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Local SEO Basics for Auto Repair Shops
by David Roman

Local SEO is Different

In a previous post, I wrote about the three different types of search intent.

Local SEO focuses on navigational intent with the specific goal of increasing a prospect's "interactions" with your shop.

What's an "interaction"?

Note the picture below. The red arrow is pointing to a few possible interactions a prospect can have with you.

This includes getting a quote, getting directions, reading through your GMB posts, or looking at the pictures posted. There are three different categories of Local SEO strategies. There are strategies for:

Brick & Mortar Businesses
Service-Based Businesses
Home-Based Businesses

Brick & Mortar Businesses have their own challenges when it comes to Local SEO. For example, a B&M Business's reach is limited to their immediate location. This makes it difficult to show up in SERPs outside of what Google deems to be your service area. Regardless, it is incredibly important how you show up when people search for what you provide. Everything should be geared towards increasing meaningful interactions.

Listing and PropagationA business's listing is often called their "NAP" or:

Phone Number

It is their essential information, including their NAP, but also includes images, type of business, and review quality and count. This information is entered into something like Google My Business (GMB), but will also get entered into places like Facebook, Yelp, etc. This information then gets propagated among different directories and data aggregators across the entire internet.

Consistency and accuracy are incredibly important here. Having duplicate listings or inaccurate information under address or phone number will cause confusion with the search engine. From the search engine's point of view, seeing that there is a phone number that is wrong or that there's a difference in the address among the dozens of different directories online will cause the search engine to distrust the information. This could cause you to fall in the search rankings. So, what do you do to keep your listings accurate?


Duplicate information can be inadvertently entered by a customer who couldn't find your official listing or simply someone wanting to review your business.

Either way, when a duplicate listing is available, it puts you in direct competition with it.

Duplicates can also be created if there was a phone number change or address change. You can also run into combating a business that may have had your address previously and never bothered to delete their listing when they moved out.

This information can then end up getting conflated with a data aggregator, causing another inaccuracy.

What's more, there are dozens of different directories to check and data aggregators often require enterprise level accounts in order to make edits. Correcting inaccuracies can, therefore, be time-consuming or downright impossible.
So what do can you do?

Use a website like or to check your listings.

And if you're already paying for "SEO" through your website company and you find that there are several edits that need to be made, your next step is to call your SEO provider and be ready for an uncomfortable conversation.

You can also pay any one of several companies to fix your listings. But again, if you're already paying someone, it is best you hold them accountable.


In 2016, all hell broke loose.

The dreaded "near me" garbage became pivotal to ranking on local SERPs.

With Google's algorithm update (called Possom), proximity became key. "Near me" is now an extremely often used search term.

What does this mean to us as shop owners?

Even if you do everything well, your website is beautiful and it is perfectly optimized, you have fantastic reviews, and all your listings are accurate, you still may not show up in Google.

If you're not close enough to the person typing "near me", you won't show up in their search results.

This doesn't include geo-modified searches. That is, searches that include the name of the area you want to search.

Although you can't control where someone may be when they type in "near me", you CAN control how you show up in geo-modified searches.

You want to focus on ensuring you're sending every necessary signal to the search engines about the area you serve. This is especially true if you're near a populous area from which you pull customers, but are located outside of the said area.

For example, I'm in Merriam and only a few miles from Kansas City. If I wanted to show up for searches in Kansas City and not just Merriam, I would need to add content to my site that tells the search engines that I serve a wider area.

Note the examples I've included. They've added content to tell the search engines that they serve a very wide area.

The content, however, isn't just spamming the name of the town over and over again. They've added authoritative and engaging content designed to get people to spend time on their website. What's more, they've likely leveraged the content by submitting it to other sites who would then include the link on their own sites.

This is called a "backlink" and it is used by search engines to determine the legitimacy and authority of a website.



Reviews are usually left because someone wants to either support a business or warn others of their experience. I don't think there is any question as to the importance of reviews. But, how do we maximize the efficacy of reviews for the purpose of local SEO?

Review Quality & Count

Your local SEO rankings are affected by both the review count and the quality of your reviews. Interestingly, what has proven to be most important is the number of positive reviews. Although there is little you can do about someone leaving you a bad review, a constant influx of 5-star reviews is critical. It will help you maintain an overall high score while burying the bad reviews.

Review Recency 

In addition to helping in other areas, ensuring a constant influx of new reviews tells the search engines that you are open and actively engaging with your customers. It also has a huge impact on a prospect's buying decision. I've included a survey conducted by Bright Local. It shows that reviews that are less than 2 weeks old have the most impact on someone's decision to move forward. What do they typically do next? They either check other reviews to "validate" the reviews they had just read or click through to your website.

The moral of the story?

Put in a system that ensures an opportunity to receive feedback from your customers while reaching out to get reviews from happy customers consistently.

Dealing With 1-Star Reviews

1-Star reviews are going to happen.

But, mitigation of the damage caused by a bad review can be done when you reply to the review. has a fantastic formula that I encourage you to use.

Start With Your Mindset

Don't take bad reviews personally. You're responding for your "brand", not to a personal attack. Your reply should reflect a certain amount of professionalism and de-personalization. Remember to be empathic. Try to understand things from their point of view. Stephen Covey had the principle "Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood" as one of his 7 habits. Show that you care by being proactive. Handle the situation instead of getting defensive. There are always things that can be improved.

Follow A Formula

Follow a specific formula that will allow you to respond to bad reviews in a consistent manner.

Greeting - Name the person leaving the review.
Explanation - Apologize for and validate the person's experience, taking responsibility for whatever it is that caused them to leave a bad review. Explain what happened (in a NON-accusatory fashion), which will provide context to their experience.
Encouragement - Thank them for the feedback and state the steps you'll take to ensure the mistake (or supposed mistake) won't happen again. If applicable, encourage them to return or even incentivize it.

Signature - Sign off by apologizing again and leave your name and position with the company. This adds a personal touch to the reply and shows others that there are real humans behind the brand.

About The Author
David Roman

David has spent 20 years in the automotive industry, having successfully managed several multi-million dollar retail parts stores in Illinois, the St. Louis area, and eventually Kansas City.

He's owned his shop since 2012.

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