April 30, 2017
Wouldn’t you be thrilled to see your driving school rank #1 on Google?
You’re completely versed with state regulations, compliance issues, and such. However, when it comes to Google rank, SEO, PPC, analytics – you’re LOST. In fact, you’re not only lost, but Google seems to exist in an entirely different galaxy. You think Google experts are like Martians that communicate with their own language.
Is it even remotely possible that the average driving school owner can get their business ranked #1 on Google, the MacDaddy of all search engines?
The easy answer is “yes.” The more candid answer is “probably, but a lot of time and effort will be required.” Finding the right formula to help your driving school rank #1 on Google can be tricky. I know this for a fact because I went through five years of trial and error before I saw my own driving school rank #1 on Google. If I can do it, you can too. Just follow my advice to save a ton of wasted time and major aggravation.
Google success and SEO (search engine optimization) go together like peanut butter and jelly. Your business can’t rank high in a Google search without making a true effort to improve your SEO. Before you scratch your head and stop reading this article because it all sounds too technical, let’s break down the mountain trek into workable steps that you can take over time. Now is not the time to get discouraged.
Now is the time to get motivated! Say after me…”I can do this. I can do this. I WILL do this!” Good, now let’s start breaking down that mountain.
Create a Website
If you already have a website for your driving school, great! Right? Um, that depends.
- Does it look like it was created in the 80s or 90s?
- Is it optimized for mobile?
- Can your customers place their orders on it?
If you answered no to one or more of these questions, your website needs some updating so that it can help your driving school rank #1 on Google.
From my own experience, I discovered that a website is like a marriage. You must give it time and attention. My original website from 2009 was OK, but nothing truly unique or special. So, I created a new website and launched in 2012. I hired a local graphic designer to create a brand image using original illustrations. It was set-up for e-commerce. It was the BOMB and I was very proud of it.
Fast forward to four years later. My new website didn’t receive much love or attention, so it became slow and obsolete way too quickly. Every time I wanted to make an improvement, my designer came through for me. But because our host was also not changing with the times, our website started to perform less and less.
Eventually, my website was like a house of cards. We kept putting on Band-Aids, but the wound was a slow bleed. After four years, I was forced to start from scratch and design yet another website.
Pick the Right Content Management System
This time, I chose to use WordPress for my CMS (Content Management System).
More than 72 million websites use WordPress – that’s 25% of ALL websites. Because of this, Google now recognizes SEO on WordPress websites over others. Plus, WordPress offers thousands of plug-ins, making it easier to analyze your site and make changes. Its simple interface is easy (“ish”) to learn. This means you’ll save time and money once you get past the learning curve.
Now, the website is user-friendly, fast, and optimized for expansion. When I opened more locations, my designer can quickly and easily add new individual pages for new locations. If you’re building a new website or thinking of upgrading your current one, I highly recommend WordPress.
If you still need more reasons to use WordPress, check out this article from Here Next Year.
Help People Find Your Website
Your website might be the best darned one you’ve ever seen, but if other people can’t see it too, you’re dead in the water.
The “road map” that facilitates how people find your website is SEO (which stands for search engine optimization). If you’re Googling your driving school, but you don’t show up on the first page of search results, the problems could be technical, content related, or both. These issues will not let your driving school rank #1 on Google.
Many small business owners claim that they’re not recognized by Google at all. This might not be the case. Your driving school may just rank so poorly with Google that it doesn’t show up.
Google’s magic happens when you type in something in the search bar and something 100% relevant, local and meaningful shows up. Your own website should include relevant keywords like “driving school,” “drivers ed,” “driving lessons,” etc. on the appropriate pages.
If you think you’re utilizing the correct keywords, you should also add relevant H1 and H2 tags and descriptions. OK, am I losing you here? It may sound complicated, but improving your on-page SEO isn’t THAT difficult. It just requires an open mind and a dose of patience.
Software and options to improve SEO
Software is especially important and useful when trying to improve your on-page SEO. I personally like SEMRush. This SEO tool will perform an audit of your website to help you determine its overall health and performance. You’ll get a clear picture of any technical issues and suggestions about how to fix them. SEMRush is a subscription service, so there is a monthly cost of $99.95. However, it could potentially generate thousands of dollars of additional monthly revenue, so it’s worth it.
Pro tip: Open a SEMRush account, audit your website and then cancel 🙂
Your other option would be to hire a local agency that specializes in SEO for small businesses. Simply type in “SEO agencies near me” in a Google search bar to uncover a bank of resources. However, if you’re patient and willing to learn, you can do-it-yourself.
Produce Content People Want to Read
When you initially launch a new website, people find you by coming through your front door. To truly increase traffic, you’ll need to open more windows and doors to get into your website. These are called “portals.” One way to open a new portal is to start a blog on your website.
Content-driven blogs really do work, but yes – they take time. However, the end result is worth the extra effort.
Blogging increases website traffic
We started blogging in 2014. After a year’s worth of posts (about 2-3 per month), our website visitation increased by more than 100%. I’m not kidding. Our traffic has increased by about the same percentage each and every year. We gear our blog posts towards parents and offer advice on helping new teen drivers, the dangers of distractions, etc. We’d post 2-3 times per month and use a formula of two “evergreen” posts plus one “newsworthy” one. Most of our posts are 500-800 words in length, but at least once per month we will post an in-depth 2,000-word article. If you don’t like to write, consider using an outside resource like Upwork.com.
Business.com uses this analogy to explain how blog posts can increase website traffic and revenue…
- Think of blog posts as seeds that you throw out for hungry birds. The more seed you throw, the more birds will come. Every post you publish is another handful of seeds for birds to find.
- And the more birds who come, the more birds there are who share what you have written with others; and the more that others post links back to your blog, the more chance there is for your pages to rank for keyword searches that potential customers conduct.
The whole point of having a business is to attract customers and increase profits. Current research shows that 60 percent of businesses that blog acquire more customers than those that do not. It’s a no-brainer. Start blogging to help your driving school rank #1 on Google.
Consider PPC Advertising
If you’re still reading this – congratulations! Your brain hasn’t exploded, despite an arsenal of info being thrown at you. That means you’re a serious business owner who wants to improve your driving school. Just by seriously reading this, you’re on the right path.
Another avenue to drive more traffic to your website (and ultimately increase your sales) is PPC advertising. PPC stands for pay-per-click. Organic traffic is what your website gets over time. You can increase organic traffic by improving your SEO, but the results will be slow. PPC ads can be launched quickly and the results can be very impressive. We ran a variety of PPC ads with an average budget of $1,000 per month. We pull in $17-$25 in sales for every $1 we spend on Google PPC.
Types of Google PPC ads
There are many different types of PPC ads, but the two most popular on Google are search and display. Driving schools are local, so the search ad option will produce the best results. When a potential customer types in “driving schools” or “driving schools near me,” your paid search ad should display on the first page.
If you choose the right keywords and link to a highly relevant page of your website, you could even pop up as the #1 search result on Google. I know this from personal experience. When it does, it’s like winning the lottery. The Powerball lottery! It was thrilling the first time I saw my driving school rank #1 on Google.
Google PPC training courses
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the learning curve for PPC advertising is somewhat steep. But, not too steep that you can’t do it on your own. Google offers an online course. It’s broken into six sections: AdWords Fundamentals, Search Advertising, Display Advertising, Mobile Advertising, Video Advertising, and Shop Advertising.
If you can pass two of the exams, you’ll become a Certified AdWords Expert. I highly recommend that you take the Fundamentals and Search courses. Once you pass the exams, you’ll need to take a refresher course once a year to maintain your certification. It will be worth your time and effort! Once you’re certified, you’ll know the in’s and outs of Google PPC advertising and how to maximize your budget.
Monitor your Website and Ads
So far, I have given you useful tools to put in your toolbox. However, the monster tool is Google Analytics. The best news is that’s it’s 100% free. After embedding a snippet of code on your web pages, you’ll be able to track information about how visitors find your site, how they interact with it, the demographics of your customers, and so much more!
- What keywords did a visitor type in to their Google search bar?
- Where did they come from? What device did they use?
- What time of day do most visitors come to your site?
- Which pages do they click on the most?
This is powerful data that can help you make critical decisions. Data is a driving force to help your driving school rank #1 on Google.
Google Analytics training course
Google Analytics is quite complex, but the information generated from the reports is SO valuable. Like it does for AdWords, Google offers an online course/certification program. The course and exam are much easier to understand and pass than AdWords. Once you’re armed with the basics of understanding Google Analytics, you’ll be able to pull custom reports for your driving school.
Instead of assuming who your customers are and where they come from, you’ll have hard data facts and figures to help you make marketing and operating decisions. This knowledge will go a long, long way to increase your sales and profitability. If you’re not using Google Analytics, you’re missing the boat. I guarantee your competition is! It’s the perfect tool to help your driving school rank #1 on Google.
Go Social to help your driving school rank #1 on Google!
About six years ago, teens used Facebook regularly. Then, something strange happened. Parents took it over, so kids were forced to find other social outlets like Instagram and Snapchat. But, guess what? Parents (especially moms) use Facebook regularly. And, who pays for your driving school services?
In our case, 80% of our paying customers are moms. That’s why we decided that Facebook was the perfect advertising vehicle to promote our driving school.
The first step is to create a Facebook page for your driving school. It must be tied to a personal account. Add a description of your school, photos, your address, hours of operation, and more. Then, begin making meaningful posts several times per week. Link to newsworthy articles that your parents will find value in reading. Include driving tips. Plus, if you are blogging, post every new blog article on Facebook. Over time, your “likes” will increase. And it doesn’t cost a penny!
After creating Facebook pages for each of our locations, we took it a step further. We began advertising on Facebook and it has worked like a charm. The biggest benefit is that it is a lot cheaper than Google PPC. Plus, you can use extreme targeting methods to reach your EXACT customer. Facebook is a GREAT tool to help your driving school rank #1 on Google!
So, that’s all there is to it! You’re probably thinking “ALL?” That’s a lot. Yes, it is. But it’s worth it. If your driving school can land in Google’s #1 position, your sales will soar. It happened to my driving schools and it can happen to yours too. Best wishes on watching your driving school rank #1 on Google!