Tag Archives: Local SEO

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2020 Communication & Reviews Survey | HVAC Webmasters

Connecting With Consumers

Hunting for new contractors seems like everyone’s least favorite pastime, and for good reason. It’s stressful, time-consuming, and filled with pitfalls. “Are these companies trustworthy? Can I trust the customer reviews on their website?” These are the sort of questions flooding our minds as we shop around online.

At HVAC SEO Webmasters, we continually strive to better understand the consumer search process to deliver stronger results for our SEO clients. We recently conducted a research project to uncover insights into how homeowners (and commercial prospects) overcome search fright to find the next HVAC contractor for their property. We also delved into preferred contact methods for interacting with heating and AC contractors.

We specifically hunted for insights into the following questions:

  • How do consumers prefer to contact an HVAC pro when it’s their first encounter?
  • What device(s) are they most likely to use?
  • Do consumers conduct additional site research before calling for the first time?
  • What website features encourage consumers most when they consider a new HVAC contractor?
Local Pack Listings With Lots of Customer Reviews

Online analysts and consumer experts continue to describe shifts towards consistent personal research. In a Pew Research study conducted in 2018, 81% of the Americans surveyed said, “before making an important decision…they rely a lot on their own research”. That number was significantly higher than the percentage of people consulting friends, family, and even industry professionals.

Reviews play a huge part in that personal research process. One Statista report states that 82% of consumer decisions to use a local business are affected by negative reviews (91% for positive reviews).

Even before the surveys, our researchers knew how important online search is for HVAC consumers, especially the process of consulting customer reviews. With the data, we gathered, however, we could understand even more how testimonials affect the behavior of prospective clients. Our data also reinforced the necessity of maintaining the proper communication channels!

Crucial Findings From Our Consumer Surveys

Key Findings on Customer Reviews and Contact Preferences

Our Survey Process

Using Google’s streamlined survey tool, our team conducted a series of surveys designed to tackle some of the crucial questions we listed above. Each survey was released to a sample group of 300+ individuals spread across the continental United States. Since we specifically needed data from consumers who might require heating and air conditioning services, we confined the respondent age group to the 35+ year range, male and female.

All in all, we ended up collecting responses from over 1200 individuals. We achieved a well-spread sampling across genders, age groups, and the US region thanks to Google’s tool. For our post-survey analysis, respondents were divided into four age groups: 35 to 44 years old, 45 to 54 years, 55 to 64 years, and 65+.

Our Consumer Questions

You discover a new, well-rated heating/AC company on Google Search. The company’s phone number and website address are both listed. Assuming you needed service, would you…

  • Immediately call their listed phone number
  • Wait and visit their website first

You’re visiting the website of a heating/AC company that you’ve never used before. Which of the following make you feel the most comfortable with choosing their services?

  • Testimonials from happy customers
  • Clear descriptions of the company services
  • Approval badges from HomeAdvisor
  • Pictures of the company owner & crew
  • Videos of recent AC/heating projects

You’re on the website of a heating & cooling service you’ve never used before. You’re about to contact them for the first time. Which method would you prefer most?

  • A direct call
  • An email link
  • A contact form
  • A direct messaging (DM) box

Which of the following devices are you most likely to use when you contact a heating/AC service?

  • A mobile phone
  • A desktop or laptop computer
  • A tablet
  • A voice-controlled personal assistant

Key Lessons for HVAC Pros

Lesson #1: Testimonials Take Priority.

When asked which website features made them feel most comfortable with choosing the services of an unfamiliar heating/AC company, 43% of respondents said that happy customer testimonials took priority. This lines up with the findings of numerous industry researchers from the last few years.

A study late last year states that the average US consumer reads through 10 reviews before they trust a business. Younger polled age groups were likely to read an even greater number (Statista.com). This seemingly high number of testimonials is likely related to the growing distrust of online reviews. Fake reviews in eCommerce fueled much of the problem, but that distrust has also spread to other industries.

A Graph Showing Preference of Customer Reviews Over Other Website Features

Testimonials and Clear Service Descriptions Ranked Highest Among the Website Features Listed.

Despite this, customer reviews clearly still play a crucial role in client adoption rates. Among the popular features listed in our survey, testimonials outweighed most by a wide margin. That margin widened even more for the women polled in the survey, as seen in the table below.

A Gender Statistic Analysis on Customer Reviews and Other Website Features

While features like HomeAdvisor badges, original company images, and project videos took priority for several consumers, clear service descriptions (more on this later) and testimonials consistently took top placement across each age bracket.

Actionable Takeaways for HVAC Pros

Keep collecting those reviews! Not only do they provide evidence of your company’s trustworthiness, they also serve as a significant ranking factor in SEO. New reviews are especially valuable for prospective clients who haven’t utilized your services before.

Nothing makes a business more attractive than glowing testimonials of excellent customer service.

While testimonials showcased on your website may not be quite as genuine as those on Google Reviews, they still boost consumer confidence. So post away! Get those happy stories front and center on your website. You’ll notice a difference in your site KPIs.

Customer Reviews and Clear Service Descriptions are Touted as Top Website Features for Adoption
Service Pages are an Easy Way to Present More Details About Your Solutions.

Lesson #2: Consumers Need Clear Descriptions.

In one of our recent podcasts, Creative Director Jason Landry stated that website design ultimately breaks down into two key elements: information and presentation.

According to our study, clear descriptions of a company’s services are essential for higher conversions. That’s especially true among men and younger demographics, who may not have as much experience interacting with home service companies. How HVAC companies present their service information makes a significant difference in adoption.

Respondents Say They Will Usually Visit a New Service's Website Before Calling.

Consumers continually show a keen interest in personal research. According to the Pew Research study we mentioned earlier, personal research is even more important than recommendations than friends, families, and industry professionals to many consumers. This lines up with the findings in our next survey.

Consumers Stating They Prefer to Visit a Site First
Reading Through a Website is an Important Part of Service Shopping for Many Consumers.

When asked whether they’d immediately call an HVAC provider or visit their website first, polled consumers showed a clear desire to research the website. For one, this enables prospective clients to dig more into the services available from the provider. Second, the additional research allows the consumers to craft a full perspective of the company in question.

Fewer would click through to the site if the consumers were worried solely about star ratings. After all, local map packs (the primary traffic source for many service keywords) showcase Google Reviews aggregate ratings for each listed business. They also desire a better understanding of the company’s services.

To-Do’s for HVAC Companies

If service detail is what your prospective clients want, give it to them! Write full, keyword-optimized service pages for every one of your solutions. Your clients will appreciate the helpful information and reward you with higher conversion rates.

Keyword-rich service pages also enable rankings for a much larger variety of terms. In other words, that’s more people coming to your website for specific services you provide! So many HVAC companies injure themselves by skipping this process favoring a cheap bullet list on the homepage. That doesn’t work for SEO, and it won’t work for your prospective customers either.

Consumers Stating They'd Use a Mobile Phone to Contact an HVAC Company.

Get those customer reviews! Write those service pages (or have a professional do them for you). Of consumers say it’s important, it matters.

Lesson #3: Get Even More Mobile-Friendly

As consumers eagerly harness mobile technology, desktop computers continue to fall by the wayside. Google even recognized the user shift in July 2019 when they switched to mobile-first indexing. Since most search engine users rely on mobile devices for their browsing, it’s no wonder direct calling is their preferred choice when it comes to reaching out to your business!

75% of our surveyed consumers said they’d most likely use a mobile phone to contact their HVAC service provider.

At nearly 17%, men were the most likely of the sexes to reach out on a desktop computer, while only 8% of women said the same. Tablets followed in the 8-10% range, and voice-controlled personal assistants (PAs) came in dead last with a 4% average. We’ll discuss these devices more later.

This high usage rate for mobile phones just re-emphasizes the importance of adopting truly responsive design. If your website doesn’t conform to user devices, then you’re missing out on a lot of traffic!

Key Action Items for Mobile Usage

Be sure your design caters to a mobile audience. Features that make browsing much easier:

  • Clickable / tap-able phone numbers
  • Sandwich menus
  • Direct messaging / texting tools
  • Large font

Adding these elements to your web design allows people to read and call on the go. For an even more convenient user experience, ensure that all your CTAs (calls to action) are clearly visible and hyperlinked.

Lesson #4: Go Beyond Direct Calls

A Chart Showing Preference on How Consumers Contact HVAC Pros for the First Time From Their Website

“But you just said…” True. Direct calls are the most preferred method of contacting HVAC professionals. However, take a moment to consider the results of our last survey.

Contact Device Preferences by Age Group
42% of Respondents Preferred Methods Besides a Direct Call.

While approximately 58% of consumers preferred direct calls for contacting a new HVAC company, over 42% said they’d rather use other means. Email and contact forms were the most selected runner-ups to direct calls, at 20% and 14%, respectively. 8% of respondents – these were mostly from the 35 to 44 age bracket – were very interested in direct messaging as their first interaction tool of choice.

Potential To-Do Items for HVAC Pros

Expand the number of ways first-time prospects can contact your business. A large portion on the consumer base we polled would rather contact your company through email and/or contact forms. Even if you’ve already provided these contact channels, consider whether or not they’re visible enough on your site.

Summing Things Up

The company website serves as the first point of interaction for many consumers. Consumers are hungry for information, more so than ever before, regarding key purchase decisions. Beyond visual design and graphics, there’s an obvious need for encouragement from client testimonials. Equally important is the provision of detailed descriptions of your services.

Most of our findings boil down to two key issues: comfort and contact.

Reduce the barriers between your prospective clients and your services by making them more comfortable with your brand.

  • Take the time to gather original, unmanipulated consumer reviews from your happy customers. Again, 43% of polled individuals stated that happy customer testimonials are the most important feature for making them comfortable with an unfamiliar HVAC company.
  • Instead of lazily dropping all your services into a homepage bullet list, craft informative and keyword-rich pages for each one. This may be a standard practice in organic SEO, but it also matters very much to your would-be clients! Remember, the customer is (almost) always right.
  • Finally, consider expanding your customer contact options beyond direct phone calls. Not every method is appropriate for everyone, but additional options could help some prospects reach the conversion threshold. Be sure to consider all the contact tools outside your website, too, such as the direct messaging tool on your GMB profile. Experiment, analyze, and adapt the tools that work for your business!

A Note From the Team

The infographic and all related charts from our consumer research will be available on an upcoming HVAC Marketing Statistics page (in development). Some charts may have been altered for better visualization, but no data was changed. Our study focused on consumers within 35-65+ years of age to improve the representation of the average homeowner. Younger demographics may have different browsing habits and merit further study.

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HVAC SEO Conference 2020 (Podcast)

The world of search marketing shifts and sways all the time. Even seasoned professionals work hard to keep up to date on the latest Google algorithm updates and industry strategies. That’s why our team invests the time, money, and energy to attend key conferences around the country.

In our latest podcast, Nolen and Jason share some of the insights they accumulated from their latest conference adventures! If you’ve struggled to cultivate your online brand this year, be sure to listen in for some HVAC SEO tips.

Key Facts on SEO for HVAC Professionals

  • GMB plays a more active role now, allowing people to contact your business directly via messaging, phone, or Q&A entries.
  • SSL Certificates, custom code base, and mobile-ready design should be considered basics, but not every company provides these attributes.
  • Without a GMB account claimed and verified, it’s almost impossible to show up properly for local maps listings.

New Light on GMB

One of the most noticeable trends discussed these days is the rising prominence of GMB and the Knowledge Graph. Google My Business (GMB) is a free listing service that allows companies to show up in local searches. Businesses simply need to claim their free listing, provide their basic operational information, and verify their address with Google.

Once the account is active, Google generates a Knowledge Graph with contact information, hours of operation, and uploaded photos for your company.

A Mobile Knowledge Graph for HVAC SEO

Notice the buttons in the middle of the screenshot above. These enable streamlined communication with potential customers around the area. Not only can they easily call your business (even from the road), they can also request quotes via the messaging system. GMB creates high-value prospects without ever needing to send to your website.

Optimization for GMB

As the capabilities grow for your Google My Business account, so does the responsibility of ensuring your listing stays accurate and up to date. We’ve seen too many businesses lose valuable leads over the years because of discrepancies in their GMB listings. In fact, we witnessed one outside company (a roofing contractor) lose over $2 million revenue in a single year because of a suspended listing.

It’s more important than ever to keep your account optimized. How can your business accomplish this?

Listing Settings

Initial Listing Setup

  • Make sure you’ve gone through the official verification process.
  • Use the same address (including abbreviations) for all other listings.
  • Update your GMB when you start offering new services.
  • Use your home address only if you don’t have an official office.
  • Answer as many GMB questions about your operations as possible.

Ongoing Activities

Ongoing Activities Good for HVAC SEO

  • Answer prospect questions in the Q&A section.
  • Create a short GMB post every week with new content or promotions.
  • Add team photos, interior views, exteriors shots, and job site pics.
  • Continue asking for reviews!

Big No-Nos

Bad SEO for HVAC Professionals

  • Don’t try to mess with other HVAC company websites!
  • Do not create fake locations to try to expand your service area.
  • Do not offer any sort of incentives or discounts for client reviews.
  • Do not get rid of your website domain (barring legal reasons).
  • Do not leave your GMB vacant after verifying it.

Keyword Strategy & HVAC SEO

Back in the day keyword optimization simply involved using a particular phrase three times for every 100 words. Unfortunately, this strategy created gobbity-gook messes that no one enjoyed reading. Nowadays, the Google Search algorithm does a much better job comprehending the meaning behind everyday speech. This allows the search giant to reward high quality content with the best rankings.

Keyword strategy plays a foundational role in SEO for HVAC company websites, but it also continues to slowly shift every year.

SEO conferences continue to speak what we already instinctively know: keyword diversity and natural writing produce the strongest results. That means incorporating synonyms and other phrases related to your primary keywords as your produce new content. Whether you’re re-writing a service page for the fifth time, or you’re constructing the latest guide for maintaining a home AC unit, keyword diversity makes for better reading and ranking.

Potential New Keywords From a Term Search
These Related Search Terms Add More Keyword Listings for Your Website.

If you aren’t sure which phrases best match keyword, try searching it in Google and looking at the blue phrases at the very bottom of the page. You can also try out helpful keyword tools, such as Answer the Public.

Looking for Stronger Search Results?

At HVAC Webmasters, we specialize in creating search-optimized websites for higher rankings and better leads. If you’ve been stuck with expensive lead channels or simply aren’t seeing the local search results you want, our team is here to help! Call (800) 353-3409 and get a free consultation for your HVAC SEO.

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True Client Stories: Almost Great HVAC Marketing

Do you find your business shackled to the same sort of non-productive marketing firm every couple of years? Time and time again, we hear stories of heating and cooling professionals regretting their relationships with shady sales-oriented marketers. Despite this, HVAC technicians continue to fall for the same old tricks.

Let’s try to put a stop to that today! Jason and Nolen discuss the story of an HVAC professional who never seems to escape from lousy marketing deals. Listen in for helpful lessons on finding a capable online team!

Key Lessons to Learn for HVAC Professionals

  • Marketing teams that hard-sell results tend to provide none.
  • Accountable pricing and billing make for stronger marketing results.
  • It’s rarely a good idea to sign on for annual or year plus contracts.
https://youtu.be/oE4yYIaceVA

Something’s Shady

We’re back with another “Bob” for this story. Bob finds himself with a very well-to-do HVAC company. However, he’s continually unsatisfied with his marketing firm’s results. As he shops around, he contacts a familiar page 1 company: our team at HVAC Webmasters.

As Nolen answers, he quickly recognizes Bob. He’s already talked with him three times before!

A Familiar HVAC Marketing Ride

It turns out, Bob had called the Webmasters multiple times before, only to turn to a firm with a more flashy sales routine. We’re fine with contractors partnering with other firms, of course. Bob however, was finding himself in the exact same situation: unsatisfied with his current results.

Clearly, his criteria for choosing the right firm to handle his HVAC company marketing clearly wasn’t working. Bob isn’t alone either!

A Google Ads Dashboard
Shady Companies Hide Cost Per Click Markups by Managing Google Ads Billing For You.

How to Spot a Sham

Thankfully, there a plenty of red flags that can help you spot a marketing sham when so many others buy it hook, line, and sinker. Many firms resort to the same old tactics to extract a profit without putting in the effort to grow their clients’ businesses. Here’s a few ways they do it:

Ways to Spot a Shady Marketing Company

  • They’re quick to bundle everything together in one package, one price.
  • They push hard for annual contracts with upfront payments.
  • The company salesforce is larger than the rest of the business.
  • All your interactions begin and end with a sales specialist or relationship manager.
  • You hear buzzwords in every other sentence, and you rarely understand them.
  • The company guarantees precise levels of traffic or leads.

Look closely at your next marketing company prospect. Examine how they talk, how they price, and how they bundle.

They Speak in Weird Buzzwords

Sales professionals tend to speak in a buzzword-heavy, high-energy routine that’s quick to promise results. You might hear phrases like “social fortress” that sound flashy, but never get fully explained. Most digital marketing salesmen have just enough knowledge to sound like they know what they’re talking about.

The most dependable professionals can easily explain their services, in clear terms.

They Promise Specific Search Numbers

Have you ever spoken with a marketing professional who promised an exact return on your investment? While some marketing fields can use predictive fields to determine an estimated ROI, no one controls Google Search. That means that even the smartest, most-experience industry professionals cannot deliver an exact number of website visitors, click-throughs, or sales.

The next time some guarantees a set volume of traffic to your website, courteously shake their hand, thank them for their time, and walk out the door. They aren’t worth the time or money.

They Only Offer Annual Package Deals

While it’s probably too much to claim that every annual marketing package is a bad deal, almost every annual marketing package is a bad deal! We hear time and time again how contractors sign up for an annual contract, get results for a few months, and never hear from their marketing management again for the rest of the year. You can bet they’ll be ready to talk you into another year, but results seem to come up short every time.

The most dependable companies price month to month, and they offer clear pricing guidelines so you know what you’re paying for.

Finding Great Results

Don’t let your heating and cooling business get sucked into a long-term marketing bust. Keep these red flags in mind as you move forward, and you can avoid those painful experiences that so many HVAC businesses suffer each year. Everything changes when you find the right marketing firm for your team!

At HVAC Webmasters, we have the experience, reputation, and results to earn your business. We skip the annual contracts in favor of month-to-month pricing, so you can rest assured we’re working hard to grow your company and online brand. Through custom web design, local SEO strategy, and crisp reputation management, we’ve managed to help hundreds of businesses find the online success they crave!

To learn more about our services, talk with one of our experts at (800) 353-3409.

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True Client Stories: I Failed Online So I’m Joining a Franchise…

Franchises off some alluring benefits to HVAC professionals just starting off, but not all brands are created equal. Is joining on truly the best move for your business, or could you earn better growth through other means?

Jason and Nolen reveal a true tale of a heating and cooling contractor thrust into this difficult choice. Be sure to listen in if you’ve considered joining a franchise.

Helpful Lessons for HVAC Professionals

  • The main value of franchise marketing is brand recognition.
  • Franchise marketing doesn’t work if your community isn’t familiar with the brand your company operates under.
  • Always check to see if the franchise already ranks well organically!
https://youtu.be/17gmaWrkQnA

Joining a Franchise

Starting an heating and cooling company is tough work! Raising it off the ground into a developed brand is an even more difficult task, with many professionals never overcoming the challenge. That’s what makes joining a franchise such an enticing solution for HVAC professionals.

By taking on the name and guidance of a parent brand, they gain access to certain marketing perks that could help them earn more leads.

Franchising Benefits

Joining a Franchise: The Pros

Brand recognition is huge when it comes to online marketing. When people search your brand directly in Google, their odds of converting into customers jumps way up over keyword searches. Many fresh-faced contractors are particularly keen to win that recognition when they sign up as a franchisee.

In addition to this brand access, many franchises offer specialized marketing tools for connecting with potential leads. These may include email templates, physical collateral (like pamphlets), and other digital marketing resources. This makes it easier for technicians who have little to no experience with advertising online.

The Costs of Franchising

Joining a Franchise: The Cons

First, franchise brands take a percentage of your income. That money typically doesn’t come out after taxes either; it comes from your gross profits. This means tens of thousands of dollars withdrawn every year. You’ll feel the loss during seasons of aggressive growth, and you’ll definitely notice it during slow seasons.

Parent brands also exercise significant control over their franchisees. This could mean your company is obligated to only work with certain marketing agencies, or that you have to pay fees for help from the parent brand. It might seem like a lot of money, but it could add up over time.

Franchising Decision Time

The guiding principle and goal behind franchising is to strengthen the overarching brand while providing better sales for the ground level contractors. In theory, an HVAC professional who becomes a franchisee should earn more money than they did before because people are comfortable with the brand. This natural raises a crucial question:

What if no one is familiar with the franchise brand?

If no one in your community recognizes the brand you’ve associated your services with, then they have no built up trust with that name. Even worse, that means that the brand has little-to-no organic presence in local search. If homeowners and commercial clients can’t even find your website, then how are they going to hire your services?

Adding to this concern is the fact that many franchises tightly control who you can use for your online marketing services. If they have a preferred (mandatory) partnership with an ineffective marketing agency, that could leave you stuck with mediocre results for the long-term. Now, all these concerns may be for naught if your franchising company is a household name, but then you’d also be paying more for the franchise rights each year.

Local Results Showing Organic and Paid Listings
Google Prefers to List Local Businesses, So Franchises Often Rely on Expensive Ads.

Is Joining a Franchise Worth It?

If you can secure a relationship with a widely known brand at a decent profit percentage, joining a franchise may be worth it. If the company that you’re considering doesn’t have brand recognition (in your area) or strong local rankings, then there’s no reason to join them. You could do better on your own with an optimized website, consistent reviews, and citations! Google prefers showing local businesses anyway, meaning you have a great chance of winning quality search ranks.

Looking to Grow Organically?

If you want to grow your own business and keep your profits, then local search optimization is the way to go. Our team at HVAC Webmasters would love to support your business with optimized web design, professional writing, and powerful reputation management. We’ve helped countless professionals earn page 1 rankings and dominate local search!

To learn more about online marketing, or to consult with an expert and see if joining a franchise is right for you, call us at (800) 353-3409.

Other Resources from HVAC Webmasters

Articles and Podcasts for Further Study
Understanding Your HVAC Brand Online (Podcast)
You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Win at HVAC SEO (Podcast)
The Untold Dangers of Website Templates (Article)

Related HVAC Web Services
HVAC Brand Development
HVAC Company Reviews
Content Marketing for HVAC Companies

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  • contractors of america best digital agency
  • expertise.com best seo agencies in fort worth

Understanding Your HVAC Brand Online (Podcast)

In 2021, Branding for HVAC companies isn’t the same as it was two decades ago. When it comes to creating exposure for your HVAC business, nothing fights more challenging for your company than your online brand. If you want to earn more clients (who doesn’t?), you’ll need to understand Google’s local search process and how people find your brand.

On today’s podcast, Jason and Nolen dive into some of the general strategies behind online branding. Be sure to listen in if your business has struggled to make headway in local search ranking! Keep an ear open for these essential tips too.

Tips for HVAC Professionals:

  • Even Google needs help separating your business from others.
  • The search engine uses E-A-T to gauge your brand suitability.
  • Traditional advertising sees increasingly low ROIs.
  • Many companies see zero brand visibility without a GMB listing.
  • Google (currently) sees your website’s age as your company age.
https://youtu.be/D7Ir1H4Uafo

The Makeup of Your HVAC Brand

What is an “online brand” for an HVAC company?

  • The Domain Name (or .com)
  • The Google My Business Listing
  • All Company Reviews
  • Blogging and Other Content Updates
  • Branded / Direct Searches
  • Citations
  • Google Map Postings
  • Social Media Accounts / Activity

Google examines all of these signals to determine the value (or suitability) of your online brand. Keep in mind; the search engine has thousands of similar business listings to sort through and hundreds of millions of related pages on top of those! So even the catchiest brand name can get lost in the overwhelming number of industry competitors.

Let’s break down these branding facets into three different categories: Identity, Ability, and Activity.

Online Branding on an HVAC Website

Establishing Online Brand Identity

Your Target Branding Tools

  • GMB Listing
  • Domain Name
  • Citations
  • Social Media (Accounts)

Despite popular opinion to the contrary, Google is not an all-knowing force of the industry. The search engine’s understanding is limited to the information that users provide. Google can’t produce data from anything.

So if you think that Google knows about your 3rd generation plumbing company and overwhelming client satisfaction rate, you might be dead wrong.

A Star Brand is Born

Google My Business for Online Branding
Google My Business Makes it Easier to Earn Traffic!

Most (if not all) company online brands begin with listings and citations. Physical location, company age, operating hours, industry type, service area, and other data paint an essential portrait of your business. You’ll want to provide this data to as many established citation companies as possible.

When it comes to local search, the ideal place to kick off your brand is Google My Business (GMB). 

GMB listings are essential for appearing in local search results, but they also provide helpful interaction capabilities with potential clients via the Knowledge Graph tool. According to consumer research, 56% of search users who interact with your GMB listing use it to visit your website. Additionally, 24% use them to call your business directly (Statista).

Grab Those Citations

Of course, sharing your company information with citation sources like Yelp, Facebook, BBB, and Manta will further establish the identity of your online brand. They also facilitate the review process, a crucial part of establishing your services. We’ll talk more about this later.

For now, make sure that the information you provide across your sources is consistent. Even the way you abbreviate your physical address matters! If your HVAC business has the opportunity, you might also want to list it in relevant industry publications.

Stand Out With Your Domain

Another essential branding tool in your question for local search traffic is your domain name. What a make-or-break decision! While many companies mistake targeting generic keywords and city/state combinations, this tactic only makes your brand harder for Google to distinguish.

The best domain names combine HVAC terminology with something quirky or memorable. For instance, real-world company Main Street Heating & Cooling realized their domain name needed to be a little more distinct than their usual title. So they chose mainstreetcomfort.com, a domain name that Google can easily distinguish from other industry competitors.

On a side note, make sure you register your domain under your business’ name, not the hosting company’s, to avoid potential problems when your registration approaches expiration.

Proving Online Brand Ability

Your Target Branding Tools:

  • Website Content
  • Customer Reviews
  • Citations

Just about anyone can set up a website and claim to provide AC repairs. Thousands of professionals boast in their “best AC repairs” and “affordable furnace maintenance”, but Google only shows a handful in front page local results. So how does the search engine decide who gets picked?

E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness

In its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google has expressly stated that it looks for these qualities as it judges content. These brand values, however, can be evaluated even beyond the actual business website and service pages.

Reviews Build Credibility for Your Business and Confirm Your Service Offerings.

Online Branding Through Service Reviews
Reviews Build Credibility for Your Business and Confirm Your Service Offerings.

Matching Claims With Results

To prove your online brand’s trustworthiness, Google needs to match up the claims of your website (such as what services you provide) with the testimonies of relevant sources. One of the most powerful channels of information in the evaluation process is your client reviews. Not only do they speak to the general quality of your services, but they also verify that your company does what you say it does.

Having multiple citations enables reviews from a variety of sources. If you continue to ask for reviews after finished jobs, that means numerous sources will be confirming your brand’s abilities! As your team gains more experience and your website ages, Google will reward this proven ability with higher rankings in local search.

Engaging in Brand Activity

Your Target Branding Tools

  • Blogging
  • Customer Reviews
  • Direct Searches
  • Content Updates
  • Social Media (Posting)

Online branding is an ongoing process. While Coca-Cola and other multi-billion dollar brands can sit back and rest on their laurels, HVAC professionals have to fight to maintain their top position. Since Google doesn’t have real-world eyes watching as company’s open and close their business, the search engine relies on online branding activity to infer these details.

Content Marketing and Online Branding
Your Blog Can Be a Powerful Tool for Branding, if You Use it Right!

Managing Content & Reviews

When a site goes live, Google crawlers make their way through the pages to analyze the content. So Crawling is how Google creates an initial picture of what your business does. Later on, these same crawlers revisit the site, on the hunt for new content. The process goes on and on over the years.

If the bots repeatedly find no new content, Google might believe your business has closed down. That’s why so many HVAC companies who enjoyed top rankings find themselves on the back pages of local search.

So what online brand activity can your business use to stay up-to-date?

Content Marketing & Refurbishing

Blogging is the go-to tool for many HVAC businesses. Not only does it provide proof of continued activity, but it’s also the perfect way to earn featured listings and other high-traffic search results. Of course, Facebook Posts and Instagram posts also help, especially with original visual content.

Older content can spring back to life too. For example, some of your business’s most valuable assets are your service pages and handy guides. Take time every year to assess this valuable content and refurbish them for fresh value. You can even take advantage of this cyclical editing to amp up your keyword strategy!

Building a Review Bank

As we like to say, reviews are one of the purest forms of digital currency. Not only do they pay huge dividends with Google’s perception of your online brand, but they also encourage other consumers to try out your HVAC company! Most companies partly understand the value of customer feedback, but few make the necessary effort to collect it.

If you only take one lesson away from this discussion, let it be this: never stop asking for reviews! Train your team to ask for them immediately after repairs. Follow up with clients after installations and explain how important their feedback is to your business’ growth. You’ll be amazed just how much your online brand will climb the local search rankings.

Start Building Your Brand

Ready to start crafting a brand that lasts? Our team at HVAC Webmasters would love to help! Not only do our clients enjoy impressive rankings in local search, but they also earn higher quality leads. With years of experience in the industry, you can expect powerful results from our team of seasoned content writers, SEO specialists, website designers, and editors.

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HVAC Marketing On The Cheap (Podcast)

Almost every business begins with little to no funds for marketing. As a result, even experienced companies can experience a dry season. However, a few steps could make all the difference in the coming years instead of battening down the hatches and doing nothing.

Today, Jason and Nolen discuss how to start up your HVAC marketing plan even if you don’t have lots of funds. They’ll focus primarily on growing your search presence, which gradually creates a steady influx of HVAC leads for your business. So if you’re operating on a tight budget, be sure to listen in.

HVAC Marketing Tips for Professionals:

  • Always begin by setting up your Google My Business account.
  • Buy a cheap template site to start developing your online presence.
  • Start asking for client reviews, and never stop!
  • Register your domain as close to your name as possible. Avoid generics.
https://youtu.be/POSZzdTkRiI

Low Budget Marketing

Let’s not waste time. There’s an ideal way to do online search marketing, but sometimes a tight budget prevents people from choosing the best. That’s life. Thankfully, you don’t have to sit on your hands and hope that business will pick up enough to start getting online clients one day!

The following HVAC marketing plan focuses on free and extremely low-cost solutions that will build a foundation for your brand. We need to be extremely clear: you (probably) will not notice tremendous results from the start. However, your business will be in a much better place six months from now if you faithfully follow this process.

Here we go.

Step #1: Get Listed in GMB

Google My Business (GMB) offers free listings to help your business get started in local search. These listings are essential if you want any organic leads. According to a recent publication by Search Engine Journal and extensive research by Merkle, “Organic search produced 23% of all site visits in Q2 2019.” However, without registering your company with GMB, your company is unlikely to earn any leads from Google.

Steps for Registering Your GMB Account

  1. 1. Go to google.com/business/ and get started.
  2. 2. Submit your company name, location, and industry information.
  3. 3. Set your service radius from your business address (or home).
  4. 4. Submit your contact information.
  5. 5. Choose a method to confirm your listing with Google, then confirm.
Picture of HVAC GMB

Step #2: Build a Cheap Website

There’s a couple of sweet spots for getting the biggest bang for your marketing budget (or lack thereof) when it comes to website design. On the low end of the spectrum, we’ve found that it’s usually better for startups to begin with a free template design or something dirt cheap. There’s no illusion of fanciness or complicated optimization.

Many HVAC companies start experiencing problems when they move beyond the $100 threshold. Of course, you’d expect somewhat higher results and capabilities from a $300 website, but most companies who offer those design packages use a cheap template anyway. So you might as well save the money and invest it in another part of your business.

Cheap Website Templates for HVAC Marketing

Source: ThemeForest

Step #3: Register Your Domain

Your domain name (the address or URL) is one of the most crucial branding assets your company will ever claim. Of course, you must protect it at all costs, but most businesses don’t even know how to pick a compelling name. There are a few basic rules to follow when it comes to selecting and claiming your domain.

Aim for a very memorable and non-generic domain name!

Generic names are harder to rank for in search. Business listings with ultra-generic names (dallasheatingandcooling.com, for instance) may not even show up in search. People should remember your name and laugh, then for them not to remember your name at all!

On an equally important note, make sure that you own the domain name, not a hosting company. You don’t want any complications with your host trying to sell the domain to another business. Believe us; it’s happened too many times!

Reviews Can Make or Break Your Reputation. So always Ask Happy Customers for Feedback!

Domain Name Search

Step #4: Ask for Reviews

Reviews are a form of online currency, but they’re so much more. Client feedback is a testament to your team’s capabilities and your customer service. Unfortunately, most people forget to provide reviews unless they’ve had an awful experience. 

That’s why you and your team must consistently ask your clients for reviews. Don’t wait either! Ask immediately after concluding services. At the very latest, you might wish to wait a couple of days (say after an installation) to follow up and ask for reviews. Asking in person creates goodwill with the existing client and trust with prospective consumers.

Google prefers reviews to come from various resources, so try to spread out the feedback between Google, Facebook, and other citations. By routinely asking happy clients for reviews, you’ll easily drown out any different sort of negative complaints from that odd customer.

Review Management Tool on an HVAC Website

Step #5: Review Your Progress

Once you gained some ground in local search, leads should start to come in at a much faster rate. That steady stream of business to your website means you’ll have better funds for future marketing ideas! You can even take some time to upgrade your website and strengthen your brand.

When that day comes, we hope you’ll partner with the HVAC Webmasters

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Should You Halt SEO During Slow HVAC Seasons?

One of the most alarming of all the Google search trends we observe at HVAC Webmasters is seasonal drop-offs. In other words, HVAC companies are dropping off of the front page. Of course, ranking changes happen, but many heating and cooling professionals inflict this problem on themselves.

“Should I halt my HVAC SEO efforts during the slow seasons?” 

On today’s podcast, HVAC Webmasters answers this fundamental question and why you should rarely abandon search engine optimization altogether. Be sure to listen in if your company ever struggles to earn sustained lead generation.

Key Points to Hold Onto:

  • Google doesn’t recognize the seasonal shifts for HVAC businesses.
  • Seasonal PPC campaign changes are okay, but neglecting SEO isn’t.
  • Continued efforts during slow seasons could net you better rankings!
https://youtu.be/v0WTMEKQOwc

Fighting The Urge to Drop Off

Google search trends show it, and HVAC professionals know it: the heating and cooling industry naturally booms during the hot and cold seasons. That’s why so many businesses strip down to a skeleton crew in the spring and fall. Since business starts to lag during these months, many companies think online marketing can follow suit.

PPC campaigns and social media work can handle the downtime. However, organic SEO is another story. Extended periods of inactivity typically result in severe rank drops. When the slow period ends and the busy season roars back to life, your website will face an uphill battle to recoup the traffic losses.

Compelling Reasons to Maintain SEO Ranking

When marketing stops, ranking power gradually drops too. However, instead of stopping there, let’s explore some key Google search trends that provide more compelling reasons to continue your organic SEO efforts during the slow seasons.

Competition

When the Competition Takes a Break…

The fabled Tortoise and Hare story teach the dangers of untimely breaks. But, on the flip side of that story, we learn that it’s a beautiful opportunity to gain some ground when the competition takes some time off! Google search trends teach us that many HVAC professionals take some time off from marketing during the spring and fall seasons.

That’s the perfect time to rank up in local search!

Continue writing your keyword-rich blog articles. Take some time to update and enhance your service pages for a more substantial user experience. Keep collecting reviews! As competition naturally starts to fall in local search rankings and your brand starts to climb, you’ll be in prime position for the next busy season!

Continued Need

HVAC SEO Still Earns Leads

While volume may start to drop as part of the seasonal Google search trends, consumers still need their heating and cooling services! Nowhere is this more true than in Texas and other warm climates, where high temperatures naturally extend far into the fall. But, unfortunately, homeowners and businesses continue to experience part failures, even if it’s on a smaller scale.

With fewer competitors actively courting these consumers, that’s more revenue for your business to pursue. But, of course, these clients contribute to your reviews, too, sharpening your image for the upcoming busy months.

Even in the spring and fall, consumers continue to research replacement options for their furnaces and air conditioning units. So if you start planting seeds during the off-season, there’s a good chance you’ll earn some precious replacement leads in the future. That’s one more reason to make sure your page content is top-notch, answer key consumer questions, and providing tips into the search process.

Branding

Establishing Your Brand

For up-and-coming HVAC companies, branding can make or break your business’ future. As other contractors take a break, that’s the perfect time to get noticed and spread the word about your brand. Continue to optimize your website for local search, even when more prominent brands are taking a break.

If Google search trends are anything to go by, the search engine rewards businesses that release new content and update old resources. As a result, you could earn significant exposure for your HVAC company brand and some lifelong clients in the process. That’s more than enough reason to persevere during the off-seasons.

Want Some Marketing Advice?

When industry norms say it’s time to break from marketing, Google search trends tell a different story. With a qualified organic SEO plan, social media campaigning, and (maybe) some seasonal PPC ads, you could earn some fantastic leads even in a slow season. Make your brand advance through the ranks while competitors start to fade.

Our team at HVAC Webmasters would love to support your marketing plan! Our web design, local search, and PPC advertising services enable our clients to capture front-page rankings and remarkable lead generation. If you’ve been looking for a marketing team to partner with, see why many heating and cooling professionals choose our seasoned team.

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Why Regular Web Work is Important for SEO (Podcast)

When creating a functional HVAC SEO plan, many heating and cooling professionals settle for piecemeal strategies. Today, Nolen and Jason of HVAC Webmasters discuss why SEO is so often an all-or-nothing venture. A Cohesive effort makes for lasting results. If your HVAC business struggles with creating traffic online or converting clicks into leads, be sure to listen closely.

Key Points to Listen For: 

  • SEO for HVAC requires consistent updates and fresh content.
  • SEO is a holistic effort. Piecemeal plans fall flat.
  • Geotagged Reviews and Check-ins create fantastic growth potential.
  • SEO Solutions only work when they get used consistently.
https://youtu.be/2JkQ2MG_oCE

Lining Up Your SEO Ducks

True or false: website content lasts forever. While adages may suggest that whatever content you post online lasts forever, please don’t listen to them. Your content may last as long as your domain does, but it could lose its potency long before then. In reality, websites need to faithfully make SEO updates if they wish to keep ranking on the front page of Google Search results.

  • “That’s okay. We post to our company blog every month. We’re fine!”
  • “But My HVAC company earns reviews for every job we complete.”
  • “When we launched our site, we used a lot of hot keywords.”
  • “Our social media presence will keep us going indefinitely.”
  • “We’re enjoying fantastic success. We don’t need to make updates!”

At the HVAC Webmasters, we’ve heard all of these responses (and more). Unfortunately, it comes from the mindset that one single element of SEO can carry the rest without any extra effort. Unfortunately, not even the most sophisticated blog, reviews platform, keyword strategy, or social media campaign can create lasting HVAC SEO success by itself. It takes a little bit of everything to preserve your rankings, especially those ranking #1 in Google Search.

A Local Map Pack Shows the Value of Regular SEO Updates
Why Lose Premium Listings By Failing to Complete Regular SEO Updates?

Key SEO Ingredients for HVAC Companies

The extensive list of SEO to-dos is one we recite pretty often at HVAC Webmasters. If you’ve listened to our podcasts before, you’ll know that we’re very fond of reviewing the basics of search engine optimization. So what does it take for a heating and cooling professional to be successful online?

  • Custom Website Development
  • Fresh Coding
  • Keyword-rich Pages
  • Blogging
  • Reviews (from a variety of sources)
  • Google My Business Listings
  • Citations
  • Social Media Presence

Remember, all of these activities contribute towards your overall online marketing success. So there’s a natural order to these, which we’ll touch on later. The key is to create a cohesive plan for all these elements to work in harmony. That’s why HVAC contractors who rely on multiple vendors for their SEO updates so often experience muddied results.

SEO Updates in the Form of a Blog Post
Customer Questions Make for Great Blogging Topics

SEO for HVAC Contractors – A Winning Strategy

So how can you put together a functional SEO strategy and make it easier for your business to consistently rank for those hot keywords? As we mentioned earlier, there’s a natural order for optimization.

How to Order Your SEO Elements:

  1. 1. Complete a Google My Business listing.
  2. 2. Develop a custom website (with coding and keyword-rich content).
  3. 3. Get listed on multiple citation sources: BBB, Angie’s List, etc.
  4. 4. Start asking for reviews after jobs.
  5. 5. Blog at least once a month.
  6. 6. Cultivate your social media presence.

You can use many activities to showcase your brand and earn new business, but these are the most essential.

How to Keep SEO Updates Simple

Setting up all these elements (or paying someone to do it for you) may require a significant investment on your company’s part. Even after completing all the initial setup, there’s still the matter of SEO updates. As Jason puts it in our podcast, picture your website as a physical storefront. If your lights are out, people will think you’re closed.

Google examines hundreds, maybe even thousands of data points to judge whether or not a company is dependable enough to refer users. If your HVAC company creates a new website and leaves it alone for months on end, Google sees a storefront with the lights out. It subsequently lowers your company’s rank in local search. One-off activities like blogging may slow the descent, but not even that will preserve your rankings for long.

So what can your business do to streamline SEO updates and keep your site as visible as possible to both Google and potential customers?

  1. 1. Review your homepage and service pages every quarter. Update as needed.
  2. 2. Write down FAQs from clients and make blog posts each month.
  3. 3. Make sure your Google My Business account stays up to date.
  4. 4. Give “Review Us” cards after each job, or try DataPins.
  5. 5. Take pictures before and after essential jobs. Post to Facebook.
SEO Updates Made Through Facebook

Team Up With the Webmasters

If you want to make your online marketing and SEO updates as easy as possible, team up with the HVAC Webmasters. Our seasoned team of graphic designers, programmers, content writers, SEO strategists, and social media pros support hundreds of contractors around the United States. We’d love to serve you too.

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3 Essential Online Review Sites For HVAC Companies in 2022

The HVAC industry is fiercely competitive. However, there’s no silver bullet to make your company succeed online. However, after decades of experience as HVAC SEO specialists, HVAC Webmasters knows that it takes many little things done well to help improve Google rankings and get your phone ringing daily. One of those “little things” is online review sites.

We’ll talk about how to get HVAC reviews another time, but in the following post, let’s focus on which sites will drive leads to your company and how you should manage the content on those listings to stand out from the crowd.

1) Google Business Profile (Formerly Google My Business)

Hands down, the most critical citation listing for your HVAC company is Google Business Profile. GBP is a rich listing that you can claim and manage, allowing you to create a strong profile directly tied to Google. Because Google is still the search engine king, it’s only logical that you would do anything you can to appeal to this resource, with top rankings as the goal of a well-played organic SEO strategy. 

One of the pleasant aspects of Google Business Profile is managing your company listing from a user-friendly dashboard. The information you enter updates instantly across Search and Google Maps. Because local searches for heating and cooling repairs are vital when service areas are fixed, this is the absolute best way to keep your NAP accurate in the most visible listing you’ll have.

Optimizing Your GBP Listing

Putting myself in the customer’s shoes, one of my favorite things about using Google to search for HVAC repairs near me is how much information I have at my fingertips when those results come back. I can click on a business name from the map results- a familiar spot to launch research when proximity matters, especially true for emergent repairs- and see an excellent overview of data about that company.

I may go ahead and place a call for service from this view alone without ever having visited the HVAC company website. (And that’s not to say that your primary website isn’t essential. It’s a vital tool for ranking well on Google and ensuring that your company is toward the top of the Map results to get that click!)

But here’s the thing, even if you’re optimizing well, if you haven’t claimed and updated your GMB listing, you may never get that call due to incorrect information. A simple typo could cost you tons of calls, and a poor user experience could result in your business tanking in the rankings.

However, with a substantial listing that incorporates keywords throughout the quality content and a linked listing that connects viewers to your website for more info (like service pages with excellent on-page SEO), you’re far more likely to earn their business.

Google Business Tools for HVAC Pros

A new Google Ad feature worth mentioning here is the Google Guarantee badge. These are paid listings (versus organic results, which are still typically seen as most valuable), but they add an extra layer of comfort for customers who want the backing of a third party.

HVAC Google Guaranteed Results

This feature ties to your GMB account and lets you manage communication via Local Services booking. Because Google is recognized as an authority and trusted by billions of users, this paid listing could help a newly launched domain see some action before it has put in the years to rank organically.

2) Yelp

Millions of users continue to favor the Yelp app and website for finding everything from restaurants to air conditioning specialists in their area. (In fact, there is even a quick-select icon for Heating & Air Conditioning on the app’s landing page!) Because the app is closely tied to mobile use, the local search aspect is clutch and provides a good user experience.

The other benefit to users is review-rich pages tied to an identified reviewer (versus anonymous posts). Sure, you’ll still find some absurd nonsense, but it’s not nearly as rampant as sites that allow unidentified reviews.

HVAC Company Yelp Listing

Yelp reviews tend to be more detailed than other online review sources, so having an excellent listing for your HVAC business on Yelp is a fantastic offering for potential customers to find you…and be impressed.

Pro Tip: Respond To Yelp Reviews From HVAC Customers

While this might not seem like the SEO tips you’d expect from us, it’s essential to realize that engaging with customers is vital for the life of your company. Of course, this is true of almost any industry, but because you have a tremendous opportunity to earn business from personal referrals, thinking about how you engage with the customer is an excellent investment of time and energy.

Social media marketing, for example, hinges on good engagement to get your posts seen and allow your business to thrive online.

Replying to reviews on sites such as Google and Yelp is a great way to show that you appreciate your customers and tune in to what they need. Even if a review was mediocre, when a business owner responds respectfully and professionally, that still leaves me with a positive impression of the company. The response can be more valuable than the review or star-rating itself.

3) Facebook

You may not think of this as a review site, but it’s not uncommon for Facebook reviews to appear on a Google homepage for a company listing. As we covered earlier when discussing the power of Google rankings, a potential customer may not even make it to your website, but they will likely check out a few ratings before clicking the phone number from the SERP.

So while a user would have to be logged in to leave a comment or dive deep into Facebook content, reviews are visible to everyone (with or without an account) and should be considered necessary for your online reputation.

When potential customers vet your company for their HVAC repair business, they may start with a Google search of your company name and then check out serval online review sites to get a sense of the service you offer. Because of the incredible traffic that Facebook receives, this listing usually shows up fairly high in the rankings and should therefore be given plenty of love.

Screenshot of Facebook Business Page for Local HVAC Company

If you’re all reviews and no content, the viewer may be less inclined to pull the trigger. So don’t forsake developing a great secondary website with your social media business pages, starting with Facebook for Business.

Getting Good Reviews For HVAC Services

While we’ve spent most of this article talking about how to best claim and manage these various online review sites for your HVAC company, they won’t do you (or your customers) much good if there are no reviews to view.

While there are some tools for making review requests more streamlined, the fact remains that you have to ask for them. It’s assumed that only a tiny percentage of customers are likely to follow through to leave a review — good or bad — after their heating and cooling repairs, so you’ve got to be diligent about asking everyone to improve the odds of getting a decent turn-out.

We know that consumer behavior shows that folks are likelier to call a service provider with lots of reviews, but a mid-to-high star rating, versus a company with just a handful of reviews, even if they’re all five stars. So the quantity weighs Google rankings, too, whether the reviews are made on your GBP page or elsewhere.

For Facebook specifically, you have the benefit of a more engaged user than you’d find on Google, for example. The billions of Facebook users spend a lot of time on the social network every day, so don’t hesitate to post every so often a request for existing customers to post a review.

And if you’re trying to build up reviews on Yelp versus Facebook, tell them! It’s perfectly acceptable to make it known that you’re trying to bolster your brand reputation on a given site, but the key is to provide a link to make it as easy as possible for an existing customer to help you out. Please don’t make them search, or you’ll likely lose that willing participant.

Other Citation Sites for Heating and Cooling Repairs

Here are a few other online review sites/directories that help connect HVAC pros to new customers:

  • Angi
  • HomeAdvisor
  • Porch
  • Thumbtack

While quantity helps search engines recognize your business as reputable, it’s also worth investing some time into each listing. You can ensure a vital entry point for new HVAC customers to find your business and get those online review sites; working for you.