If you’ve engaged the services of a marketing company you absolutely need to know what kind of marketing they’ll do for your HVAC company’s website.
The rep at the company might not even know the difference, and frankly, it can be a little hard to tell.
We’ll take a look at both brand marketing and keyword marketing and which one you should focus on.
Links and Keywords
Fundamentally, the type of marketing your HVAC website gets comes down to links and keywords. If you aren’t familiar with these concepts, links are like votes for your website from other websites. Keywords are essentially search terms that someone uses to find your website.
If you want to control the position of your website in the search results (you always want to be near the top) you need more links to your website. The keywords that you use in your links and on your site influence what keywords you rank for in Google.
If I own a website about apples and I get lot of links to my site that look like this:
my site will tend to rank for the keyword “apple” in the search results.
If I get a lot of links to my site that look like this:
My site will tend to rank for the keyword “banana”.
In the links above, “apple” and “banana” are what is called anchor text.
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Want to rank for apples? Use the “apple” anchor text. Want to rank for bananas? Use the “banana” anchor text.
Anchor text is a little more complicated than this. Anchor text needs to be varied and it should target keywords that you need to rank for.
I use keyword-style marketing to refer to phrases that look like this:
- furnace repair New York
- mini split installation Philadelphia
- boiler replacement Seaside Heights
These are things that customers would search for in a Google search.
So let’s look at the first example, “furnace repair New York”, and see how we’d market it.
Step 1: The Local Landing Page
First, I would build out a local landing page. A local landing page is a webpage on your site that describes the services that you provide in a particular area. It’s structured to have a main title, secondary titles, and several paragraphs of content that support the main and secondary titles.
For a typical HVAC site that serves New York, the page title would likely be “Heating and Air Conditioning Company/Services in New York” or something similar.
Below that would be several secondary titles, one of which would be “Furnace Repair, Service, and Installation in New York”.
Very importantly, you need at least one Call To Action on the page. What’s a Call to Action? It’s a place where you ask the customer to call or email you with your phone number and a contact form.
Ideally, the customer lands on your page and immediately decides to call you - you don’t want them to have to look for your phone number or click to another page to access a contact form.
Step 2: The Backlink
You need to find another website where you can link back to your website to create a backlink. This is a complicated topic in itself, so I’m not going to discuss it.
You should be careful in doing this - buying links or acquiring links through a shady SEO company can cause permanant damage to your website.
I will discuss the link itself though:
You want the link to appear in some kind of text that’s actually relevant to HVAC. For instance, if you link from a site about Barbie dolls, it simply won’t be as effective as linking from a site about home improvement.
The link code will look something like this:
<a href"https://example.com/heating-air-conditioning-services-new-york">furnace repair in New York City</a>
and the result will look something like this:
XYZ has been proudly offering furnace repair in New York City for the last 33 years.
And that is how you do keyword style marketing.
So what’s brand-style marketing?
Brand marketing is just like keyword marketing, except it uses your business name.
Instead of a link that looks like this:
you use a link like this:
Plus, this kind of link generally points to your home page.
Instead of telling Google that your page is about furnace repair in New York City, you’re telling Google it’s about XYZ Company.
Brand marketing is normal
When you first launch an HVAC website, brand marketing is perfectly normal.
In fact, Google will expect you to have a lot of branded links because that’s what people do: They get links from contractor aggregator websites, local newspaper directory pages, HVAC-speicific directories, and so on.
These types of sites frequently use anchor text that looks like:
- “ABC Heating and Cooling”
- “click here”
In fact, this type of anchor text is almost universally more common for HVAC websites than keyword-location because most companies never move beyond branded anchors. They get 30-60 branded links and stop.
Most online industries are completely different. In ecommerce, for instance, sites start building links and writing content that center on keywords immediately. Branded marketing won’t work early on and costs time and money that a bootstrapped entrepreneur doesn’t have.
Lots of people Google for “amazon” (the brand) to go to the Amazon.com website, but you’re just as likely to end up there when you Google “coffee machines” (a keyword).
The problem with brand marketing
So, let’s just think about this.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, brand marketing is a huge problem for many businesses, and an especially enormous problem for new businesses.
Because no one knows who you are.
Let’s pretend you have a brand-marketed website.
One of your business goals is that a customer searches for “furnace repair in New York City” and your site comes up in the search results. With brand marketing, the reality is that they need to put your company name in the search results for your website to come up in the search results at all.
Obviously, if they don’t know that you exist, it’s impossible for a customer to find you.
And some other guy is going to be at the top of the search results for “furnace repair in New York City”.
Continual brand marketing is only useful when customers know your name and are simply Googling for your contact info.
You don’t get leads from new customers that don’t know you with brand marketing, but you can with keyword marketing.
How can you tell if your site is brand-marketed?
The easiest way is to have us do a video evaluation.
It is a little tricky to do by yourself, but you can probably get an idea. Really, professional SEO tools are required to see how bad it is.
Here it goes:
Start by heading to Google and search for your business name. For most businesses with fairly unique names, you should come up in the number 1 or 2 spot in Google. Normally, this is realtively easy to achieve.
If you’re in the #1 spot, congrats! Your brand marketing worked! If a site like Thumbtack or HomeAdvisor outranks your website for your name, you need more branded links.
If you’ve been paying a marketing company for several months (let’s say 5-6) and the above is true, fire them.
Next, come up with a few service+location keywords, like “furnace repair in New York”. For most HVAC businesses, 10-15 keywords will give you a good idea. Pick a few from your home town and some from surrounding areas.
Search for each of these keywords in Google and see what your rank is. If most of your ranks are in position 11 and up, or you don’t rank at all for your keywords, you’re paying for brand marketing.
This is the point where you need to have a conversation with your marketing company.
Let’s slow down here for a minute
If your ranks are 11 and up, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your marketing company is doing a bad job. SEO takes time. It’s highly variable how long it takes because Google changes it’s algorithm frequently, on and offsite inputs need to marinate, and marketing is a process that takes place over a time span, not all at once.
So what you can do is ask to see your keyword positions in an SEO tool, plus a report on your backlink anchor text. If all of your anchor text is your brand, you’ll know you need to focus on getting keyword-style anchor text.
Hopefully you’ve seen the difference between keyword marketing and brand marketing. If you don’t, try reading more about some of the concepts talked about here, especially anchor text in backlinks, and you’ll get it.
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