Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is the elusive channel that every business, across every industry, strives to succeed within.
HVAC companies are no exception as they try to optimize the online channel and rise above the crowds of online competition.
Many, however, don’t know where to begin and may even miss key steps that inhibit the attainment of their SEO goals.
They often cherry-pick one or two search engine optimization activities but overlook others for a net gain of zero.
Or, even worse, they choose independent SEO gurus that promise them a guaranteed page-one ranking but may (or most likely may not) be able to create true value for the money they charge.
The good news is that SEO success is not impossible. It’s not rocket science, and it does not require any kind of magic wand.
It is hard work, but it’s well worth the effort!
Start Here: The Beginner’s Guide To Search Engine Optimization For Your HVAC Business
#1: Keywords still reign supreme.
Keywords are the words and phrases that are typed into the search bar of Google, Yahoo or Bing when one is looking for something.
For the HVAC company, your customers (and potential customers) might be entering phrases such as “air conditioner service near me” or “after hours air conditioner repair.”
Although it’s tempting to feel that you already know what keywords and phrases your customer base is using, there is a better (and more effective, foolproof and proven) way to define your list of top keywords.
Check out these tips to help you succeed in developing a solid keyword strategy.
- Don’t rest on your laurels. Much of your success in the search engine optimization channel will depend on the understanding that it’s a living, breathing part of your marketing mix. When it comes to choosing keywords, it is essential to revisit your list periodically and closely track results. What works in the first quarter of the year may not in the third and vice versa.
- Diversify your list. A good mix of competitive high volume terms along with long-tail phrases or less straightforward keyword matches is also important to winning at the SEO game.
- Practice best practices. Once you have a strong list of keywords to support your SEO goals, be sure to optimize your content around those keywords. Use the keyword that your content is focused on in your title, subtitles, metadata, image titles, alt titles, URL and in anchor texts (links) with the text. Of course, you’ll use the keyword naturally throughout the text as well.
There are seemingly countless tools available online to drill down on keywords that you should incorporate into your SEO strategy.
The go-to tool is Google Keyword Planner which is an excellent place to start.
#2: Mobile performance matters (big time).
In 2015, the infamous Google algorithm update lovingly referred to as Mobilegeddon brought urgency to creating responsive or mobile-first websites.
While Google does not come right out and say that you’ll suffer if you are not mobile-first or responsive, it does list best SEO practices that need to be followed to ensure that your indexing and ranking is not impacted.
While providing an optimized mobile experience to your HVAC customers is quintessential for succeeding at search engine optimization, it is more than just an SEO play.
WooRank, a leading SEO auditing tool, recently provided data that shows illustrates the pervasiveness of mobile usage such as:
- ⅓ or more of all online traffic in North America originates from mobile devices
- ½ of all online shopping takes place on smartphones and tablets
- ½ of all consumers who search for a local store on a smartphone visit that store within 24 hours
- Mobile-friendly and responsive websites universally were shown to have lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates.
#3 Content is the glue that binds.
Your content strategy is the secret sauce (and Google’s top ranking factor) to help you achieve success in search engine optimization.
HVAC companies need local content to reach the home and business owners in their community that is optimized for the keywords they are using in search.
Not all content is created equal, the focus should always be quality over quantity.
Tips for creating content that makes a difference:
- Clean up pages on your website that have “thin” content, meaning too short and without relevant keywords, titles and internal/external links.
- Make sure your content is relevant, informative and adds true value to your current and potential HVAC customers (not just a cluster of keywords).
- Make your content easy to read using bullets, images and subheads to break it up. You should also pay attention to the readability, making sure it is simple and easy-to-understand.
#4 Amp up your backlink profile.
A backlink is simply a link from one external website to yours.
These coveted links provide signals to the search engines that the content on your site is of such high quality that other sites related to the HVAC industry are linking to it.
You, in other words, are a source of reference for others. Your site’s backlink profile is a top factor for search engine optimization.
Here are some tips on gaining backlink:
- Content opens many doors – Creating valuable content with in-depth analysis and unique information can attract sites looking to link to your site.
- Not all backlinks are created equal – Spammy links from sites whose sole purpose is to link should be avoided. They can actually hurt your rankings. Likewise, nofollow links are not as valuable as “follow” links or those who allow the search engine to recognize the links. Also, the higher the quality or authority of the page linking to you the higher the cache of the link.
- Links up for grabs – You can use tools like the one offered SEOMoz to explore other HVAC companies’ backlink profiles and possibly grab some of the same links.
#5 Don’t forget about the data behind the scenes.
Behind the scenes of your website are many moving parts that incrementally contribute to the success of search engine optimization.
The bad news is that these items are often overlooked in the effort to launch the site as quickly as possible.
The good news is they are relatively easy to retrofit depending on how big your site is.
Here’s an overview of these basic search engine optimization requirements that should be implemented for your HVAC site as soon as possible:
- Meta Data – In the HTML code of each page of your site is a place to add a Title and a description. The title length should be around 60 characters, and the description is around 300 characters. These should be as related to the content of the page as possible and contain a few (but not too many) keywords.
- Image Alt Attributes – This term refers to the text that shows behind an image and is viewable when the image does not render. It should contain relevant keywords.
- Sitemaps – XML Sitemaps are a basic yet critical part of SEO that can often be overlooked by web developers who are not concerned about search engine optimization. The sitemap makes it easy for Google to find your site and without it, achieving your SEO goals may be next to impossible.
#6 Keep your rep looking good.
As an HVAC service provider, you already know how important great reviews from your customers are to your overall business success, but did you know that these reviews also impact search engine optimization as well?
Research is showing that online consumer reviews, especially on Google, can have upwards of 10% impact on rankings in Google’s algorithm and overall search engine optimization.
Here’s why your positive reviews matter:
- All indicators show that companies with positive reviews are ranking higher in local search.
- Click through rates are markedly higher among HVAC companies with higher online reviews (especially with Google).
- Conversion rates (the ultimate goal, of course) are also higher for businesses with higher reviews.
#7 No one has time for a slow site.
Another basic yet uber important criterion that contributes to your search engine optimization success is website load time.
Back in 2017, when Google announced that mobile-first would be a top ranking factor, it also revealed that load time would become factored in.
And, it makes good sense.
If the consumer cannot easily navigate to your HVAC website, why should it be served up as a search result by the search engine?
Here are some rule of thumbs to pay attention to as you strive to trim down your site’s load time:
- Monitor the load times continuously – Google’s PageSpeed Insights is one of the best tools to use to track your speed. It will even offer suggestions and quick fixes to make the pages move faster.
- Look at your image sizes – Often the low hanging fruit is images that take too long to render. Many tools are available that can help you reduce the size of your website’s images to improve load time.
#8 Consistency is always key.
In almost all things in life, search engine optimization no exception, consistency is required for success.
The term NAP+W refers to your business’s Name, Address, Phone + Website and how it appears across the internet.
It’s surprising for many business owners when they look more deeply at how they are presented online.
They often learn the web address is wrong, the phone number varies and even the physical address of the business is inaccurate.
These inconsistencies not only make it harder for your HVAC customers to find you, they deplete your search engine optimization efforts.
If all things are accurate and consistent, it signals to the search engines that you’re a legit company that users can contact or visit after they search for you online.
Here are some easy steps to take to clean up your NAP+W:
- See where you stand – Check out how your information appears all over the internet, from social media pages to your own website and all places in between including directories and online profile pages.
- Dot the i’s and t’s – Make sure your complete company name (not an abbreviation or acronym) is used and that a uniform phone number is used consistently across the board.
Search engine optimization is a critical part of today’s marketing mix for nearly all businesses and especially those in the HVAC industry who need to provide a stellar customer experience and continuously feed the pipeline of new prospects.
By mastering these eight steps of search engine optimization, you’ll likely rise above what your competition is doing online and reap the benefits.
Ready to get started? Scroll up to #1 and dig in!