Social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are major players in the marketing game for any industry. According to Internet Live Stats, the number of daily searches on Google is 3.5 billion, equating to 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.
Just like money, numbers talk. That’s why contractors are taking their social media and SEO tactics to new heights with their digital marketing.
PLATFORMS AND PRIORITIES
The first step to navigating the social media world is to determine where you want to focus your efforts and, more importantly, where your target audience is active.
Ben Landers, president and CEO, Blue Corona Inc., Gaithersburg, Maryland, has analyzed the digital marketing focus for the HVAC industry and recommends a few places to start.
“The social media sites we utilize for our clients are chosen based on the client’s situation, their goals, and their target audience,” he said. “With that being said, just about every HVAC company can benefit and profit from including Facebook, posts via Google My Business, Instagram, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and YouTube in their social media strategy.”
According to a January 2018 survey by Statista, the top five most popular social networks utilized worldwide are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.
“Facebook and YouTube are the most valuable,” said John Boylan, Lakeside Service Co. Inc., Brighton, Michigan. “Facebook is topical and conversational. Facebook is better used to build rapport so that you can become the first consideration when a need arises. It’s also a great referral tool. People love to use Facebook to promote and refer, and that is so valuable.”
Cole Mitchell, director of marketing, Carolina Comfort Inc., Columbia, South Carolina, also utilizes Facebook primarily because it goes hand-in-hand with community. He has found it to be the best fit for his company and the way he likes to interact with the community. Most of all, Mitchell likes that Facebook allows for many useful tools, like reviews and promotions.
But there are other social media outlets to look into, such as the various review sites on the web. According to the 2018 ReviewTrackers’ online reviews survey, 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business.
Jessica Michan, external relations manager, Direct Energy, Houston, said the company has its own extensive online management program, where they monitor what customers are saying on review sites, such as Google, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and CitySearch. The company also uses several tools to bring efficiencies to its social media efforts, such as social listening, publishing tools, and additional analytics platforms. get with the app
According to an article in Forbes, “Here’s Why Your Business Needs Its Own Mobile App,” the benefits to creating an app for your company include being visible to customers at all times, creating a direct marketing channel, providing value to your customers, building brand and recognition, improving customer engagement, standing out from the competition, and cultivating customer loyalty.
Edward McFarlane, vice president of learning and development, Haller Enterprises Inc., Lititz, Pennsylvania, created a company app after he noticed some customers would rather request service online instead of calling in. The app allows customers to schedule appointments and receive text message updates the night before. It also tell customers when the technicians are on their way.
“Soon, we will be able to offer the same thing from our social media campaigns,” McFarlane said. “That’s what we are really excited about.”
HOW TO MANAGE AND OPTIMIZE
For those unfamiliar, SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
SEOBook.com said there are nine main steps to SEO: market research, keyword research, on-page optimization, site structure, link building, brand building, viral marketing, adjusting, and staying up to date. While some contractors may be familiar and comfortable with these steps and verbiage, a majority have turned to outside companies that specialize in SEO.
Chris Hunter, president of Hunter Heat & Air, Ardmore, Oklahoma, recently became a partner in the NDS Project — the company that oversees his social media and SEO.
“I let them do what they do best, and I’ll stick to what I do best — it’s a win-win situation,” said Hunter.
Mitchell has a similar partnership with a company called Ryno Strategic Solutions.
“The reason we do not do it in-house is multifaceted,” he said. “SEO is a moving target. Google changes their algorithms almost daily, forcing many companies to be ever-changing in the digital space. The marketing department at Carolina Comfort is not robust enough to handle this type of beast. So, we have found a great partner in Ryno, and they take care of us.”
Haller Enterprises has also found it helpful to have an outside marketing firm, and the company has utilized an entire outside team to manage its SEO and social media.
“The online world, and the technology that drives it, continues to become more and more esoteric and specific, and we found that rather than us having one person devoted to keeping up with all of the online changes, we could leverage the strengths of a whole team of experts,” said McFarlane. “Regardless of what we run into, we can get an answer and a plan put together and implemented quickly.”
Landers said there are three things required once the marketing team is in place.
First, you must carefully assess the technical aspects of your website — things like your website’s code, load time, mobile-friendliness, canonicalization, content organization, etc.
Second, you need to address your website’s content. Google doesn’t rank the website per se — it ranks website pages.
Third, you need to address your overall footprint on the web.
“Part of your SEO strategy is getting your company to be viewed as a subject matter expert, a thought leader, the authority for what you do in the markets you do it,” Landers said. “Of course, social media can assist with this last part.”
Mitchell said some things he has seen Ryno do to optimize his company’s SEO includes adding blog posts; adding multimedia, including videos; adding or changing verbiage on many of the website pages; and creating content that focuses on different geographical areas. By doing this, Google considers your website more attractive to the average consumer and will put your site higher on search listings.
“If I were an HVAC contractor, one thing I would really emphasize this year, in terms of SEO, is optimizing your site’s mobile usability,” Landers said. “Google now uses a mobile-first ranking system. What this means is that if your website doesn’t load correctly or work well on a mobile device, your site could be outranked by those that do.”
Publication date: 3/5/2018