It doesn’t work and also it does work.

People will tell you that SEO is the greatest thing since sliced cinnamon raisin bread. People will also tell you SEO doesn’t work.  It’s a waste of time and money.  They are both right.  It does and doesn’t work and it’s constantly changing.

Ten years ago, when SEO “worked” you could throw money at a website until it showed up first in search results.  Everyone clicked on your site and you made oodles of money.  That doesn’t work anymore.

In the meantime, as we were all getting on the SEO bandwagon, web design evolved.  That evolution has shaped the digital market.  Websites are now built to include SEO.  On-page SEO is now just part of building a website.  You wouldn’t build a house that is not wired for Wi-fi, so why would you build a website not wired for SEO? It’s industry-standard, expected and yes, your competitors are already doing it.

SEO by definition is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s unpaid results.  You need it because your competitors have it.  It’s that simple.  A website without fundamental on-page SEO is showing up with a knife to a gun fight.

In a drag race you want to have the fastest car, at the gym you want to have the strongest muscles and, on the internet, you want to have the most visibility.  Visibility wins.  Visibility gets the traffic. Visibility gets the phone calls.   (*Disclaimer: Visibility doesn’t work by itself.  Especially not in HVAC.  You need a strong brand, a relatable message and positive, believable reviews.)  For the sake of understanding what SEO is and why you need it let’s assume all things are equal between you and your competitors.

Which SEO strategies you put in place directly shape your website’s relationship with search engines.  And let’s be honest, when I say search engine I mean Google.   72.37% of all internet searches are done on Google.   82.72% of mobile searches are on Google.  You care most about mobile, it’s where your future customers are going to search for you.

How internet searches work:

  1. User searches for a need in Google
  2. Results show up that Google believes will meet that need
  3. User decides what result to click on to meet their need

It’s important to tell Google/any search engine what needs your website can meet.  Remember search engines don’t know (or care) if you are a hard-working person, a family-owned business or an all-around great guy.  Search is a business model. Companies like Google want to make money and that means getting users the results they actually want when they search for something.   It’s your job as a business to set up your online presence so that it meets the needs of your customers.

SEO can be broken into two broad areas: on-page and off-page.

On-page SEO is focused on how your website communicates its message.  For example, headlines, page structure and content.

Off-page SEO is focused on things that search engines care about but that may or may not be under your control.  For example, social networks, your competitors, link building and your audience’s online behavior.

Trying to do off-page SEO for a service-based HVAC website focused in a certain area is very often a waste of time and money.   Implementing an on-page SEO strategy for your HVAC business is a must do!   And here are the important steps.

  • Content- This by far the most important part of search engine optimization. Google looks through websites and reads the words.  Then shows the most relevant search results it can when people search.  You want to talk about who you are and what you do.  You want the images on your website to match the words you use.  Your text should gracefully use keywords that are associated with your services and brand.
  • Quality- Create the user experience that your future customer wants. Use good grammar.  Use quality images.  If Google believes people want to see your website, it will show it to them.
  • Keyword research- This one gets tricky. You want to come up with a list of words and terms that describe what you do and are also something that a future customer might type into a search engine.   This is something that people unfamiliar with HVAC often get wrong.  Your keywords should not be “AC repair” or “furnace repair” or “ductless installation.”  Your keywords should look more like “AC repair in Smith county.”  Or “how much is a new ductless system in Smithsville?”   You’re going to use these words and phrases in your content, your titles and in naming photos shown on your website.
  • Keeping content fresh- just when you think your work is done, you need new, fresh content. It helps the user experience and supports your search engine rankings by showing Google that your site is being updated and maintained.  How often?  Weekly is ideal, monthly is ok.  But at the very least look at your content quarterly – you definitely don’t want a spring start up article highlighted on your home page in the middle of December.  Having a blog and testimonial page go a long way to help you keep content fresh.

Generally speaking – and I have been speaking in general terms throughout this article – anyone that pitches you Off-page SEO services that sound too good to be true is probably out to take you for a ride.   Under ideal circumstances an HVAC website can show up well in search engine rankings for about 15 key terms.  This will only slightly directly increase profitability unless you are in a major market.  Your direct spend on SEO should be less than 20% of your total digital marketing budget.  However, the process of optimizing your website with on-page SEO will make it cleaner and better functioning.  This will help other efforts like PPC or online ads succeed.

Scratching your head?  Give me a call.  I love to talk all things internet.


Written by: Jeannie Steinbuch, Digital Sorceress

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