benefits from your investment possible.
There are literally hundreds of free and paid tools (typically offered for “free” by signing up for a free trial of the provider’s product) you can use to evaluate the performance of your website – and more importantly, to get free expert advice on what you need to change to boost the performance of your website. For the purposes of this post, we have selected seven of the best free tools we believe will be most useful for your auto repair shop (we haven’t included any of the “paid” or “free trial” tools available online). If you are a more sophisticated auto repair marketer who already uses some of the tools below, you may want to consider investing in a premium search engine marketing platform such as MOZ or SEMRush to take your search engine marketing efforts to the next level.
For now, we’ll assume most of our readers fall into the “beginner” or “novice” category when it comes to auto repair SEO and website optimization. Here are the seven of the best tools we have found for evaluating the performance of your auto repair website:
#1 – HubSpot’s Grader
HubSpot’s Grader Tool is one of the most popular free website scanner tools available online. Grader literally provides you with a grade of your website’s performance, along with a checklist of things you can do to easily improve your website’s performance, including optmizing the technical performance of your site, improving search engine rankings for your Web pages, or ensuring your website is optimized for mobile and tablet users. The Grader tool is a great place to start if you haven’t performed a website scan in the past. And as a bonus tip, make note of your initial website grade as the starting point for your SEO efforts. As you work through the recommendations provided by Grader and the other services provided below, you can come back and run the scan again to see how your efforts have improved your grade over time.
#2 – NAPAScan Website Diagnostic Tool for NAPA AutoCare Members
Is your shop a current NAPA AutoCare Member? You can use the free NAPAScan tool – a powerful Website Diagnostic Tool built specifically for NAPA AutoCare shops – to scan and evaluate your website. This tool provides similar results to Hubspot’s Grader tool, including specific recommendations for improving your shop’s search engine rankings for local auto repair-related searches, but tends to provide recommendations most-relevant to NAPA AutoCare Members. Not a NAPA AutoCare Member? You can still use the NAPAScan tool to evaluate the performance of your auto repair shop’s website, just keep in mind that the tool was developed specifically for NAPA AutoCare Members (NOTE: NAPAScan is a tool provided by CarCareCONNECT).
#3 – UpCity’s SEO Report Card
Honestly, you’ll get 90% of what you need to improve the performance of your shop’s website by using these first two tools. At the same time, we think it’s helpful to use multiple tools to compare and contrast the results, to home in on the most-common factors affecting the quality and performance of your website. Similar to HubSpot’s Grader and CarCareCONNECT’s NAPAScan too, UpCity’s SEO Report Card tool is a great supplemental resource for gathering another expert opinion on the things you should fix on your website to improve your performance.
#4 – FOUND’s SEO Audit Tool
Similar to the tools listed above, FOUND’s SEO Audit Tool provide a free, automated evaluation of your website with recommendations for improving the performance of your website. FOUND does tend to offer some more-technical SEO recommendations compared to the other free tools on this list, making it a good option for both beginner and advanced auto repair marketers.
#5 – Varvy’s SEO Tool
As one final recommendation to round out our list of free website diagnostic tools, Varvy’s SEO Tool provides you with a free analysis of your website’s performance, SEO, and mobile-friendly status. Varvy’s tool also includes some more-advanced recommendations in these areas, and is worth the time and effort of completing the form to obtain the complementary report.
#6 – Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile Friendly Test Tools – shifting gears from general website evaluation tools to tools for evaluating specific areas affecting the performance of your website, we recommend all of the resources provided in Google’s Webmaster Tools offering – a suite of services designed to help webmasters monitor and manage their websites (with an obvious emphasis on aligning your website with Google’s standards for website quality – the factors it uses to determine how to rank the pages of your website against the keywords and phrases consumers use to search for local auto repair services).
Two of the most powerful tools in Google’s Webmaster Tools include Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool, which provides you with data on how quickly your website pages load on mobile and desktop devices, and Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool tool, which tells you whether or not Google considers your website to be mobile-friendly. Google ranks mobile-friendly websites higher in search results – and when you consider most consumers are using mobile to search for local businesses, it’s more important than ever for your website to be mobile-friendly.
#7 – Check My Links Google Chrome Extension
As one final recommendation for Google Chrome users, you can use the Check My Links Google Chrome Extension to scan your website for broken links. If you’ve had your website up for a long time, it’s a good idea to scan your site for broken links (a broken link is a link to another website – or another section of your website – where the link no longer works). Google considers websites with a lot of broken links to be lower quality, because it suggests the website owner is not updating their website regularly. Finding and fixing broken links on your website is an effective way to boost or maintain higher search engine rankings for your pages.
Feeling Overwhelmed or Discouraged By the Results?
Whether you used one, a few or all of the seven tool recommendations above, you might be feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by all the things you now know could be improved on your website. Keep in mind, most of these services (Google is the exception) are provided by vendors who sell products and services to help you improve your website, SEO and overall online marketing results. As such, most of the tools skew negative, as they are intended to suggest anything and everything potentially broken with your current website.
The truth is, some of the factors highlighted in some of these reports will have little to no meaningful short-term impact on the ranking of your Web pages. At the same time, we would tell you that some of the recommendations should be considered as critical or high-priority updates to make. For example, if your website is NOT mobile-friendly, you need to fix that immediately. If you have a few broken links or duplicate meta data information, these are more ‘housekeeping’ items – you should do them, but they aren’t as important as the mobile-friendly factors. The best bet is to review these reports with your current website developer, who should be able to help you prioritize the critical versus “nice to have” improvements.
Would you give a customer the diagnostics report for her vehicle and expect her to go home and make the repairs? No, of course not. Similarly, you shouldn’t go home and attempt to make all the repairs on your website. Find an affordable website developer (even if it’s a friend or family member), a small local digital agency, or a provider of auto repair marketing solutions to help you out with the most complicated or confusing recommendations.
As a final thought, look at your online business like you look at your offline business. There are probably dozens of improvements you’d like to make to your shop, but you aren’t going to do them all overnight. Similarly, you don’t need to fix all of the factors summarized in your reports overnight either. Simply identify a few of the most-important improvements and start there. Monitor the performance of your website regularly to determine how your improvements affect your overall performance – and commit to making regular improvements at whatever pace works best for your auto repair shop.