As an HVAC provider, it’s very difficult to be able to run a business AND learn all there is to SEO to beat your competition. This task is difficult and time-consuming for everyone who runs their own business or has a full-time job at the very least! We figured we would simplify some SEO issues for all you HVAC guys who want to brave the way yourself by publishing a list of common SEO mistakes made on HVAC websites.
At Austin Bryant Consulting, we want everyone to succeed. It’s a way of working with others that motivates our team and makes our work fulfilling. So this goes out to all the folks who need some help with their HVAC SEO…. Behold the list of common mistakes AND the fixes to push the direction of your website closer to the first page!
Technical tips for HVAC cavemen
This section is equally as important as the rest. We’re beginning with the technical stuff because our SEO services start from the ground up, so it’s important to get the technical issues right from the start. With a sound SEO structure, it’s much easier to focus on the other aspects of making your site more competitive. (Have you read “Why is HVAC So Hard to Do SEO for? You should!)
#1. You made a messy or confusing homepage
One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your website is to make it confusing to navigate. You want people to land on your website and be able to find exactly what they want within one click. If you have a messy homepage with too much text and it isn’t clear what they should do next-you’re going to lose them.
Your homepage should be like a freeway with lots of road signs on where they can get off and find their destination.
The first thing you should do before publishing any pages on your brand-new website is write down the most important services or products. From here you can decide on the pages to publish and where the services/products will live on your website. Even if you already have a website, do this exercise and make sure you’re on the right track.
Most of the web designs that are user-friendly will use big buttons or images to highlight the services that the owner wants you to go to.
It’s a very common setup to have every service or top story or top article front and center of the homepage to reduce the chance the user will go somewhere else.
Use big image links, buttons, and a navigation bar to ensure your users can find what they’re looking for immediately without thinking too much.
#2. You didn’t optimize your URLs
The URL is the web address of your pages. It’s important to make sure that your URLs are descriptive, make sense, and are optimized with a keyword to give your page a competitive edge. A common SEO mistake made on HVAC websites is to use the default WordPress URL that is assigned when you publish a page.
They can often look like this: https://domain.com/p-9785694
When your website is new and you haven’t published a page yet, the solution is very straightforward. You just need to publish your pages with URLs that describe the page in the simplest way. A person AND a search engine should be able to read a URL and have a very accurate idea of what the page is about.
Can you guess what this page is about?
How about this one?
Just from looking at this URL, you can see the content is an A/C buyers guide that’s been posted in a resources section of the website.
Just do this:
If you have a WordPress website you just need to go to “Settings” then “Permalinks” and select “postname”
Now when you publish a page or post you can choose the best way to summarize your page with a keyword in it.
Remember not to use EVERY single word in your title if it’s longer than 5 words. Keep your URLs simple, descriptive, and optimized.
What happens if I want to change my URL?
If you need to change your URLs you need to do what’s called a 301 redirect. Sound scary? That’s because it is. Kidding! Easy peasy!
Just do this:
Get a plugin called Redirection:
Activate it and then enter the old URL (or source URL). Enter the new URL (target URL) and you’re all good. YOU NEED TO DO THIS IF YOU CHANGE URLs. It tells Google (search engines) that your page has moved, and you won’t lose ranking or power.
#3. Your site structure sucks
SEO has evolved to the point where it’s gone beyond content and backlinks. User experience has taken on a larger role in the way search engines assess websites. If you have a site structure that makes no sense you are losing some easy ways to score with the search engines.
For example, as an HVAC company, you have many different services you offer to clients. Create a silo-like structure to show users and search engines the most important pages on your website. This also helps man and machine understand where they are within the structure of your website at any given moment.
Tale this URL as an example:
In the first example, the subfolders are descriptive, and it becomes obvious how the site is structured at each level. If you realize you’re on the wrong page (furnace repair), you can go back to the “heating” page and find more options for furnace services.
The second URL isn’t terrible BUT it has two potential keywords in it. “Furnace repair” and “Furnace installation” both get two very different monthly search results. It would be better to separate these two keywords because they are two different services.
The second URL doesn’t help you figure out where to go next if you’re not where you want to be. Having the first structure allows a broad scope of services and narrows down in a systematic fashion.
If you haven’t structured your URLs like this on your website, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s also an easy fix.
Place your services into groups. It’s easy to determine where things go when you start at the top. Here’s your first big hint: What goes under heating and what goes under cooling?
Each of these pages now becomes a major pillar of your site. Ironically, they are also major aspects of your business. See where we’re going with this?
Fireplace repair, boiler repair water heater repair can all fall under the “heating” umbrella. The site now shows a major component of its business has to do with heating. A very successful HVAC company that appears on the first page in many different cities has an excellent navigation menu that shows this concept beautifully.
#4. Your website loads slowly
If you haven’t heard by now, here’s a shocking fact: Google loves websites that load quickly. Google also has publicly made it known that it will reward faster-loading websites and penalize websites that move like a constipated 90-year-old man.
— Sébastien Fourault (@SebFourault) November 19, 2019
How do you know if your website is too slow? Check page speed insights.
Chances are you’ll be disappointed with your score! But don’t worry, the saving grace is that most websites’ mobile versions aren’t that fast. This also gives you an opportunity to do a little better than your competition.
What will be VERY effective is to reduce the file size of all of your images. You can also get a plugin for this as well. You can use Smush, which also has a “lazy loading” feature. This will delay loading the images below the fold until you scroll down to them.
One of the easiest ways to maintain your page speed is to use squoosh.io before you even put your images on your website! This miracle of a tool allows you to compress files to 10% of their size AND you can also resize them to fit your page perfectly.
#5. You didn’t optimize for mobile
Did you know that more than 50% of searches are made from a cell phone? Makes sense right? So you would also agree that if your website is not made for mobile devices-you made a big mistake!!
Don’t fret. There are solutions to this problem. First things first. Head on over to the mobile-friendly test. Type in your URL. Google will then tell you whether you pass or fail. To fix the issues, follow their recommendations. It’s that simple.
If you don’t know how or don’t understand what they’re asking you can either call us (well walk you through it) or hire us (we won’t charge you a lot for an HVAC site). Or you can go to any web designer and ask them to make your site mobile-friendly.
#6. You didn’t follow best practices for page titles and meta descriptions
One of the most common SEO mistakes on HVAC websites is messing up the length of the page titles and meta descriptions. Fixing these meta tags is one of the easiest ways to boost your on-page optimization by nailing this aspect down and you can do this today!
Most people search from their phones now (roughly 50%) so you have to remember that the screen size is a lot smaller than that of a laptop. Therefore, it’s a best practice that you keep your page titles under 60 characters and your meta description between 150-160 characters.
Strategic mistakes on important SEO topics
The following section is some of the most common SEO mistakes that fall under the strategic category. These mistakes are easy to fix but if left unaddressed may be the reason your website doesn’t reach its potential.
#7. You never did any keyword research
This aspect of SEO is one of the biggest and most important parts of setting direction, strategy, and expectations. If you never did any research on the keywords that get the most searches or are the most competitive it’s literally like flying a plane in the dark with no equipment to tell you where to land.
“Well, I know what my clients are typing-so I’m good.”
Well, that may be, but keyword research allows you insight into creating variations, short-term, and long-term goals, and competitive analysis, and it structures your content strategy. This is by far one of the most important aspects of SEO because the way to generate the most clients and sales becomes apparent the more you dig deeper into what’s working and what’s not working to convert users into clients.
One example of subtle keyword choices is found in the image below. You can see how the slight difference in spelling makes a huge difference in the cost-per-click AND the volume of monthly traffic! Small subtleties like that will go unnoticed without research.
Not only that but knowing how competitive a keyword is, and what keywords your competitors are ranking for and making money on are very important insights.
Even if you don’t know exactly how to interpret every bit of information you can see the most important aspects: volume, cost per click, and difficulty. These tools will also let you type in your competition’s URL so you can see the keywords they’re using to drive traffic.
Having a good keyword strategy will also allow you to sprinkle more variations within your pages where you’re targeting a specific phrase. You can then use them in your URLs and build a better content strategy to target keywords that require their own page.
#8. You didn’t claim your Google My Business Profile
If you didn’t claim and optimize your business profile on Google My Business-you’re missing out on 50% of your leads. Some companies that have been around for years STILL don’t have a website! But even so, you don’t need one to claim your profile and start generating leads within 5 days.
HVAC is somewhat of a hyper-local business model. People call HVAC companies within their own city to come and repair or install their heating and cooling systems. Since the mindset of most people is to call the closest company (with the best reviews!!), you want your company listed in the top 3 spots of Google local finder.
- Go to Google my business.
- Type in the name of your company.
- If it comes up, “claim” it
- If it doesn’t come up, start the process of listing your business.
- Once finished you will receive a postcard in the mail within 5 business days.
#9. You didn’t optimize your GMB profile
It’s not enough JUST to have your profile listed on Google My Business. You need to make it stand out and be in the top 3 spots, so you get the most views from potential customers. A profile on its own may never float to the top without some help.
- Fill out EVERY field possible in the “Info” section
- Add photos of your interior, exterior, logo, on-the-job, etc
- Add special hours
- Answer questions customers ask (download the GMB app to your phone)
- Post the link to your GBP on your website
- Ask for reviews from EVERY happy client
#10. You never built links to your HVAC website
How often do business owners build links? Not often, but that’s why it’s a common mistake. You NEED links to move your website up in the search results. Even more importantly, you need LOCAL links to move your profile up to Google’s local 3-pack. It’s become essential to get your website on as many top websites as possible. But not just any backlinks. Local links.
- List your website in high authority directories that everyone knows (Yellow Pages, Yelp, Manta, etc.)
- List your website in niche directories that may specialize in HVAC or even just contractors (Homestars, Houzz, HVAC Local, etc.)
- List your website in directories that are tied to your city
- Ask local businesses related to yours to link to your site from theirs (construction company, plumbing company, etc.)
If you can get links from every one of the sources listed above, your website will rise like a rocket to the top of Google for local searches.
#11. You haven’t published location pages
HVAC businesses typically cover a service area that’s not limited to one city. Of course, the large metropolitan cities may have enough work so in that case, you might be ok. If you want to grow bigger than one city, you need to publish what’s called a “location page” so that it shows up when people look for businesses in a specific city.
For example, you might be in Plano, TX but if you want to show up in search results for a term like “furnace repair Austin TX” you will definitely need a page that’s optimized for Austin TX. You need a location page.
Create a page that describes your service in detail. You should already have one like it on your site. Make sure the content is original. You can re-use some things but to get the best results make it as different as possible.
The icing on the cake is to include things unique to the city. So if you’re publishing a location page in Austin TX, you may want to mention the Capital Building. You may also reference the University of Texas.
Include a map! You can get the embed code directly from Google maps. Embed that sucker at the bottom of your page to tie it into the city.
Get all of your on-page optimizations down right. Page title, URL, descriptions, and image alt tags should ALL have your keywords in them. Most likely these keywords will be “service + city”. Like “furnace repair Austin TX”.
SEO is playing the long game
As you can see, there are quite a few things to worry about when you’re putting together a top-ranking HVAC website. And we haven’t even gone into the nitty gritty details yet!
There are still things like broken links, missing alt tags, images that don’t appear, duplicate content, and oh my god my head hurts… Maybe we’ll add them to this article later!
In the meantime, you have some things to work on. If you don’t feel like doing the work yourself, send us a message with your name, number, and URL, and we’ll send you a free SEO assessment of your website.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know EXACTLY what your HVAC website needs to be on the first page of Google? We won’t charge you a thing until you’re ready for us to do the work.
Hopefully, you got a lot out of this, and if you’re still left wanting, feel free to drop us a line and tell us what we missed!
Until then, best of luck!
Christian Carere heads the SEO team here at Austin Bryant Consulting. After building an SEO agency in Toronto (Digital Ducats Inc.) Christian was hired by founder Keith Hunn who has created a full-service digital marketing agency in Plano, TX. Christian has been published on Search Engine Watch, Venngage, Small Biz Daily, Grasshopper, Data Box, Socialnomics, and Mention.