It’s no surprise that smartphone ownership is ubiquitous at this point…and continues to rise! In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that 1-in-5 American adults use smartphones for their internet, forgoing traditional broadband internet at home. As a business owner, it’s vital that you have a viable strategy for getting your HVAC business on the radar of these mobile-heavy users. Local SEO is the key to unlock this exposure opportunity, but taking user experience into consideration via mobile design is just as important.
US adults who own smartphones without broadband internet at home (%) – Source: Pew Research Center
What Exactly is Local SEO?
Local SEO — or Local Search Engine Optimization — is an approach to internet marketing that builds upon Organic SEO for HVAC services, focusing elements of web design and web development to optimize for a location. Especially if you’re a multiple location HVAC company, local SEO is tremendously important given how potential clients typically search for the heating and air services you provide (by location).
Not only should your organic on-page and social media content include a focus on local keywords that rank well for geographic factors, but there are additional elements to local SEO that you can employ to help search engines like Google recognize where you are. This is what ensures you’re prominently displayed in SERPs. Some of the local SEO elements that a strong internet marketing plan will include:
- Citation Management
- Google My Business management
- Embedded Google map on Contact Page
- NAP Consistency
- Review Management
- Schema Markup
You don’t have to know how to execute these variables yourself to have a successful HVAC website. What you do need to leverage, however, are experts in local SEO (like us) who can dial in all the right pieces of the puzzle to make your site look strong and logical when Google is retrieving location-specific results for users. MOZ listed these (and several other factors) when considering local search ranking results, and it’s worthwhile to consider that some elements weigh more heavily than others for moving the dial on your SERP position.
One of the most heavily weighted aspects of local SEO for HVAC is “On-Page Signals,” which include things like:
- Domain Authority
- Location Keywords in Titles
- NAP Presence
Including the name of the city or region that you serve alongside powerful HVAC keywords is a great way to establish your location, which will boost the organic strength of your website (and secondary sites, such as social media and claimed review sites).
What Is NAP In Relation to Local SEO for HVAC?
The terms “NAP” and “Citations” are often used somewhat interchangeably, but the best way to understand these as critical elements for local SEO is to look at what they represent: Name, Address, and Phone (…N.A.P.). It’s a no-brainer that potential customers searching for local HVAC businesses via Google are going to want easily-accessible contact information. Especially if the issue is emergent — such as a brokedown furnace in the middle of winter — a viewer needs to be able to find your phone number in a matter of seconds to get that repair in the works!
Not only is NAP data important for user experience, but it also demonstrates to Google that your site is well-developed, useful, and communicates contact information explicitly. This makes you a great fit for searches that invoke your stated service area (determined via location keywords or the address listed), which means Google and other search engines are going to give your site higher rankings to meet the need.
NAP isn’t only important for your primary HVAC website SEO — including on-page content, thoughtfully designed Contact Page, and structured data usage — but also for your secondary websites. Think of social media business pages, Google My Business page, Angie’s List page, etc., which are the citations for your HVAC business. All of these potential points of entry are opportunities to provide a great user experience by ensuring NAP is consistent, the pages are optimized, and you’ve managed citations across the web. This establishes authority and reliability when it comes to your overall web presence, giving your local SEO game a huge boost!
How Does Organic Content Come Into Play For Local SEO?
I touched on it briefly, but it’s worth circling back on the point that organic content has a significant, long-term impact on your ability to rank well for local SEO. For Localized Organic Ranking Factors, the on-page signals count for 26% of your ranking score.
What does this mean? It’s (hopefully) no surprise at this point that you have to have good copy on your website. You can’t throw up a single paragraph on a webpage about HVAC services and expect that to either inform your potential customers in any real way, nor will it reward you with a top spot on the search engine results page. I will go ahead and beat this point into the ground: Google wants what your site visitors want. When a potential customer clicks through to your website from the results page or from a citation page, they expect to find relevant info. If you have generic or lackluster content, or if the volume of content is minimal, there is no value. You’re not adding anything worth reviewing, and thus you aren’t considered an optimal candidate for Google to serve up in the rankings.
We know that quality content is a must for HVAC business, but incorporating location keywords into the content is what will make the biggest impact on local SEO. It’s one thing to kick butt for the keyword search “best heating company,” but if the user follows suit with typical behavior, they’re going to tack on their city name or zip code to get more tailored results. In fact, Google often prompts adding “near me” or even the user’s city (based on location services). If you haven’t optimized for your service area (or areas), you’re not going to seem as relevant. Utilizing strong H1 tags with the city name alongside high-performing search keywords will help your site make leaps in bounds.
Domain Authority For Organic SEO
Another factor to consider is Domain Authority. In a nutshell, MOZ’s metric; domain authority is a 1-100 ranking that can help gauge the strength of your site relative to other trusted domains via links. This means outgoing links to reputable organizations (such as unions, trade organizations, libraries, etc.), but also incoming links that establish your content as traffic-worthy. This doesn’t mean you should engage in shady linkback tactics, but rather it reinforces an organic SEO strategy that acknowledges good content, providing value for the internet and those who use it, as the lynchpin of an effective internet marketing campaign.
Since we’re talking about local SEO, including links (or better yet, obtaining links to your well-developed on-page content) to nearby organizations that can bolster your local reputation and cultivate relationships is an awesome strategy!
Does User Experience Matter For Local Search Rankings?
Heck yes! User experience always counts. If the bounce rate for your site is high — which means that viewers aren’t spending much time on pages — Google interprets that as less-than-engaging (perhaps due to superficial content or slow page loading), and will penalize sites that don’t seem to grab users. HVAC mobile websites, on the other hand, that seem to have a strong response via clicks to call, will be perceived as helpful and relevant. Content must be good, and NAP information must be readily served up, but you’ve got to ensure that all typical user experience elements are in tact, as well.
- Engaging Design
- Intuitive Site Navigation
- Obvious “Call to Action” Buttons
- Optimized Image Size For Device
- Prompt Page Loading
What Is Responsive Design and Mobile Design for HVAC Websites?
I’d be remiss at this point, speaking of the importance of user experience for local SEO, to ignore the value of mobile design for location-based search ranking. Realistically, most users who are on-the-go rely on their smartphones for the vast majority of their online searches, especially when it comes to home service providers. If their heat pump is malfunctioning, or their air conditioner is rattling, they are more likely to grab their mobile devices to find an HVAC professional than they are to fish out their laptops or settle down at their desktops. Remember that stat I mentioned early on? 20% of the population doesn’t even have internet at home anymore…it’s just on their phones!
Mobile web design for HVAC companies ensures that when you do get that coveted click-through from the search results page, that your website is ready to meet those smartphone users with an optimized page for the device. The layout must adjust, the images may shrink, the text will have to morph, and you’ll want a call-to-action button pretty much crowding that top area. Navigation will be different from your desktop page to accommodate the user experience and ensure that intuition leads the way to all the right data for that mobile user to call you for their heating and cooling needs.
Responsive Design Makes Local SEO Possible From Any Device
Because there are a myriad of devices that connect users to the internet these days, your business website must show up well on any screen size. If you expect one site to work flawlessly and provide a great user experience for everyone, you’re not being realistic. Especially for local SEO, responsive design that accounts for various device sizes — from laptops to tablets to smartphones — will ensure your location searches and click-throughs result in calls.
Visual image to demonstrate variance in screen size, which is why responsive design for local SEO is a must!
Consider, too, the behavior of various devices. If your site competes with screen actions, such as swipes or shakes, and causes frustration, you are not going to have someone stick around long enough to call. But, when Google sees the data — CTR, bounce rate, on-page signals, citations, etc. — that indicates a strong, authoritative HVAC site, they’ll boost your rankings.
Couple a mobile web design with local SEO that is thoughtful and well-executed, and it’ll just be a matter of time before you see your calls increase. Reap the rewards for time well spent on local search engine marketing!