This article will show best practices around Google Ad strategies for fixed ops. The goal will be to show you what specific strategies work to advertise your website to get more service business. We’ll cover SEM (search engine marketing, i.e. Google Ads). We start with a brief overview of each strategy and then dive into the tactics for fixed ops.
SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is the practice of buying ads on Google. What makes Google ads different from regular ads on the internet is that they are shown based on the keywords that the user types in. Advertisers decide which keywords they want their ads to show on by creating a bid for each keyword, e.g. paying $1.50 a click for “ford f150 repair”. The advertiser is charged only when a user clicks on their ad. Google decides which ad to show first based on the Ad Rank. The ad rank has two components: 1) how much an advertiser is willing to bid for a keyword, and 2) how relevant their ad is to that keyword. Google’s goal is to show users the most relevant ads for their keyword searches. How does all this play out in fixed ops? We found there were several strategies that worked well:
Generic Strategies: These are centered around searches for car repair, mechanic, etc. This category has the most search volume and competition. You can win in this strategy if you service most vehicle types.
Brand focused: These are searches around specific car brands and types, e.g. BMW repair. These should definitely be part of your search strategy if you have a specialization in a brand or type of vehicles (European, Diesel, Highline etc.). These keywords have less volume but can convert well if you have a strong specialty in a vehicle brand. Here is the volume for BMW repair.
Symptom – Symptoms are anything that a customer might see, hear or feel about their car. For example, “brakes squeaking” or “shaking steering wheel”. These keywords are lower volume, but also less competitive.
This strategy can be effective if your ad mentions the symptom, and explains that your repair shop has expertise in fixing it. Your landing page should also mention the symptom, common causes and error codes, and that you can fix the problem. This will to let the customer know they are in the right place. Now, you might ask, how to create a landing page for each symptom that exists? We’ve found it most practical to create parametric landing pages, where the ad text and the landing page adjust to mention the specific symptom the person is searching for.
Service – Finally, you can advertise on specific services you perform. We’ve found these can be very profitable, if you know your labor rates and which services are most profitable for you. These are lower volume searches, but they are less competitive, and if you have a relevant landing page you can do well.
In addition to the strategies touched on above, we can go more in depth on what makes for a good SEM ad. In general, focus on indicators of trust, quality, and value based pricing (high value for price). Here are a few to consider:
“In business since [Year]” “In business over 20 years”
“MAKE certified technicians” (e.g. BMW Certified)
“Over 200 Five Star Reviews”
“Our techs have 10+ years of training”
Google now also offers “ad extensions” which show additional information on your ad. The ones that are the most useful to your customers are:
- Phone Number
- Star Ratings
- Sitelink Extensions. – Sitelinks are links to other areas of your site. Good sitelinks to add are links to your hours & location, services you provide, makes that you service, and discounts/specials you’re offering
This is an example of a great car service ad. It is targeted at both the location (Berkeley, CA) and a type of car (Mercedes). It includes two important trust signals: this dealer has ASE certified technicians, and is a Bosch service center. It also mentions they have 5 star reviews. Here it would be more helpful to list how many they have (e.g. over 100). The sitelink extensions are also useful: It tells customers how to get directions, make an appointment, see specials, and see a list of their services.
Here are some other very good, focused ads around BMW repair:
You can see that Google automatically highlights the words “BMW” and “service” in the ads, so you want to make sure that your ads use the keywords that you’re bidding on. I’ve also highlighted elements that build trust: showing a phone number, showing a price, listing specials, listing the city you serve, mentioning your 5 star reviews, and showing that you have qualified technicians.
Landing Page Strategy
Just as important as your keywords and your ad is your landing page. The job of the landing page is to show your customers that 1) you know what they are looking for, 2) you are qualified to do the repair.
Here’s an example of a very focused BMW service landing page. It clearly lets the customer know that this company specializes in BMW repair. Note that it identifies the city it serves (San Mateo), which lets the customer know that it’s in their area. Generally, customers don’t like to drive more than 5 miles from their house to get to a repair shop. It has a single, strong call-to-action (CTA): “Schedule Today”
Here’s another example of a strong landing page:
It clearly lists the name of the shop in the top left, and the phone number and address at the top right and in the middle, as well as the hours the shop is open. While obvious, these items: name, address, phone and hours, are crucial to make it easy for your customer to get to you.
Additionally, the text on the page is very important in telling both your customers and Google’s ad engine that your page is relevant. The first paragraph some of the more popular Honda models they service. The second paragraph lists some of the common repairs they do.
Finally, a nice touch is the online chat room. This is a good way for customers to get common questions answered quickly without disturbing your techs from talking to their customers.
That was a good example of generic landing page that can be used to match with most keywords a customer types in. A more advanced strategy which can have higher conversion rate is to have a parametric landing page that adjusts based on the customer’s search, like this:
We can see that this page is clearly targeting people looking to get their batteries replaced in San Mateo. They also show a price estimate, which in our experience, increases the rate of calls & appointments. Last, this company shows their ratings and reviews. If you have ratings and reviews from Google, adding those to your landing page will help you build trust and increase calls.
Going a bit deeper, you can see that they list out the name of a specific tech, and mention that he has 9 years of experience. The more details you can give about your team and their experience that relates to the repair the customer is looking for, the better your landing page will convert.
Finally, it’s important that your website be mobile friendly, as 60-70% of your traffic will be from customers browsing from their phone. Since there is less space available on the phone, the key insight here is to make sure that key information like your name, address, phone, hours and ratings are on the first screen the customer sees. On a phone, one crucial difference to your page is that there should be a phone button or phone link that customers can press to call you. Also important is that your page load quickly, as customers are impatient. Here’s an example with some key elements highlighted:
Russell Miller owns Zavient, an automotive digital marketing agency that has 7+ years of experience in fixed ops marketing. He has worked on national campaigns for CarMax, YourMechanic, RepairPal and others. https://zavient.com/auto/