Using Driving School Directory Advertising or Listing - Any Good?

Many newly qualified instructors will probably consider using one of the many Driving School Directories on the internet for marketing their services to potential clients, especially if they offer free listings.

I would always advice any driving instructor that their first step should be to have their own website for advertsing, as in the long run it is the best option for promoting your business.
Having said that, anyone who has read this marketing blog will know that your driving school website will not start working for you overnight, it takes time and some effort, so having something to kick start your online campaign is not a bad idea, so which directory, and what options?

Personally I don't believe any of the many driving school directories out there are doing you a favour even if they are offering free listings. They are out to make money be it via advertising or through the selling of premium listings to instructors who are trying to attract more learner drivers in these hard times, so you need to look carefully to make sure you chose the right one to go for.

Choosing a Driving school directory to list your business in.
There is no point in listing your business on a website that is not reaching your potential clients, so the first step to choosing a directory is a google search for your local area.
Take an example of a new ADI based in tamworth, a search for 'driving instructor tamworth', driving school tamworth' and 'driving lessons tamworth' reveals one directory in the top 5 spot, so this is your likely candidate to use.

Free or Paid Listing?

Using the directory found above, the only option I would consider using would be a paid listing, as it appears that free ones are arranged in alphabetical order, so unless your business name starts with A, you are at the bottom of the list.

Some directories do use a random/rotation feature for their free listings which means that entries are rotated each time the page loads, this is much fairer and better for all instructors, so consider using this type for free directory listing.

The paid listng in this directory doesn't seem to stand out from the other listings either through the use of different fonts or bold type face, so think about this when choosing a paid listing as you want people to notice your entry (this will obviously cost you more). Another thing you should look out for is do they link to your website (especially if they offer 'Do Follow' ones).

Traking your Listing
As always you need to track and performance test your online advertising campaign even if it is a free listing. The easiest way to do this is by using a unique phone number (PAYG SIMS and Mobiles are cheap). I would definately do this if I was paying for a listing (you can always ask a caller where they got your number from, but some simply say online, and you might not know where from), this will enable you to know what does and doesn't work, as I said earlier the directory owner wants to make money, so they will want you to renew any paid listing or convert a free one to paid, so only put your money into something that works (it takes money to make money).

At the end of the day, a well optimised and targeted website will always outperform a directory, so they should only be used as a stepping stone, get your own driving school website advertising your services and stop paying someone else.

More reading
Driving School Optimisation Expert.
Choosing driving school name.

Driving School Brand Marketing

I had a telephone call recently which reminded me of how important driving school car advertising is to the success of an instructor's business strategy.

I was called by the proprietor of an organisation that was prepared to offer me a driving school franchise for a weekly fee of just under £10, and that included the supply of pupils (headboard franchise). For a moment, it sounded like something I would be interested in (the owner apparently liked how I marketed myself on the internet, and thus was willing to give me such a good deal), after all while I know that NO franchise can guarantee pupil supply, but £10 a week was worth a risk taking, then the penny dropped, I'm going to have to use HIS roof sign on my car! Not another one of the those 5 lessons for £49 deals!

In effect I'm going to be advertising his school during every driving lesson and also paying him a fee for the privilege! It was now no longer looking like a good deal, especially when I looked up the school and noticed they had no presence in my local areas. So basically what the owner wanted was to build up a brand presence, and craftily wanted me to pay him at the same time.

This actually made me think of how important my brand was to me, especially as it is unique and I daily get hits on my website from people searching for the brand name on the internet.

So as a driving school owner do you have a unique brand name (John school of motoring is too common) and will someone seeing your car on the road unable to write down your number be able to find you on the internet, or will the business be picked up by a more established John or a more advertising savvy instructor? Food for though, maybe some of those funny driving school names do have a purpose after all.

Driving School SEO Expert

If you have been researching online driving school marketing with a website, you would have probably come across the term SEO expert, and some driving instructors seem to think they have a magical solution that will make their new website get to page one on google within a few days just because they are charging you a fee!

I was speaking to a franchised driving instructor the other day who was thinking about becoming independent in a couple of months, so I advised him to setup his own marketing driving school website now rather than waiting till he actually has made the transition, but he gave me all sorts of excuses why he shouldn't do that, and finally capped it with 'all I need to do once ready is to contact an SEO expert who will get my website up and running within a couple of days'!

Anyone can pass themselves off as an SEO expert in order to get your money, and they can even provide you with fancy website templates or even point you to other 'customers' they have helped to get onto page one of google for a particular search term, but the truth of the matter is that it takes time, effort and knowledge to gain an advantage over your competition in the search engine wars, and the earlier you start, the better it is for you and the more easy it is for your optimisation efforts to be rewarded.

Organisations like the AA, RED, BSM and the likes of LDC have been around for a very long time, have aged domain names that have earnt trust, are well known brand names and have thousands or even millions of links from a diverse range of internet websites, forums, blogs and even they still consult SEO companies to keep them at the top using various means backed by a large budget, so don't think you are just going to start overnight and dominate your local niche just because you are will to give some £250!

Over the last year and half or so that this blog has been in existence, I have shared various tips to help you as a driving instructor market your business not only online with a website or blog, but also off-line via your car, business cards and even enlisting the help of your current learner driver clients.

One thing that you will always note is that I mention hard work, consistency and a continual process. If you have some extra money that you want to give away, then send some my way, but there is no secret to becoming a sucessful business owner, time always has to take its toll, buy your driving school domain today, and get started, even if you have a franchise, I'm sure you would be happier turning away learners rather than hoping for more than is being provided. I am a SEO expert, and I have successful driving school in nw3 to prove it.

Online Driving School Marketing works for me!

It is almost 2 years since I registered a domain name and set about creating a new online driving school marketing website to demonstrate that you can attract new learner drivers inexpensively if you do a couple of simple things, are consistent and are willing to work on it (becoming a website geek is optional).

When I created the Hampstead driving school website, I had no clients in this area as it was a bit far from my home operating base and the effects of the current UK Economy downturn were not affecting learner driver income as it does today, so it was more of an experiment rather than a planned business expansion project, however I must confess that it has turned out to be blessing for me, as the increase in enquiries from this London post code has helped me maintain good income levels despite the economic woes, drop in lesson prices due to increased competition and fewer candidates demanding instructor tuition services.

My Hampstead driving school online marketing website is now consistently in the top 3 spot on google for the relevant terms (driving school, instructor, lessons, hampstead, nw3), it only has 11 pages of relevant articles and I don't have to do anything to it in terms of promotion, apart from referring new clients or students to it for informational purposes, and I am constantly getting enquiries from it (not all successfully converted, can't offer £15 lessons), but I get enough to make a difference, so my question to some of you who have read one or two of the articles I've written here is 'why haven't you done the same'?

4 Steps is all it takes:

Register your own domain name. Cost starts at less than £10 per year.

Create a Website for your driving school. Free to about £50 per year.

Create good quality articles for your website. Will require you to spend a few days thinking about/researching and then doing this (don't copy other people's articles and slightly modify, be creative).

Promote your website on Google and follow my advice by reading all the articles on this website. Don't be lazy, anytime not being used for driving lessons or administrative duties should be used for both online and offline marketing of your business, if you put the work in, you will reap the benefits.

Don't just think that offering cheap lesson prices is the quick solution to bringing in more pupils, there are a lot of clients out there who are willing to pay good money for your services, but you need to find them or be in a position for them to find you!

Free driving school advertising marketing website

Many ADIs or PDIs will be wondering if it is possible to use a completely free driving school website to market and advertise their instructor services online in a bid to get more learner drivers. Well the simple answer is yes, and I'll show you an example.

If you do a search on for 'driving lessons gloucester', you should find a website called 17+ Gloucester school of motoring

gloucester driving school ranking on google

This website is a completely free driving instructors marketing blog hosted on with no strings attached and appears on the first page of both driving lessons and driving instructor gloucester. While this might not be a pretty looking online presence, it proudly advertises the owners number and is doing better than some other prettier driving school marketing sites that might have cost 100s of pounds to create and maintain on a monthly basis.
The main disadvantage with this particular website case is that the driving school owner does not own the domain name which means he is stuck with if he wants to keep the current google ranking.

Now if you don't want to use a blog to market you instructor services, but prefer to use a more traditional website, are there any free webhosting resources you could try? Again the answer is yes, and a reader suggested a couple which I looked at, and I've decided to mention Moonfruit for a couple of reasons which I will share in a few moments.

moonfruit advert free driving school websites

As you are probably aware by now, I'm a fan of using blogspot for my driving school advertising activities as demonstrated by this blog and my NW3 driving lessons online marketing presence, and that is because blogger is already search engine optimised (SEO) and very easy to setup and update with very little effort and finally because it is owned by google it is completely advert free as well as guaranteed to be around for a long time.
If you are worried about not being able to have a personally registered domain name used with the blogspot hosting service, have a look at an article on how to use personal domain name from 123-reg and blogger.

For those of you that prefer a more traditional website, you can also use Moonfruit mentioned above with your own domain name.

Update June 2015 The website used as an example above has slipped off the 1st page of rankings, this could be due to the simple reason that relevant content is not being added on a constant basis, so don't think that you can just setup an online presence forget about it and think it will continue to be at its best. You need to monitor, update and make sure your content is still relevant. The other thing is always check links to make sure they are still valid as broken links can affect a page or site ranking when it comes to SEO.
More Reading
Choosing a driving school domain name ro register.

New Driving School Marketing Standards - ASA Regulations

From the 1st March 2011, all UK online marketing communications will be regulated by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), and they will be able to investigate complaints about false marketing campaigns on websites.

This now means that all owners of driving school websites need to make sure all claims are true and can be substantiated.

For more information about these new online marketing law changes, visit the ASA website.

These changes are most unlikely to affect driving instructors who only teach provisional licence holders for the UK 'L' test, but would probably lead to a rise in complaints against ADI training organisations or franchise operations who aren't quite truthful about their services.