Heating & cooling contractors often wonder why their website doesn’t bring in as many leads as they hope for. Most of the time it is the result of low click volume which is a product of poor web design, codebase, and search engine optimization. But what about advertising? For contractors running PPC campaigns, the low click volume could originate from a poorly managed advertising strategy on Google, Facebook, or elsewhere. Despite these common occurrences there are instances in which traffic is coming in but leads are not. In cases like this, the problem is with conversion rate optimization. If your website is frequently visited but is not converting those visitors into leads then there is work do be done. Here are some of the reasons websites don’t convert:
Call To Action
Every high conversion website has a clear and convincing call to action. There are too many websites that simply don’t have their basic information listed on the header and footer of their homepage. Every visitor should know who you are, where you are, and what you do. Those three things are non-negotiable. It is not enough however to simply list a phone number. The text must be sized correctly so that users can easily see it. You want the phone number to be big and in the face of the prospective customer. You also want the phone number to be clickable on mobile devices by integrating click-to-call functionality. This way, mobile users can become leads with a simple click making it more convenient than ever to generate new clients online.
An underrated factor in website conversion rates is personalization. What do we mean by that? Have you ever been to an HVAC website that has stock photos or low quality photos? These kinds of images may currently be on your website. What you may not have considered is how a lack of personalization can impact conversions. Visitors who see personable contractors are more likely to call than those who see stock photos or images of angry-looking HVAC employees. This concept is more rooted in traditional marketing than digital marketing but the two merge in this instance. Consumers who have a level of comfort with the business are going to be more likely to engage with them which manifests itself in the form online leads for HVAC.
Site Speed Optimization
How SEO & Website Conversions are Related
We mentioned earlier in this post that most failing websites don’t have a conversion problem as much as an SEO problem. But the reality is that these two things are inherently connected. Google ranks websites at least partially based on how users behave on them. To put it more simply, if your website is poorly designed and lacks clear calls to action, it is unlikely to rank well in the first place. You cannot convert visitors you don’t have. Conversely, converting the visitors you do have will often lead to an even higher ranking because the same principles that foster conversions also signal to Google that your website is worth moving up on search results. HVAC Webmasters provides digital marketing services for contractors across the United States. We optimize sites for search ranking and conversions while implementing your company photos and offering three logo revisions (if necessary) to improve presentation.
Buying a lead is not the worst idea an HVAC contractor can think of. After all, leads drive your business. The problem is that in our experience when HVAC contractors do buy leads, the leads are expensive and the contractor is unhappy with the lead. But the issue with buying leads actually expands even further beyond the frequency of dissatisfaction associated with them. Buying leads on their own is a pitfall for you company and dissuades you from investing in the type of marketing resources that progressively increase your brand visibility and generate sales organically and in a manner that can be sustained over a longer period of time moving forward.
“I Hate My Lead Source”
If you are an heating & cooling contractor who has uttered these words you aren’t alone. In fact you are merely one of thousands of your contemporaries who share the same sentiment. Although leads as a concept are not foolish since the goal of every business is to make profit, the practice of lead buying is inferior to the theory. This is mostly due to poor quality lead distributors who offer “shared” leads rather than exclusives. But even with the best of the worst, leads can become a pitfall for HVAC companies who are climbing uphill vs local competitors.
“I Want More Leads”
Despite the well-documented disgust with lead sources many contractors continue to buy them. Why? Because at the end of the day they still want more leads. Because securing a lead brings money to their business it becomes a cyclical desire for the company. The profit is just enough to seem like it’s worth it for the heating & cooling business. Getting more leads can be a challenge especially with sources offering shared leads. Worse yet, it often distracts contractors from other forms of marketing that will actually end up producing more sales over the long-run.
Shifting Mentality: Invest in Yourself
When you purchase a lead from a platform it is them who benefits most. When the consumer purchases your services, the allegiance is to the lead platform and the lead platform is where they will likely return when they need another. This is true even of paying for clicks on Google Ads, Facebook, etc. The reality is that you are investing in these platforms (other people’s platforms) instead of your own. The goal should shift towards investing in your own brand and growing the allegiance of consumers towards your own likeness. This way, you will generate sustainable business for your company and not shell out hard-earned funds to conglomerates.
First thing you’ll need is a custom website with schema markup. A website can be the central hub of your HVAC company and create a foundation for subsequent web work. Most websites today are built with templates, either from a WordPress theme market or from DIY website builders like Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace. While they have their advantages of course, they don’t have the type of long-term potential that custom sites do. They are limited in terms of organic optimization as well as long-term control of your brand which is what we want to avoid.
Google My Business
Nobody will take your company seriously without a Google My Business page. You might ask how this is different than a lead platform since you are investing in Google rather than yourself. First of all, you are not investing money. Google My Business is free to claim and match with your Google Maps listing. Second, GMB listings can be linked to your main website so that your own web property becomes associated with the Google listing as well as the Google Reviews and Google Maps placement that comes along with it. All of this is free of charge for companies.
Search Engine Optimization
The best leads actually come from organic clicks on Google. Ranking for terms like “ac repair” and similar phrases can drive searchers to your website or Google My Business Listing. In either case, if they are properly optimized for conversions with calls to action like phone numbers, you can really earn most of your profit organically. SEO is the best long-term strategy for online marketing since it is an investment in yourself and becomes a sustainable profit generator for years and decades to come. SEO can also be used together with paid advertising.
A Full Scale Approach
A single strategy may not always work out. In fact, it seldom does. It is the combination of several strategies that help HVAC companies earn sales online. What we can say though is that an investment in leads only is counterproductive to your overall web presence and is unlikely to keep you in business very long. If you want to buy leads, that option is still available to you. But make sure that while you’re doing so, you are also investing in your own brand and platform so that you can reap the long-term rewards of a full and robust web presence. Try partnering with a full digital marketing agency like HVAC Webmasters where every base is covered in 2019.
When HVAC contractors look for marketing services online they usually search Google. The companies that come up in those searches have clearly optimized their own websites which is why they are ranking on page one and why you clicked on them. But just because their own site is optimized doesn’t mean they will optimize yours (to the same degree) if and when you become a client. Independent researchers noted specific cases where client websites did not meet even close to the standard set by the company website. This dynamic is very misleading to prospective customers who are expecting the same type of optimization effort on their own site. Pitfalls of working with SEO companies are not new. Lip service is a fairly common occurrence for web geeks. Understanding how to weed out the bad ones can pay off in the end.
Achieving Maps placement is important but it is not possible without reviews. Google prioritizes HVAC businesses that have established a reputation through reviews. Generating reviews is not an easy task necessarily but it is a relatively simple one. As a client of HVAC Webmasters your website includes our Righteous Reviews widget which allows customers to leave a review directly on your website which is than distributed to Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Also, the widget populates existing reviews of your company from those same platforms and displays them for all visitors to witness. The best way to get someone to leave a review on your website is to ask in person.
Deep, Heavy Content
Websites that optimize typically have deep, heavy content. That means multiple in-depth pages explaining different aspects of their services. That means weekly or monthly blog posts that provide valuable and informative reading material on the subject matter. A one page website will never optimize to its potential. For Google to acknowledge a website as an authority on a topic, it must showcase its relevance over and over again. Good content is not a one time action, it must be written and published consistently including with relevant internal links to enhance user experience.
For HVAC companies many clicks will come from Google Maps. The Local 3 Pack appears on search results for HVAC related queries and if you are properly optimized can generate a substantial number of leads. Since The 3 Pack is showcased above traditional organic results, customers are more likely to click them. It is estimated that close to 70% of searchers click organic results over PPC ads but Google Maps listings are included as part of “organic” results. The best part about being included on the Local Map Pack is that you’re likely to also be on regular organic results.
As a full digital marketing agency our team provides advertising services in addition to SEO. We help HVAC contractors with their Google and Facebook ad spend and attempt to maximize revenue from that technique. While ads can certainly be helpful, organic clicks still provide the greatest ROI which is why we believe so strongly in them at HVAC Webmasters. Because organic results are achieved through a series of optimization tasks they do not require the same kind of fixed payment that PPC advertising does. SEO is sustainable so organic clicks will continue to yield profit over time.
Is Your HVAC Website Optimized?
Sometimes contractors don’t know whether or not their site is optimized. They certainly are aware of the amount of leads they are generating but may not be able to identify what is working and what is not working on a website. That’s why Google Analytics and Google Search Console are very important tools for all business owners. HVAC companies must see tangible results in the form of organic clicks. The good news is that Google Analytics can be set up on any website, free of charge. With the tracking code live on your website, you will know definitively how much traffic it is generating. If it happens to be showing lots of clicks but you are receiving minimal calls, the issues with your SEO campaign could have more to do with conversion. Still, the SEO process is not truly complete until it completes the job of generating a lead. Having a professional perform an SEO audit of your website can be helpful but make sure they are providing you with legitimate information and not just lip service.
There’s many in the industry who claim to be SEO experts but the only way to find out for sure is to ask tough questions about their business. You will find that when an SEO company is trustworthy they won’t oversell their service. Instead they will try to educate you on how their service works and help you understand whether or not it is a good fit for your company. On today’s episode of The HVAC Marketing Podcast, owners Nolen and John explain the process of identifying a legitimate marketing company for SEO services.
Are You a Specialty SEO Company?
A good question to ask for HVAC contractors is whether or not the SEO company specializes in a specific niche. For example, HVAC Webmasters specializes in marketing for HVAC contractors. While a specialty doesn’t always equate to a high quality marketing company, it is certainly a point in their favor. Experience promoting similar businesses is a clear advantage over those who have only represented other kinds of industries. You might also ask if the specialize in a certain “type” of SEO which is normally a red flag.
Do You Provide Original Content?
A website without content cannot maximize its SEO. But some contractors mistakenly believe their site already has content. While there may be text on the pages, it is often copied from other sources and rendered null and void by Google. You can check if your page content is scraped by visiting Copyscape. You can have a lot of content and not have any rankings. After all, why would Google want to show the same content as another page that is more well established and more relevant? Also, ask them if they have writes on-staff.
Catching Them in a Lie
The best thing you can do as an HVAC contractor is catch an SEO expert in a lie. They might not be transparent about their billing process and use black box billing to forward your SEO payments towards pay per click marketing. While it might get you calls early, it will not sustain itself over time because the money you paid for SEO is a monthly fee. If you notice that your SEO suddenly stopped working, you’ve been worked. Ask them upfront how their billing process works and weather they use SEO money for other tasks.
Marketers will use every trick in the book to mislead wide-eyed contractors for financial gain. Here are some of the most common ones.
#1 The Shell Trick
The shell trick started when “real SEO” quit being done. This occurrence took place around 2014 when Google’s algorithm raised its demands for what it took to rank a webpage online for relevant keywords. Fast forward to 2019, and implementing quality SEO is more difficult than ever. As a result, marketers have offered packages that breakdown costs into different shells. They will say that SEO costs x amount, mapping costs x amount, PPC costs x amount, etc. There is no all-inclusive packages with the shell trick which is its inherent problem. Big marketing firms will shame customers who are unwilling to invest in each shell. When SEO is done right, it includes all aspects of it and doesn’t need to be broken down into a bunch of different categories in its pricing structure.
#2 The Glorified Hosting Fee
Marketing companies often present their services as a detailed procedure involving in-depth website management and optimization. The reality for many is that their payment is a glorified hosting fee. You receive a decent-looking template website that is rarely worked on and are then sent monthly reports generated by 3rd party tools like SEMRush, AHRefs, MOZ, or others. Many of these reports are confusing but do enough to appease the average HVAC contractor for the time being. Not because the HVAC contractor is gullible or unintelligent but because they are being mislead by professional manipulators. Worse yet, big marketing institutions will shame companies who question the results of their services.
#3 Blackbox Billing
If you pay $5,000 to invest in a PPC campaign, many marketers will hold on to $3,000 of it, claiming that it is going towards your other parts of the shell in the aforementioned shell trick. Since you pay the marketer directly, and not Google Ads, you are at their mercy. There is no transparency involved with these transactions but it does cause HVAC contractors to get screwed out of their hard earned money. If you ask why you aren’t performing well, many marketing companies will shame you into spending more. The worst part is that the $3K being redistributed does not actually go towards quality work (in most cases) so there is really no advantage whatsoever to working with these kinds of SEO firms in 2019.
HVAC Webmasters: A Transparent Alternative
At HVAC Webmasters, we do SEO the right way. Never once have we utilized any of the tactics listed above, nor have we shamed contractors into believing that their lack of spending is the reason why marketing services lack quality. As an all-inclusive SEO agency, we perform everything from custom website design to full search engine optimization, which is all included in our SEO package. We even do custom coding, schema markup, content writing and marketing, as well as regular site work. Having worked with HVAC companies for the better part of the decade, we have built a great rapport with the industry and understand how to best market those services.
Prior to the internet, HVAC companies would employ people to hand out flyers door to door. While this strategy might’ve been somewhat effective in 1969, you could not work an employee more than the maximum number of hours in a day because of federal and state level regulations. But what if HVAC companies could have a 24/7 employee who generated leads at all times of the day and night? They can by investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
That’s right, SEO serves as an effective employee for HVAC contractors who are looking to acquire customers in their local service area. Whether it is Google Maps or organic results, SEO can pay major dividends for companies in 2019. Best of all, SEO never turns off, making it a non-stop lead generator for heating and cooling companies.
Organic SEO consists of many elements. One of the most important for HVAC is local SEO. Since HVAC companies are usually local, targeting consumers within in a defined radius creates the most favorable ROI. But local SEO is not the only aspect of optimization. On-page, Off-Site, and Technical SEO also collectively influence a company’s search visibility. Obviously, the more well represented you are on Google SERPs the more valuable of an “employee” that SEO becomes. Think of it like a salesperson who converts at a high rate. You would pay them more than the person who only gets one lead per 1,000 consumers. The great thing about SEO, is that once you establish rankings, the lead generation process can become an ongoing asset.
Why Organic SEO Works 24/7
Consumers have never before in history had so much access to A) an internet connection and B) a device on which to access it. Most public places have WiFi connections, and most Americans have a mobile device of some kind on their person. Even at times when people are away from a WiFi connection, phone carriers allow for internet access through their servers. The bottom line is this, a considerable amount of consumers can now access the net 24/7. What this means is that a search for HVAC services can happen at literally any time, and with SEO, your search results will be there waiting for when it does happen. The higher the search ranking, the more times users will view and click on your search result, and ultimately enter the sales funnel.
Organic works 24/7 because of:
Is Organic SEO Cost Efficient?
A 24/7 employee would presumably by expensive, right? Wrong. Organic SEO is one of the most inexpensive employees you will ever have on the payroll. While some digital marketing campaigns require an ongoing investment like PPC Google Ads and Facebook Ads, SEO is far less of a financial burden. The best part is that once established, its ROI becomes astronomically higher than that of any kind of paid advertising. That is because its cost is so much lower. Keep in mind that like with any other kind of marketing investment, SEO is dependent on quality. Proper optimization will yield substantial ROI in typical cases, but poorly executed SEO can end up as money down the drain. Preventing inferior SEO companies from selling you their services is easier than you might think. There are multiple red flags to look for when evaluating a potential SEO company for your heating and cooling business. Here’s why good SEO is cost efficient:
Planning The Right Organic SEO Strategy
Knowing that the quality of an SEO strategy can make or break its effectiveness, HVAC contractors should understand what it takes to plan a strategy that is projected to succeed.
A proper SEO strategy consists of keyword research, URL structuring, and high quality content writing. Other supplementary factors also play a role, such as; website design, link building, and geo-mapping. HVAC Webmasters can develop a strategy on your behalf and then execute it with our team of 20 webmasters. We’ll identify the top primary keywords in your market and target them with pages which are properly structure into a logical URL hierarchy. We will then write content that matches the industry standard and appeals to readers and search engines alike. Finally, we will regularly monitor your organic process using Google Analytics and Google Search Console and make any changes dictated by suggestive groups of data.
Tools like MOZ Keyword Explorer, SEMRush, and UberSuggest can provide keyword volume, competition, and opportunity. When searching for keywords, HVAC companies should only target those that have buyer’s intent. What that means is terms that insinuate an intention from the searcher to buy your service. An example of this would be “ac repair service” which implies that they are looking for a service. A counterexample is “ac repair diy” which indicates the searcher is looking to fix the appliance themself rather than pay someone else to do it. Buyer intent keywords are more valuable to HVAC contractors because they are easier to convert into paying customers instead of having empty web traffic for the sake of it.
Keywords should be structured within categories and subcategories to form a URL structure. For example, AC Repair might be a top level page and a main keyword. AC Coolant & Leak Repair might be a subcategory of that main page and go for a more specific and long-tail keyword. Google will then crawl the URL structure and understand that AC Coolant & Leak Repair is a subset of AC Repair. Not only does this help Google index your pages for favorable search rankings but it helps users navigate the website logically and helps them find the precise page that they are looking for. Keep URL slugs aka permalinks as short as possible while still explaining the topic of the page. An example of this would be hvaccompany.com/ac-repair/coolant-leak. You’ll notice that any stop words like “and” are removed from the permalink since Google crawlers ignore them anyway.
High Quality Content
Content remains one of the most important aspects of organic SEO. Google stresses that unique, engaging, and valuable content will separate itself on search rankings. Part of an effective SEO strategy is writing content that meets this criteria. For it to do so it must be written by professional level writers with a knowledge of both the HVAC industry as well as best SEO practices. Good content is not always easy to find, especially when you are looking for someone who has both of the criteria mentioned previously. HVAC Webmasters can write this kind of content for each page and blog post on your website.
Marketing companies have mostly abandoned the fundamentals of SEO in favor of less effective but more salesworthy tactics. Find out the nuances of why these companies are leading clients down the path of most resistance and what can be done to steer clear. HVAC Webmasters has been marketing for contractors for the better part of the last decade and we’ve seen it all when it comes to search optimization.
Summary: Sometimes contractors have a false perception of a quality website. What you see as a website that looks good to your eyes might not even rank in the top 20 for its target keyword. The best websites can be easily crawled by Google and rank on page one of SERPs for relevant terms. SEO for HVAC contractors is about many factors, and Google considers them all.
The foundation of a HVAC company’s online presence is website design. A strong website facilitates search engine optimization, brings legitimacy to your brand, and helps convert traffic into leads. Digital marketing concepts like SEO, PPC, and content marketing increase online visibility but it is the quality of the website that converts that exposure into sales. Many factors dictate a website’s design quality but as a heating & cooling contractor, the ultimate goal is to grow your business online and capture leads and sales within your local service area.
In 2019, anybody can build a website. With DIY website builders like Wix, Weebly, & SquareSpace, along with an abundance of templates for content management systems like WordPress, it’s never been easier to get a functional webpage published. But design is not always about the front-end visual display of a website. A major consideration in website design, especially as it pertains to SEO and marketing is codebase. The back-end of a website requires design as well, and it is as important, if not more so than the visual presentation.
What is HVAC Website Design?
Website design is the process of constructing websites with layouts, user interface, and other aesthetic imagery, including graphics.
Why is Web Design Important?
Without a functional website, it’s very difficult for HVAC companies to convert leads. Even if you pay for PPC ads on Google, Facebook, or other platforms, the absence of a converting landing page is going to nullify the majority of clicks. Even SEO which is an organic methodology is heavily reliant on the quality of the website. While there are more platforms on which to promote a brand than there were a decade ago (Social Media, Google My Business, Etc.), none of them are maximized without a related website. Since the goal of contractors is to increase sales, the direct correlation between web design and sales conversions should be enough to garner focus.
In our guide on HVAC SEO, we demonstrate the importance of generating traffic to your website. But the harsh reality of any internet marketing method is that it is as only as valuable as its final result. Website design and SEO cannot be separated from one another on a conceptual basis. In many ways, web design is a part of search engine optimization. Attempting to implement one without the other is a waste of marketing resources. By keeping your focus on the ultimate goal (sales), you can take actions that align with this underlying motivation and stay the course to reach your desired destination.
When HVAC workers talk about their brand, what they really mean is their trust level within their community. A functional and appealing website does wonders to strengthen a brand. Not only do consumers invest trust in companies that showcase their professionalism with a website but search engines like Google reward them as well. Aside from converting traffic that reaches your domain, strong web design can also influence said traffic and serve as a central hub for inbound links from all of your secondary media platforms like Facebook, Google My Business and even Yelp. Digital footprints leading back to a primary domain increases its authority as well as the legitimacy of your brand online.
The front-end of a website is what most consumers take notice of immediately. For people without knowledge of HTML, CSS, or any other coding languages, it is the only thing considered when formulating an opinion on the site itself. So what do viewers actually look for? Factors like colors, white space, aesthetics, and overall user experience top the list. Many of these work on a subconscious level and the user may not be able to tell you exactly why they like the looks of a website, only that they do.
In 2019, presentation has greater variance than ever before. Consumers visit websites on a plethora of devices including mobile, tablet, and desktop, as well as thousands of iterations of each. A website should appear optimally on each device which is something that can be accomplished through responsive design principles. When a website is responsive, it adapts to the device of the user without having to create an entirely new website for each one. Google has gone as far as to recommend responsive design principles to professional web designers.
Palettes are critical in modern design. Not only do they inform the experience of the visitor, but they create cohesion between brand and platform. The diversity of a palette stems largely from an HVAC company’s logo, which makes creating or updating one of great importance. A logo with lots of colors will distract the average user but a logo with only one color will bore them. Having 2 or 3 colors, a primary and 1 or 2 secondaries, is most ideal in modern website design.
A funny anecdote about white space is that it is not always white. The phrase refers to empty spaces between images, text, and blocks of content. The modern consumer prefers information that is digestible since they can become overwhelmed by excess. The function of white space is to foster a feeling of organization and conciseness. Both can improve the visitor’s experience and both can influence behavior metrics like bounce rate, pages per site, and duration on site, etc.
If you’ve ever heard a visitor discuss the “feel” of a website, aesthetics are at play. Defined as the “appreciation of beauty” aesthetics might not be something that HVAC contractors plan to concern themselves with. But make no mistake, everyone considers aesthetics in website design. That includes your prospective customers who are reading about heating & cooling services. Don’t assume that the subject matter disqualifies any website from aesthetic appeal.
A website’s look and feel has great appeal but its functionality can make or break its effectiveness. Let’s say a user enters your HVAC website and likes what they see. Imagine now that as they are attempting to navigate to other sections of the site via smartphone browser, that they can’t seem to properly scroll down or click the desired page links. Once something like this occurs, the visual appeal becomes mostly irrelevant. Users will leave a website for functional reasons in an instant (literally) and never return, regardless of what visual impression was left.
Navigation is one element of usability, but is not the only one. Consider site speed (loading time), URL structure, menu links, and user interface as some of the other most prominent factors. To revisit responsive design, usability should translate to all kinds of devices, from mobile, to desktop, to tablet, including the endless variations of each device category (iPhone, Android, MacBook Pro, HP, etc.). The user must be able to use your website at their convenience, because if not, they will move on to the next search result who does it better.
9 times out of 10, the most frustrating part of a bad website is its navigation. If the user cannot scroll properly and get to other sections of the website with ease, they will become discouraged and exit the site. Mobile websites are typically the most complicated to navigate which is why designers should pay extra close attention to mobile design. Since the screen is smaller than a tablet or desktop monitor, it should be especially convenient for the user to find their way around the site and all of its elements who will be scrolling primarily with their thumb and index finger.
Over half of internet users will exit a website that does not load within 3 seconds. That puts HVAC websites on the clock immediately after a user clicks on their result. If we’re being honest with ourselves, that 3 second number is likely to have lowered even more since the survey was last taken. In 2019, that number is more than likely closer to 1 second. The attention spans of users have shorned, and designers must take notice. You can check your existing website speed using Google PageSpeed Insights, which also gives suggestions for correcting errors.
A website URL hierarchy is an important part of a site’s functionality for users. If you have pages for each service, the URLs should be both logical and hierarchical. Let’s say you provide both residential and commercial HVAC services. If so, a page for residential ac repair should be categorized as a child page underneath the parent page which would be residential HVAC services. This closely relates to your HVAC SEO efforts and helps the user navigate your site.
Every important page on your HVAC company site should be linked from the homepage menu. When converting traffic into customers, you want them to be able to see all the services you offer and to easily access the one that intrigues them. In alignment with URL structure, menu links should have main categories (parent pages) and subcategories (child pages). You should also have a Contact Us page along with an About Us page to help connect with the visitors.
User Interface (UI)
User interface, often shortened as UI, hones in on the user’s projected need from your website from a functionality standpoint. According to Usability.gov, UI combines interaction design, visual design, and information architecture. They break down UI elements into 4 sections which are input controls, navigational components, informational components, and containers. They stress simplicity, consistency, and purpose as the driving principles of an effective user interface design.
Code is not used only for website design but really for any kind of web or software development. Think about Facebook or iTunes. Each of these has a codebase which not only informs its presentation but also its functionality or usability. Coders are often the most technically sound webmasters in the room and are able to implement the elements that the average person cannot. Although website builders have turned everyone into an amateur designer, they have not familiarized everyone with coding, which is still what separates the legitimate professionals.
Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is the fundamental code that every website is written in. HTML annotates text with tags, suggesting a browser to display it in a way that the designer intends. The language is built on a series of these tags that range from very basic to very complex. For example, text surrounded by a <strong> tag on the back-end is bolded on the front-end. HTML is closely associated with SEO as well, since header, title, and meta tags are all part of the HTML language. A CMS like WordPress makes HTML alterations simpler from an SEO perspective but the design itself still requires in depth knowledge of the coding language.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is code that instructs a browser how to display HTML. While HTML tags suggest things like bolded text, the CSS code is what actually instructs the browser on what that will actually look like on the front-end of the website. CSS is made up of what designers call rules. A CSS rule can be separated into 3 parts; a selector, a property, and a value. Aside from CSS rules, there are also more advanced levels of CSS link inline CSS and internal CSS. The simplest way to describe the codebase is as the stylization of HTML tags. CSS is very much related to the display presentation of a website, a concept outlined earlier.
Schema.org or Schema Markup is a vocabulary of semantically related tags that are inserted into HTML to help Google interpret the page. Microdata tags from Schema.org exist to help search engines like Google better categorize pages and subsequently promote them on search results. Schema is very important to SEO and is perhaps the most important optimization element of a website’s codebase. Since it was created from the instruction of search engines, we know for certain that it is a factor considered when pages are crawled, indexed, and ranked.
The increased mobile usage of the average American has made mobile design more important than ever before. It is estimated that over half of all HVAC website visitors will access the site through a smartphone. Because phones are accessible 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, there is literally an infinite window of opportunity for contractors to reach their largest consumer base. SEO can drive traffic to your website and other web entities (Google Maps, Facebook, Etc.) but without a website that is simple to use on mobile, a sales conversion remains unlikely.
In promoting services to a mobile user, several design elements will be embellished or adapted to narrow the target. One such example of this is a call to action. A CTA on a website for desktops might list an HVAC contractor’s phone number. On mobile design, it should be taken a step further by having the number be clickable by the smartphone user who is then directly connected to your phone line. Because conversions are the goal of websites, CTA’s are crucial. This has never been more pertinent than in 2019 when mobile usage continues to increase daily.
Screen size matters and smartphones have less space to work with. Pair that with a low attention user and you have yourselves one of the primary challenges of modern design. How can you as a web developer intrigue the mobile user through your website? You have limited time and space and must make the most of it. A layout should be simple and instructive while creating urgency for the visitor. A clear call to action with a clickable phone number is ideal. Other layout factors to consider include height, width, image and logo placement, and space.
Websites are expected to load quickly regardless of device, but it is even more crucial on mobile. Sites that don’t load within 3 seconds will lose more than half of their visitors, a timeframe that has likely already decreased and will continue to with each passing day. Google’s tool; Test Your Mobile Website Speed can give HVAC companies an idea of where they are currently and perhaps where they should be relative to other sites throughout the web. For contractors, the fear is that slow loading pages will prompt visitors to try the next result.
Mobile Call to Action
We’ve mentioned several times that calls to action should be tailored to the mobile user. The best example of this is a clickable phone number which can be a stylized button or text of the number itself. The goal is to create urgency for the mobile user so accompanying the phone number with a statement like call now for a free consultation is something every contractor should think about. There’s a fine line between creating urgency and becoming overly salesly and the most successful websites can navigate that terrain to generate high quality leads.
Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace help the average person create nice looking websites. If they have a disadvantage it is their lack of customization. There are certain limitations that come with using website builders that don’t exist when investing in a professional designer. While not every Wix site for example will look identical in presentation, the back-end codebase will be similar and less customizable. This can hinder SEO efforts that are needed for a website to get traffic. As we’ve stated, website design cannot exist exclusive from SEO if increasing sales is the goal.
Besides custom codebase being superior SEO protocol, customization is part of every aspect of design. From the placement of a logo on the page’s layout, to the color scheme of the palette on the CSS style sheet, customization can go a long way towards increasing conversion rates and satisfying user’s needs and attention spans. It’s not to say that website creators cannot work under any circumstances, but instead to highlight the reasons why custom design is so useful. At the end of the day it becomes the choice of the HVAC company based on their digital marketing goals.
Tools like Wix provide options for display. Website makers can choose their layout, buttons, and even color schemes. While this might differentiate one website from another, the code will remain similar. You see, even with a change in color scheme which alters the existing CSS code, the skeleton of the style sheet stays identical. Google can see that the website you’ve created was made with Wix based on its internal codebase. It doesn’t make it a bad choice, but it can make SEO a more difficult process to execute and ultimately discourage the sales growth you covet.
Tired of your website’s footer saying something like “designed with Weebly?” If so, custom design may be for you. With custom design, you control what appears on your website and where it appears. There is no mandatory insertions of code that cannot be deleted. Instead, you can add your own logos, awards, and badges of honor to your header and footer, instead of being forced to promote the tool used to design the website itself. Customization = control for HVAC contractors. Consider even something like your logo widthwhich could be limited in Wix.
With truly custom web design, you can brand your HVAC company in a manner not replicable through website builders. A unique codebase, layout, and color scheme can differentiate your website from others in the same industry and service area. You may find the differences between a template website and a custom one to be minimal at first glance, but Google sees it differently. Perhaps most importantly, users growing accustomed to your brand through website design can only help expand awareness and foster a long-term, sustainable online presence.
We’ve noted that most visitors will access HVAC websites through mobile smartphones, but the highest conversion websites cannot ignore any of its users. That includes those who access the website on desktop, tablet, or some other 3rd party device that is not a smartphone. Since it’s not plausible to design a site for each device, brand, and model, the best solution is responsive web design, sometimes shortened as RWD. The primary advantage of RWD is to optimize display and functionality for a website on any device efficiently and reach all possible customers.
Mashable named 2013 the year of responsive design and 6 years later it is now considered the norm for websites that perform well on Google. The search engine has gone as far as to recommend its usage to web developers and has even offered RWD tutorials on their Web Fundamentals platform. RWD fixes would-be problems that designers would once dread. For example, an image displayed on a mobile site might appear too small on desktop, but responsive design incorporates flexibility so that the image is resized to its optimal display.
The area immediately visible to the user is known as the viewport. As you might imagine, viewports vary by device so an iPhone 7 viewport will not compare to that of a Dell PC monitor. Prior to mobile’s emergence to prominence, designs were often left “fixed” for desktop viewing which would create viewport distortion when accessed via mobile. If you can remember when mobile phones were first popularized, you likely remember some of the worst looking websites in history. Imagine trying to set up a phone call with your local HVAC contractor on this display. It would not be ideal.
The point at which a provision of the optimal layout is displayed is known as the breakpoint. In responsive design, breakpoints are usually changes to the width of the screen. Sometimes a breakpoint might shift the viewport from displaying 2 columns to displaying 4 columns. Designers should focus on breakpoints by device rather than model. In other words, smartphones should be a category, but Apple iPhone 7 should not be. Breakpoints also vary in significance. Some of them can be quite obvious while others are more subtle. Use tactfully.
Graphic Design (UX)
A website’s graphics are part of its visual presentation but can be considered an entirely separate skill altogether from a designer’s standpoint. Graphics can be everything from logos to interactive buttons and everything in between. Graphics are often tied into a site’s color scheme, but are not the color scheme itself. Most color palettes work from the starting point of the logo. If your HVAC company has an existing logo with brand recognition, it is ideal to keep that one if not slightly enhance it. Brand new contractors might be looking for an original logo from a professional designer.
Logos are likely the most important graphic for a company but certainly not the only one that should be integrated onto a website. Like we said, graphic design is a skill that transcends web design. While website’s are written with code and tags, graphics are crafted using digital art studios such as Adobe Suite. Illustrator, inDesign and Photoshop can all be helpful in creating graphics for your website and other marketing materials. Graphics can be published on print materials as well, such as business cards and newsletters. They can even be printed on t shirts, truck wraps, and other property.
An effective heating & cooling logo is both simple and memorable. Striking that balance isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish. Still, the companies that thrive are the ones who find a way. Focus on solid colors that are easy on the eyes. 99 Designs outlines what each color evokes from the perspective of the typical consumer. Blue for instance, is one color that people often associate with trust and professionalism which makes sense when you understand that it is used on at least half of all logos. Think about your own logo for a moment, what characteristics does it evoke?
A call to action is often enhanced by its graphical outline. In other words, a phone number button might appeal more to the user than simply the number itself. Why? Because consumers love to be visually inspired. Since the goal of every CTA is to create urgency and prompt action, enhancing its graphical nature can help reach that destination. This assumes the graphic is skillfully designed, of course. Keep in mind that poorly designed graphics can have a negative impact on a user’s behavior. CTA buttons are important when merging graphic and web design.
What is the information distributed on infographics? It can be anything and everything as long it stays within the context of your webpages and the content published on them. If CTA buttons merge graphic and web design, infographics unify content marketing, graphic and web design. It’s a way of threading everything the user consumes together in one cohesive construct. Like with logos and buttons, an infographic can range from extremely helpful to discouraging. Some infographics become so popular, they earn inbound links to the image address, which helps SEO.
We spoke about UI or user interface, but the most important part of a website is UX or user experience. Although it is less quantifiable, UX encompasses the overall experience of the website visitor. This relates to everything previously discussed on this page. From aesthetics and visual presentation to navigation and website functionality. Of course codebase remains the foundation of UX since it is what ultimately dictates it, even if the users themselves don’t realize it on a fundamental level. While UX cannot be measured by a single metric, there are groups of data that can paint a general picture of its performance, such as bounce rate, pages per session, etc.
Google understands the behavior of website visitors better than ever before and uses that information to inform their rankings. The site’s that rank highest are liked by visitors who demonstrate their affinity through behaviors. Whether it’s visiting multiple pages on a website or engaging with content elements on the homepage, users make their feelings apparent to Google in more ways than one. The goal of every HVAC website is to generate leads and there’s no safer way to accomplish this than through enhancing the user’s experience and inspiring them to complete a call to action.
UX is best understood through user metrics like bounce rate and pages per session. Although we can all subjectively visit an HVAC website and form an opinion on it, it is actions that demonstrate our most authentic conclusions. Any local service company that can keep users on their website for long periods of time and have them participate in sales funnel entry or calls to action is going to output strong metrics to Google and be rewarded in some capacity. The best way to track user behavior on your own end is through Google Analytics, a free tracking tool.
Aside from measuring user behavior, asking them outright for feedback can also be helpful. While it doesn’t provide the kind of raw data that Google values it does inform heating & cooling businesses about strengths and weaknesses of their site, explained from a visitor’s perspective. Sometimes people will holdback on criticisms, but if you include an anonymous survey directly on your website, there’s little for them to hold back. You might even get criticism so harsh that you wonder if they’re being intentionally combative in hopes to weaken your will as a contractor.
Separate from the user’s behavior when first visiting your website, a telling piece of information can be the ratio by which visitors return for a second time or more. Sometimes brand notoriety can influence visitors to return to a site again and again, something that should make itself clear by the percentage of traffic that is reaching the site through a branded search or a direct visit. Other times more than brand recognition, it is about the quality of the site’s design and its UX. All the design elements discussed in this post can influence repeat visitations.
HVAC Website Design Company
For an HVAC SEO company you can trust to design a high quality website, choose HVAC Webmasters. Each website constructed by the expert webmasters are custom-made and tailored to the client’s needs and brand. With a team of designers on staff (website & graphics), we are able to produce a high conversion online marketing channel for your heating & cooling business. A website serves as the foundation for your digital marketing strategy. It influences SEO, Google Maps, and of course conversion rate optimization. As a company that focuses on online marketing for HVAC companies, we are uniquely qualified to construct a website that checks of all your boxes in 2019.
Affordability is always a consideration in marketing but what’s most important is ROI or return on investment. A website template might cost less upfront but how much money is it going to bring in? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you should opt into a free SEO audit that quantifies your rank position based on call volume. If you aren’t getting many calls, it’s likely that your site is not ranking on either Google organic or Google Maps. If that’s the case, even the nominal investment you’ve made in a website template is negative ROI. Keep in mind that our services are especially affordable for agency level website design, so we are happy to discuss the details further with you at your convenience.
Custom Websites for HVAC Contractors
Tired of template websites that hinder your SEO efforts? Invest in a custom website from HVAC Webmasters. Our team of designers crafts custom codebase that implements your logo and color scheme into a cohesive conversions machine. Best of all, every design measure we take is done so with SEO and lead generation in mind. No longer do you have to worry about whether blocks of code from your template are being correctly parceled by Google crawlers. We have the data and protocol to ensure that Google not only indexes your site, but favors it.
Branded Websites for HVAC Companies
We don’t just build a website, we help build a brand for HVAC companies. Because the internet is bigger than any single website, it is important to integrate your brand onto other web entries like social media networks and local business directories. This especially useful when these properties link back to your website and vice versa. That’s why we include social media icons on your homepage so that visitors can find you on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We believe that digital marketing ventures should target a complete web presence and one that is branded.
Website Lead Generation for Heating & Cooling Contractors
A custom branded website can generate leads with the proper calls to action. Each website designed by HVAC Webmasters aims to connect relevant consumers to your office line. By integrating your contact information into our codebase, we are able to input clickable phone numbers in multiple areas throughout your site. This encourages users to take an additional step in the sales conversion process. We facilitate a connection between users who need HVAC services in your local area and yourself as a contractor or company in their general radius.