How Do Consumers Search for Auto Repair Shops Online?

Sep 26, 2023

There is a lot of confusion among auto repair shop owners about how consumers search for auto repair services on the web. Our goal in this blog is to clear up the confusion and help you understand how most consumers search for auto repair services so you can better understand how your website is performing in search.

People don’t use your city when they are searching for auto repair in your area

This is a common misunderstanding. If you are in Raleigh, North Carolina, people are very rarely searching for “auto repair Raleigh”. Yet the first thing some advisors will do to see how your website is searching is type in “auto repair Raleigh” into their search bar.

Many years ago, geomodifying your search to include the city or town was necessary. Now, Google assumes every search for auto repair services is local and most searchers know that, so they just use “auto repair” or “auto repair near me” and Google automatically returns the results for shops in their area.

The same is true for “auto repair shop”, “bmw repair”, “car repair”, “brake repair” and all other auto repair related searches. These are all searches that are most often conducted without the modifier of a town or city by consumers in your area who are true potential customers.

It’s also important to note that a search in Chicago for “auto repair Raleigh” will not return the same results that somebody searching for “auto repair” in Raleigh will see. The most accurate way to determine what a potential customer will see if they are in Raleigh is to conduct the search in Raleigh or find a way to change your web browser’s location to make it seem like you are in Raleigh.

1 in 3 clicks will be in the Local Pack

I’ve included an image of what the Local Pack is below. If you’d like more detailed information, please read our blog “What Is the Local Pack and Why Does It Matter for Auto Repair Shops?”.

Brightlocal conducted the best study of how people make their choices for local services in search results back in 2018. In that study they found that almost 33 percent of clicks go to the Local Pack. That means that roughly one out of every three people who are searching for auto repair services are going to contact at least one of the shops that shows up in the Local Pack.

Local Pack results are not driven by your website

That’s right – your website does not drive how your shop is represented in the Local Pack. Your Google Business Profile does.

How close your shop is to the person searching essentially has the biggest impact on where you show up in the Local Pack. That’s why you might appear in the #1 slot at a location close to your shop but not show up at all when you check from a McDonald’s across town.

Why does Google do it that way? Because their data shows that when people conduct local searches for local services they are looking for the shops that are closest to them.

Technically industry experts believe that the primary category of the Google Business Profile is the number one factor. However, primary categories are large and all of your competitors likely have Auto Repair Shop chosen just like you so there’s no way to differentiate your shop there.

With all of that being said, an important takeaway here is that there is not a lot you can do to influence where you show up in the Local Pack.

How do potential customers decide who to choose in the Local Pack?

While you can’t control where you show up in the Local Pack, you definitely have some control over the number one factor for customers in choosing who to call – reviews.

According to the Whitespark 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors survey “High Numerical Google Ratings” is the number one factor for consumers when they are deciding what local businesses to contact. In fact, reviews are included as four of the top five factors. For more information, see our blog “How Google Reviews Win You Business”.

We’ve said it for years – be sure that you are consistently requesting reviews from happy customers!

More than 50% of clicks will happen in the organic results

The study from Brightlocal that I referenced earlier showed that more than 50% of clicks happened in the organic search results. The organic search results show up underneath the Local Pack on the search engine results page. See picture below.

Your website drives your organic search results

Where you show up in the organic search results is determined by how well your website is optimized. So your website is responsible for your organic search results.

It is important to note that there are several factors involved in how well your website searches. One important one is time. If you have a new website or maybe you just switched from having a homemade website to using a professional company, you should allow for three to six months ramp up time before judging your results.

If you want to dive into the most important factors that the experts believe are responsible for how well your website searches, I encourage you to check out Whitespark’s 2023 Local Organic Ranking Factors.

Here’s how to tell how well your website is searching

The good news for you is that it’s not that hard to check how well your website is ranking in your city. Go to a few different locations in your city. Bring your laptop or mobile phone. Open up an incognito or private browser and search for “auto repair” or “auto repair near me”. Of course, you can repeat the process using whatever keywords are important to you. You should open a new incognito browser tab each time you conduct a new search

Remember, your website drives your organic results, so be sure to scroll down to the organic results to see where your website shows up. The Local Pack is determined by your Google Business Profile so that is not an accurate way to determine how well your website is performing.

If you are showing up on the first page for key search terms, that is really good. If you are showing up on the third page or below, you may want to look at making some adjustments to improve your results.

Want to see how your website is searching in neighboring towns? You can conduct the same test by going to those towns and running the searches.

If you have any questions about anything mentioned here, please feel free to reach out to me at