HVAC Marketing is Done Online These Days…
25 years ago, HVAC marketing largely consisted of advertising in the Yellow Pages and sending postcards in the mail.
Those days are long gone, but you probably know that already.
It may seem intimidating to try to figure out the best ways to market your business given all of the possible channels, but that shouldn’t be the case. Truth be told, in 2019, a new customer is likely to find you in one of two ways:
- A referral from a past/current client (which is often likely to include a visit to your social media account and/or website)
- Google search
Let’s actually take a look at some data from Google that outlines the volume of searches for HVAC repair in the United States over the last 15 years:
That should be enough to convince you of how important search is to your industry. (It’s also interesting to see how search volume peaks in June and July and drops in the Fall and Spring).
Now that you’re down to focusing on two channels, marketing your HVAC business should be a lot more manageable.
We’ve worked with HVAC companies throughout the country to generate leads. Whether it was a home owner looking for emergency heating repair, the owner of a new business whose air conditioning died on the hottest day of the year, or a homeowner that simply wants someone to perform seasonal maintenance, these are the HVAC marketing strategies that we’ve used to successfully and consistently generate leads.
SEO for Your Heating and Cooling Company
SEO for HVAC companies is largely an exercise in local SEO, which has a number of components. In other words, the battle for customer’s clicks is done right here:
If your company is not in the maps results, it’s not likely to get the click.
Before we get into the details of the strategies to get you into the local map results, it’s important to understand what Google wants and why these strategies are likely to work.
Google Wants Relevant, High Quality, Trusted Results
Imagine you had the task of determining what websites a Google user sees when someone enters “air conditioning repair near me.”
What criteria would you use to algorithmically decide what the best HVAC companies are?
It’s a tough task, but Google has settled on the following criteria.
How Sure Are We About the Accuracy of the Name, Address, Phone Number of the Possible Results?
The last thing that Google wants is to give a website to a business that closed down two years ago. This is why it is constantly checking to verify the name, address, and phone number (often referred to as NAP by SEOs).
Google crawls sites such as Yelp, your local chamber of commerce, and industry-relevant directories. Step one to doing local SEO is to know what relevant directories your company should be listed on. At the same time, this does not mean that you should list your company on 150 different directories.
Going overboard with directory links was a tactic that SEOs used years ago to manipulate the search engine results and Google caught wind of it. Doing this today could very well land a penalty for your website.
Does Each Company Have Positive or Negative Online Reviews?
Google has determined (correctly, in my opinion) that a company that has a ton of positive online reviews is likely to be reputable.
The only way that you can guarantee that your HVAC company will have positive reviews is to employ an effective reputation management strategy. Having a reputation management strategy as part of your marketing is important for several reasons:
- It will likely help your company to rank better
- Potential customers are likely to see these reviews
I’ll get more into reputation management tactics later in this post.
Which Sites Have Backlinks from Trusted Websites?
If your HVAC company has links coming from home improvement blogs, local newspaper websites, and other types of websites, Google interprets that as a signal of trust.
Would the DIY Network link to a hole-in-the-wall HVAC contractor? Would Bob Vila’s website link to an article about changing air filters if the site didn’t belong to a trusted company?
Obviously, they wouldn’t.
This is why Google monitors what websites are linking to yours website. These links are referred to as “backlinks.”
Link Building is a Key Component to SEO
Building links to your website is arguably the most impactful thing in SEO.
It is also the most time-consuming and knowledge-intensive.
Links in articles like the one below are often the key to getting your HVAC company to rank well in local SEO (the orange letters link to another website about pollutants in air filters):
Linkbuilding is something that is best left to a professional. If you’d like help with building links to your website, contact us here.
Writing Content is Another Key to Successful SEO for HVAC Companies
Writing content for your website does three important things for your SEO:
- It provides something worth linking to. Reaching out to other websites with an email begging for links will be a massive waste of time. You’ll need to produce something worth actually linking to. This could be a how-to about something you know a lot about, it could be a series of reviews, or anything that another website owner would think is valuable. Without link-worthy content, your linkbuilding efforts will be dead on arrival.
- It establishes topical relevance for your website. If your website is putting out monthly tutorials that answer people’s questions about HVAC, Google will take notice. When the time comes for it to recommend a “furnace repairman near me” and your website is the one in town that Google users seem to really like, you’re going to be a lot more likely to show up in the results.
- It shows your website to be fresh and regularly updated. Like I said earlier, Google doesn’t want to recommend the website of a company that closed down nine months ago. An actively updated website indicates that the business is active and open for business.
Try Google Local Service Ads
The downside to SEO is that it takes time.
Luckily, Google has paid services that will place you at the top of the search results.
While you may have heard of Google Adwords (now called “Google Ads”), there is now a service called “Google Local Services” that comes up in the results above the paid search, map, and organic results:
There are a few interesting things about the local service ads.
To start, you only pay for leads, not clicks. This is great, since it really cuts down on the irrelevant clicks that plague pay-per-click campaigns.
Also, there is an approval process that can be a bit of a pain. You’ll need to submit proof of insurance, your professional licenses, and pass a background check, but it cuts out a lot of your competitors that aren’t willing to go through the process.
Local Service Ads vs. PPC
We noticed a big change when Google rolled out the local service ads in our clients’ areas.
PPC campaigns that were driving dozens of leads a month started to completely dry up, as people were not scrolling past the local service ads and down to the PPC ads.
We ended up stopping PPC for any of our HVAC clients that were in markets where Google Local Service Ads were available because virtually no one was clicking on them and financially, the Local Service Ads were more profitable.
In a nutshell, you should be running local service ads.
Have a Mobile-Optimized, Fast-Loading, Attractive Website that Reflects the Quality of Your Service
Having a mobile-optimized website is a must if you want to be found online.
Google has been rolling out a mobile-first index, which means that eventually, it will only crawl and index the mobile version of your website.
Coupling this with a penalty for website that are not mobile-friendly, your mobile-unfriendly website will be little more than a doorstop.
How Fast Does Your Website Load on Smartphones?
Research shows that if your mobile site takes more than 3 seconds to load, visitors will hit “back” on the browser and leave your website.
If this happens only a handful of times every year, imagine how many thousands of dollars in business you may be missing out on…
There’s a website call GTMetrix where you can not only test the speed of your site, but also get recommendations for speeding it up.
We have developers on staff that specialize in speeding up WordPress sites. We can often cut down your load time by half, but first, check if you need some help. Click here to test your website.
How Clear is the Messaging on Your Website?
One of the weakest links that we find on the websites of HVAC companies is the messaging.
This is often because the site was built by a developer, not a marketer.
Marketers that offer web design services are better prepared to communicate the message that you want to convey in a way that will be more conducive to SEO. While some developers may talk a good game and others will freely admit that they know nothing about SEO, a marketer will have the experience to know how to write the headers in an SEO-friendly manner.
Additionally, a marketer will be better prepared to craft your messaging in a way that clearly communicates the following:
- The exact services you provide. You would be surprised how many HVAC companies don’t state whether they do residential, commercial, and/or industrial services.
- The areas you service. A key part to ranking for “HVAC repair in Houston” is to have the words “HVAC Repair in Houston” somewhere in the headers of the page you want to rank. Amazingly enough, this gets overlooked all the time.
- Why customers hire you. You can usually differentiate yourself in one of three ways: better, cheaper, or faster. Determine which adjectives best describe your business and figure out a way to explain it.
Is the Copy on Your Site SEO-Optimized?
Ten years ago, keyword density was all the rage in SEO.
That is no longer the case.
While some SEOs will go on about LSI keywords (which Google is probably not using) and keyword density, I’m not referring to either when I refer to optimization of copy for SEO.
What I’m referring to is thoroughness.
If there is a page on a website about dog biscuits, Google determines whether the post covers the topic well by looking at co-occurring terms. In other words, it should also mention “hygiene,” “training,” “vitamins,” and a slew of other terms related to the topic of dog biscuits.
Basic keyword research can help to identify these topics. You can check out this post if you’re interested in learning more about it.
Social Media Marketing for Your HVAC Business
Social media is where most online conversations are taking place. Conversations like these are taking place on Facebook every day:
Not having any sort of social media presence means you’re not even an option if someone decides to recommend you.
As you can see, the above post had 89 responses to it, yet it took several comments before this popped up:
This is going to be a lot easier for the original poster to find the company than cutting and pasting a bunch of company names into Google using a cellphone.
By having an actively monitored Facebook page with reviews, you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate that you’re a reputable company and it will be easy for referrals to contact you.
Should I Boost the Posts for My HVAC Business?
We have yet to encounter an HVAC company that has gotten clients for repair jobs from boosting posts.
Boosting Facebook posts is usually most effective for businesses that simply want to let people know that their services exist or to get top of mind. It is highly unlikely that someone is going to see your boosted post and say “you know, I’m tired of all the bursting pipes in my house. I should call the guy in this boosted post and get my heating turned back on.”
When someone needs to have their air conditioning or heating fixed, they don’t sit around—they ask around or they get on Google to find someone.
One BIG exception to this rule is seasonal maintenance. Some people are unaware of the benefits of having seasonal maintenance done to their HVAC systems and Facebook ads can be a valuable way to inform and turn them into customers.
Facebook Ads for HVAC Seasonal Maintenance
There’s no need to tell you that the average homeowner has no idea about seasonal maintenance of their HVAC systems.
Facebook ads are an effective way to educate customers about the benefits of having a professional come out and perform seasonal maintenance and if done right, could result in recurring revenue for your company.
Shoot Video, Don’t Do Static Ads
One study by Hubspot showed that videos perform 20% better than static ads on Facebook.
Video is a lot more engaging, and with the ubiquity of high-quality smartphone cameras, you can probably shoot a really good tutorial on what you do to keep HVAC systems running optimally and the long-term savings a homeowner is likely to see.
Wrapping Up: What About the Costs of Online Marketing
There are two channels you should be using to market your HVAC company: Google and Facebook.
Google is where you’re going to get people that need HVAC service repairs now.
Facebook is where you’re going to get your referral business and maybe expand your seasonal maintenance packages.
The key to making all of this work is to have a disciplined marketing plan in place and to stick to it. If you think that you might have trouble staying on course, you should find a reputable marketing agency like us to partner with you and handle all of your online marketing.
That’s when concerns about the costs come up.
This is all I’m going to say about the subject of cost: if you have a good company handling your online marketing, you will see a massive return on investment.
If you don’t see that return, fire your agency and find one that is good.
If you’re not marketing your HVAC company online, you’re missing out on tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.