Working with Maaco Auto Body Shop has shown how local focus can improve national rankings (and vice versa.) Maaco is arguably the nation’s most recognizable auto body repair shop and car painting company, with a national footprint from decades of commercial advertising and customer service success at the local level. How to balance their national branding with local marketing in a digital world is complex.
Location Services Targeting. Local. Local. Local.
It’s well-known in 2021 that local marketing is king when it comes to digital. Google wants to deliver the best results to users and Google knows through decades of data that users want local services when they’re Googling (the preeminence and explosion in the SEO world of “near me” speaks to this trend that evidence suggests is a fact.)
But this complicates the digital picture of some service-based businesses with both local and national footprints. Should websites focus on one over the other? Would the balance need to be 50/50? How will conversion rate play into this decision indepdently of traffic volume differences? These are not easy questions, but as always, the data needs to lead the way.
The complicating factor: GPS and user locations
Perhaps the first (and potentially most important) piece of the puzzle is how exactly users are digesting these pages in the first place, both in terms of their physical device (think mobile vs desktop vs tablet) but also in their browser, operating system and privacy settings (some browsers like Firefox block all geo tracking, pushing more users into national pages, and some carriers and operating systems have differing levels of privacy settings that can alter geographical targeting).
If a user’s geo location is available, Maaco.com is able to market their auto body services from their location-level pages. Search engines like Google recognize where the user is and will attempt to serve a local page. However, if the user’s location is unknown, it’s more likely that Google would serve a Maaco general auto body repair page from their national general services section. This shows how Google and search engines can alter their presentation of a website based on exactly what they know about the user. It also shows how Maaco might potentially work within this digital setup to maximize their local footprint without losing a national branding.
Auto Body Service: Local, Near Me, or not?
Near me or not near me, that is the question. In other words, what about the user’s actual intent, regardless of what we know about the user’s location?
This can depend on the market. In the case of Maaco.com, the auto body repair space and car painting franchises, Google clearly favors local businesses. This is interesting for franchise companies like Maaco that occupy both spaces, both an auto repair company on the national scale but with local franchises that have a footprint in the community, known for car painting services and paint jobs at a local level in their city and regional area.
Maaco.com and XIVIC has seen serious growth in their local search in the US, both by focusing on their local digital presence but also by balancing it appropriately with the national pages, taking into account the precise device, location and (maybe most importantly) actual intent of their car paint and auto body repair customers.