Homeowners and landlords are moving their contractor searches online. In fact, almost half the people in the United States use online directories to find businesses before purchasing local goods or services, according to research by BIA/Kelsey. Therefore, the importance of local search engine optimization (SEO) is growing for HVAC contractors looking to gain a competitive advantage.
HVAC contractors should focus their digital efforts on making sure that they are visible to these local searchers needing a tune-up, replacement, repair, or overhaul. The goal of local SEO is to create a moment-of-interest connection between consumers and businesses. When consumers are searching for specific products or services on a search engine, local SEO helps put businesses front and center.
Marketers that want to increase their mobile visibility using local SEO should know that there are multiple factors that go into local search engine rankings including directory citations, on-page signals, and local reviews. The strategy businesses should begin their efforts with is with directory syndication and search engine listing management.
Get Started with Directory Syndication
Local consumers use online directories to find businesses today similarly to how phone book Yellow Pages were used in the past. One big difference between the old and new methods is that there are dozens of digital directories where businesses should be listed. Search engines consider each directory listing to be an indicator to determine how businesses are represented in local search results.
The local search ecosystem is very interconnected, with many smaller directories pulling information directly from larger ones. For HVAC contractors, that means directories like Yellow Pages, Superpages, and Yelp pull data from aggregators such as Acxion and Localeze. When focusing on directory syndication, it’s important to keep three best practices in mind to create the best local SEO result.
Best Practice #1: Keep It Consistent
Small differences in directory information can cause big concerns for search engines looking for accurate data to index. Marketers must make sure that each listing is consistent from directory to directory, otherwise search engines may consider the information to be unreliable, and therefore not list it in local results. One common mistake made by marketers is the use of address abbreviations. For example, to search engines road and rd. are not the same and should not be used interchangeably.
Best Practice #2: Call Tracking Numbers Don’t Mix
Many HVAC contractors use several different phone numbers to help track of the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns. This practice, commonly known as call tracking, allows companies to know how they’re being found without having to ask the customer to determine the source. For local SEO purposes, this practice can cause more harm than good because it creates discrepancies between different search engine listings and directories. Marketers can use call tracking numbers for numerous campaigns, such as print advertisements, pay per click (PPC), etc., but for local SEO and directories, the primary number of the business should be used.
Best Practice #3: Stay Ahead of the Game
Digital directories do not update and syndicate information instantaneously; instead they pull and update information on semi-regular intervals. Marketers and business owners should keep that in mind when deciding to update, remove, or add directory information. We advise updating all information including phone numbers, hours of operation, and location openings and closings at the earliest possible moment to ensure the directories have time to update their listings.
Best Practice #4: Check for Accuracy Regularly
Directory syndication, while advanced, is not a perfect science. Contractors should watch directories carefully to make sure data is uploaded as intended. If it is not, businesses have the ability to resubmit information to correct any errors.
Updating Your Search Engine Listings
Google, Bing, and Yahoo! all have unique and exclusive business listings. Because Google dominates the search industry, HVAC businesses should start by claiming listings there before moving to Yahoo! and Bing, which also have the power to drive engagement and business.
When businesses leave part of a search engine listing blank, the listing as a whole is not given the same amount of credibility and weight as a completed profile. This means businesses should not just add addresses and phone numbers to listings, but also images, category information, links to social channels, and hours of operation. Contractors that complete the profile do have an advantage in local search over those that don’t fill out all of the fields.
Two million local searches are done every month in the United States alone. HVAC contractors have a tremendous opportunity to leverage local SEO to increase digital visibility, put themselves in front of qualified consumers, and increase sales. Without proper placement inside search engine listings and on online directories, prospective customers won’t be able to find the local businesses they’re looking for.