A common roadblock many carwash owners encounter is that they rush out and build a Web site for their company and then are shocked that their business does not increase as a result. This common misunderstanding in Internet marketing is shared by many businesses worldwide, not just carwashes. There are a number of factors that play into the success and profitability of Internet marketing beyond just having a Web site.
A site that provides only basic information, such as address, phone, hours of operation and location information, is nothing more than a glorified Internet Yellow Pages ad. Instead, your Web site should be the foundation on which you will build your carwash’s Internet marketing campaign. Its basic framework should be a destination where customers can visit to learn about your business and participate in promotions and incentive programs.
Your Web site should clearly identify your wash branding and provide helpful information for visiting customers. At the very least, it will need to tell customers how to find the carwash, contact the wash staff, and display what carwash services are available. Many carwash Web sites also provide additional content such as “reasons for professionally washing your car” and “environmental benefits to washing at a carwash.”
The most basic information contained on the Web site should provide answers to the classic questions: who, what, how and why? Who does your business pertain to? What exactly does your business do? How do customers find your business? Why should customers choose your business?
When building or evaluating your business Web site, it is just as important to know what works as it does to understand which potholes to avoid when navigating the Internet super highway.
Internet Rankings – It is extremely important for existing and potential customers to be able to find your carwash online when using one of the primary Internet search engines. They should see your carwash listed when they type in “car wash” followed by a city name in which you are located. If your carwash is not visible during online searches, you stand to risk losing potential customers to nearby competitors.
Search engine optimization has become very sophisticated as businesses compete online to grab user traffic. It can get quite complicated and technical, but suffice to say that the basic text on your Web site’s home page should be displayed in standard HTML text. Avoid embedding important business information into images or fancy Flash or Java graphics and animations.
The reason why is search engines, such as Google or Yahoo!, cannot “read/search for” important keywords on a Web site if the information does not display in plain HTML somewhere on the site. One advantage to having a site professionally built for you, as opposed to having your cousin or nephew do it, is that a professional should understand how to construct a site and optimize it so that it works for your business, and not just look pretty.
There is much more to optimization and search engine strategies, including advertising through Google AdWords, but getting your basic content in order on your Web site is an excellent place to start.
|An example of a Google Maps search result looking for nearby carwashes using a GPS-enabled smart phone.|
Register with the Google Maps Local Business Center– In order to be found, you have to be seen. Research tells us that more than 84 percent of younger consumers (18-34) prefer searching for services using the Internet, rather than looking through a conventional telephone directory. In a study released last year by WebVisible and Nielsen, and reported on by Marketing Charts, 50 percent of those surveyed say search engines are the first place they look to find local business services, compared to just 24 percent who first choose printed Yellow Pages directories.
If you expect the GPS generation to find your business, then make sure you are registered with the Local Business Center on Google Maps. This is an outstanding service that populates a user-generated map with business locations that match the specified search criteria. By being listed in the database, potential customers may discover that your carwash is the closest facility to their current location when they perform a “find me the closest carwash” search on their GPS navigation device or GPS-enabled smart phone, such as a BlackBerry or iPhone.
If your business is not listed you most likely are losing out on a major opportunity to bring in new (or the nearest) customers to you.
Register with Your Local Online Yellow Pages – Every town has some form of Yellow Pages advertising available to them. I’m not referring to the printed paper book that is commonly used as a door stop or booster chair. Instead, I’m talking about the online offerings, such as DexKnows.com and Yellowpages.com. Online local listings can really boost your business.
Not only can being on these sites help the visibility of your business during searches performed by consumers using them to find local businesses, you also can benefit greatly from the additional Google traffic and search