A steady stream of customers and phone calls is the lifeblood of your HVAC, AC, and/or furnace repair business. But, with competition heating up (pun intended), it can be hard to stay afloat.
Gone are the days of “phone book”, radio, and print ads bringing in customers. Even your grandmother is on the internet now, and when it comes to finding a service provider for HVAC/AC/Furnace repair and installation, your customers are turning to Google.
Seven out of every ten buying decisions are first explored with a search query. This holds true for both online and OFFLINE sales.
Fact is, search engine placements are as important as ever. Not only do customers expect you to be there, if you aren’t, they are more than happy to go with a provider who is. This makes search engine optimization even more costly to ignore. If your business isn’t highly visible in search results, you’ll lose out of potential customers, brand recognition and sales…..but you’ll also be handing the competition the ammunition they need to put you out of business.
Make no bones about it, the competition IS trying to put you six feet under. There’s a reason business is often described in terms of war and battles. That’s because it’s a no-holds-barred fight for survival out there.
With customers having access to more options than ever with the stroke of the keyboard, earning new business is an ongoing fight no matter your industry or niche.
Where are Customers Finding Local Businesses?
When it comes to local service providers, data shows that customers are turning to:
• Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc.)
• Social Media (business pages, and referrals from friends)
• Service comparison and directory sites (i.e. HomeAdvisor, Yelp, etc.)
In fact, a recent survey of over 2,000 customers uncovered that over 86% of the surveyed group frequently used the internet to find local service providers.
Out of those that first turned to the internet for aid in finding a provider, 74% said they first hit search engines. With Google holding over 70% of the search market share, it's clear to see where your effort should be directed towards.
Fact is, if your business isn’t showing up for relevant localized search keywords (i.e. HVAC services and repair, AC services and repair, furnace services and repair, etc.) then you’re losing out on potential new customers and revenue.
Understanding How Search Engines Work
The last decade has brought about some serious changes to the ways in which search engines, find, categorize, prioritize, and determine where your pages show up in their organic results.
Despite the overwhelming complexity of search algorithms (for example Google looks at over 200 ranking signals), it’s not all that complicated to do the right thing.
Let’s take a moment to break down the basics.
When it comes to “search engine results”, there are three types:
• Paid or “PPC” listings.
• Map Pack Listings
• Organic Results
Paid listings include those results that show up first and are separate from other results. Per FTC regulations, these “ads” must be labeled and discernible from other “natural” and non-sponsored results. For example, in Google paid listings can be purchased through their Adwords program. Any time a prospect clicks on your advert, you would pay Google a fee.
For service related industries, PPC might sound attractive at first, but costs can add up fast with each click costing as much as $60.00 depending on your niche and location. Not to mention the cost of fraudulent clicks from bots and competitors trying to drive up your costs (but that’s another story for another day and another post).
Map Pack Listings
Map pack listings are “free” and should be part of a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy for all HVAC, AC, and furnace repair and service companies.
In Google, for example, their map results come from the “Google My Business” program. This program is free to sign up for, but signing up doesn’t guarantee ranking or placements for your target audience or keywords. More on this later…
After paid placements and map pack listings come the “organic results”. Like map results, these results cost nothing and are sometimes referred to as “non-paid” or free search results. However, just like with map listings, ranking in organic results isn’t an “if you build it they will come” scenario. Optimizing your site and tuning your SEO efforts to leverage Google’s algorithm can take time, perseverance, a little sweat, money, and even a few tears lol.
How can you Leverage Google to Kill the Competition?
Your website should be your #1 producer of inbound leads, whether from Google My Business, map listings, or organic search results. But you can’t just set and forget it. Type in your business niche + city name... right now… go ahead, we’ll wait….
See that little number below the search bar? It’s pretty big, right? Yeah, that’s how many websites you are directly or indirectly competing against for top placements. Why should Google choose you out of the tens or hundreds of thousands of other sites?
That’s where an expertly crafted and brilliantly executed search engine optimization plan comes into place.
A comprehensive SEO strategy should include at a minimum:
• Keyword research, mapping, and prioritization
• Local and regionally based strategies
• Technical on-page / on-site review and analysis
• Conversion optimization review
• Usability/user experience audit
• Speed optimization and performance testing
• Residual content curation and deployment strategy
• Inbound and outbound link modeling and building strategies
• Detailed monthly performance reports
• And more…
What’s Google Want from my Business?
This may be one of the most loaded questions in HVAC, AC and furnace services SEO. We know Google looks at, weights, and ranks your site based off of 200 plus ranking signals.
Some of these “signals” have been made public, while others are a tightly kept secret. Luckily for you, we’ve had years of testing and tons of data on our side to make sense of the mess that is the Google algorithm.
While this isn’t a comprehensive guide by any means, below we’ll cover the primary pillars that should be used to establish the foundation of a proper SEO strategy…
Over the last few years, Google has made a clear and measurable move towards rewarding content that:
• Is relevant to the search query (i.e. intent based)
• Is easily readable
• Is engaging, useful and beneficial to end users
• Does not overtly promote your service or product
• Is rich with multi-media
• Includes interactive features (i.e. commenting, social sharing, etc.)
• References authoritative resources (linking out to them)
• Is semantically rich in keywords
• Provides topical relevancy with headings and sub-headings conducive to further exploration of the main topic
Since the early ‘90s search engines like Bing and Google have used “backlinks” as a type of voting system for websites and pages.
Early on the more votes (read: backlinks) that you had, the more popular your site must be…and if your site was popular, then it must be worthy of ranking.
As search engines became more intelligent backlinks were (and are) still one of the most relevant SEO tactics to improve your rankings…but with a few changes.
It’s no longer just about how many votes you have (though this is still important), it’s also about WHO is talking about or voting for your site/pages (i.e. the sites that link to your site).
For example, if you have a sporting goods website, a backlink from ESPN is BOTH relevant AND authoritative. This is one of the most powerful links you can get: niche relevant and authoritative.
If that same sporting goods site received a link from, say, Vogue magazine, the link would be “authoritative” and powerful, but not relevant to the niche, and thus not as important as the link from ESPN (even if ESPN and Vogue are viewed as just as “popular/authoritative” as each other in Google’s eyes).
When it comes to your local HVAC, AC, and furnace repair sites, you’ll want links that are:
• Niche relevant
• Local (when possible)
There is a lot more to backlink strategy, but this is the foundational concept.
3. Performance and Usability
Lastly, no matter how many backlinks you have, if your site runs poorly or provides a sub-par user experience, you’ll still lose out to “less popular” competitors with fewer backlinks than you.
When it comes to usability here are the core areas to focus on:
• Easy and intuitive navigation
• Make it simple for users to find the information they are looking for
• Clear and descriptive calls to action
• Topical silos and categories
• Page load speed
• Minimal ads, pop-ups and other “intrusive” elements
• A fluid browsing and web experience
• Mobile compatibility
When it comes to positioning your HVAC, AC, or furnace services and repair business for success, search engine optimization simply can’t be ignored.
Modern consumers have moved towards utilizing digital mediums to search, find, and vet local service providers. If your business isn’t readily available for them to browse and choose from, you can be sure one of your competitor's sites is there and ready to siphon up business that could have been yours.
If your HVAC, AC, or Furnace repair company is struggling to get the results you’re looking for, or simply are unsure of where to start, give us a call today. We’ve successfully worked with many local brands just like yours to secure search engine rankings that last.