The Dirty Secret That Big Marketing Companies Don't Want Local HVAC Businesses to Know

Are you paying one of the large marketing agencies a monthly marketing fee? What you’re really getting may not be what you actually think.

Big marketing companies that sell SEO packages don’t do real SEO that brings new customers, because they can’t.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why large marketing companies can’t do real SEO, a thorough example of this happening on a real HVAC company’s website, a look at the potential leads the example HVAC company is losing, and questions to ask your SEO rep to figure out if your SEO will really work.

The Quick Breakdown

Here’s the gist of this article:

There are thousands and thousands of HVAC keywords searched every month. These are keywords like “hvac trenton nj” or “air conditioning repair austin tx”.

If the big marketing company you hired gets you ranked for those keywords that bring new customers, they can’t do the same thing for the HVAC company that also works in your town, in the next town over, or in your service area.

So what do they do instead?

They do marketing and SEO for your company name.

Because big marketing companies want to sell SEO to as many clients as possible.

If you’re well-known, people will search for your company name, go to your website, and call you. You see the traffic on your website and think your marketers are geniuses. But those searchers were going to find you anyway!

Meanwhile, there are tons and tons of people looking for HVAC services that get search results that may as well be nearly random.

Want to know how it’s done? Read on.

How Big Marketing Companies Make Money

It’s all about sales.

Large marketing companies want to sell as many packages as they can to the most customers possible.

They’re so big that they have to do this:

Let’s say they do SEO for one HVAC company in each New Jersey county. They can only generate revenue from 21 different companies. That’s very limiting to their revenue.

But if they want to make sure that the CEO and executives can buy the largest yachts possible, big companies will sell their services to every HVAC business possible. Even if you start out on a lower tier of service, they’ll still want to upsell you a larger SEO package one day.

They don’t care about your end results because, honestly, most HVAC business owners have no idea what’s posssible and what’s measurable in terms of lead generation through their websites.

HVAC business owners say things like, “Oh, yeah, we’re doing okay with them….”

But how do you know you’re doing well?

Are you tracking:

A Conflict of Interest

Let’s say we have two companies, ABC HVAC and XYZ HVAC. They both reside in the same city, Trenton, NJ.

Both of them have engaged the SEO an marketing services of Bigco Marketing.

For some readers, alarm bells may be going off already!

Here’s why:

If you’re ABC HVAC, Bigco Marketing should have created pages on your site that cover each town in your service area with a title like “HVAC Services in Trenton, NJ”.

Then they send links to pages on your website to help them get pushed up in the search results.

Ideally, ABC HVAC will be the #1 result in Google when people search for things like:


XYZ HVAC is also paying Bigco Marketing for SEO!

They have the same service area as ABC HVAC and they ALSO want to rank for terms like:

If ABC HVAC and XYZ HVAC are both trying to take the #1 positions in Google, how can Bigco Marketing ethically take the money of these two competing companies?

Remember, there’s only one top spot in Google.

For ABC HVAC to take the top spot, it needs to do better SEO than XYZ HVAC. Then, XYZ HVAC needs to do better SEO than ABC HVAC.

Since both of them use Bigco Marketing, Bigco Marketing is competing against itself.

Case Study: HVAC Website in Camden County, NJ

We’re going to take a look at how this is happening on a real HVAC website in Camden County, New Jersey.

This is going to be a deep dive into the data, but you’ll be able to see the massive opportunities that this company is losing. Identifying information is blanked out.

If you’re thinking this would never happen to you, well…this type of marketing tends to be the rule, not the exception.

The Stats

This company:

Let’s look at some stats for this company:

 - Lots of backlinks from lots of websites
Lots of backlinks from lots of websites
This website has many backlinks from many websites. Plus, they have a ton of content which means that they show up in Google for about 1600 keywords.

With 2,650 backlinks coming from 112 websites, plus a large amount of relevant content, we’d expect this website to do very well in search.

Performance in the Google Top 10

In fact, this company does do well in search, but it isn’t for “money” keywords.

(A money keyword is “air conditioning repair trenton nj”. The searcher’s intent is to find an HVAC company, call them, and get their AC fixed.)

So let’s take a look at their top 10 organic keywords and see what they rank for. Brand keywords (the company name) are in purple, and money keywords are in circled in red.

These are all the organic keywords this company has in the top 10 of Google. Click the images to see a bigger version.


Purple are branded searches.

Red circles are money keywords.

Notice anything funny? This HVAC company only has 1 money keyword in the top 10 search results in Google. There are 4 circled, but 3 of them have a rank of 11 and will appear on the second page of Google.

These are the four circled money keywords:

Organic Keywords in Top Positions
Organic keyword Position in Google
plumbers in sicklerville nj 6
heating and air conditioning south jersey 11
south jersey hvac contractors 11
hvac companies in south jersey 13

That means that they aren’t on the front page of Google for the vast, vast majority of keywords that would bring them new customers.

Remember, keywords are basically what someone searches for in Google, but this company is on page two of Google for “hvac companies in south jersey”, a keyword that’s searched 60 times per month.

Those new potential customers are clicking on other HVAC websites.


This company brings in plenty of business through branded search (everything purple), but very little “new customer” search (the four red circles).

The Leads They’re Losing

Next let’s take a look at what this company could be ranking for with real, competitive SEO. We’ll take a look at some of their keywords that are on page 2 and beyond of Google.

First, here’s a screenshot of one page of the organic keywords they rank for. These keywords are in positions 11 and up on Google. They contain the phrases “nj” or “new jersey” because money keywords for local HVAC businesses always contain a location.

Which of these keywords would you want to rank for?

 - HVAC Organic Keywords on Page Two and Up in Google Search Results
HVAC Organic Keywords on Page Two and Up in Google Search Results
Click this image to see a larger view.

Let’s just quickly define some of the things in that image:

We’ll pull some of those numbers out in the table below:

2nd Page and Up of Google: Lost HVAC Leads
Organic keyword Monthly volume Cost per Click (dollars) Position
heating repair new jersey 250 4.5 11
hvac south jersey 90 25 13
south jersey hvac contractors 50 11
ac repair nj 200 40 18
hvac companies in south jersey 60 45 13
nj heating repair 30 11
furnace repair cherry hill nj 30 13
heating and air conditioning south jersey 10 9 11
furnace repair new jersey 250 26
heating repair nj 60 22
air conditioning repair cherry hill nj 150 35 26
hvac companies in nj 150 35 27
hvac repair nj 70 4.5 24
nj hvac contractors 50 24
free home energy audit nj 10 6 19
plumbing in south jersey 90 14 28
plumbers in gloucester county nj 20 15 23
hvac cherry hill nj 100 14 30
plumber moorestown nj 20 23
nj hvac 30 11 25
plumbers in south jersey 200 14 34
south jersey plumbing 20 25 25
plumber hammonton nj 10 10 23
plumbers voorhees nj 50 4 29
plumbing voorhees nj 50 4 29
plumber voorhees nj 30 65 27

Are you stunned?

The non-money keywords are stripped out, mostly for NJ energy rebates. The keywords that are left over are the money keywords.

In total, there are 2080 searches for these keywords every month. Any sane HVAC company would be doing everything they could to land on the first page of Google for these keywords.

So, just imagine for a minute:

What if you were #1 in the search results for just a few of these keywords?

Let’s do some math:

Pretend you’re first in the search results for keywords that add up to 500 in volume. With a typical 30% click through rate to your webpage, and a mediocre conversion rate on your website of 15%, you can expect 20-25 leads from new customers every month!

Would that transform your business?

To make the point even further:

In other words, this is the tip of the iceberg.

Want more HVAC leads from your website? No problem.

Get more leads!

Why this happens: Technical SEO

The reason that this company ranks for their brand instead of their services is that most of the anchor text in their backlinks is branded anchor text.

Anchor text is the visible portion of a link in HTML code.

Branded anchor text looks like this:

<a href="">ABC Company</a>

Money keyword anchor text looks like this:

<a href="">best HVAC company in South Jersey</a>

They both link to the same place, but the text describing that place is quite different.

Let’s take a look at a random sampling of the example company’s anchor text. Here are 50 of their backlinks. Pay attention to the “Anchor and backlink” column.

We only show one backlink per domain, so you won’t see evidence of link spam in this image.

Similar to before, brand anchors are in purple and money anchors are circled in red.

 - HVAC Brand Anchor Text vs HVAC Money Anchor Text
HVAC Brand Anchor Text vs HVAC Money Anchor Text
Click this image to see a larger view.

So out of 50 backlinks, 5 of them use money keyword anchor text. They are:

HVAC Anchor Text, Branded vs. Money
Anchor Text Followed/No-Followed
Air Conditioning Company Sewell Followed
air conditioning company sewell No-Followed
Spray Foam Contractors Camden County Followed
HVAC Contractors in NJ No-Followed
Air Conditioner Company South Jersey Followed

It’s good to have a blend of Followed and No-Followed links, but Followed are still more powerful than No-Followed.

Essentially, out of these 50 backlinks, they have 3 Followed links with anchor text targeting a money keyword. 45 of these backlinks are for their brand.

This is a terrible ratio.

Just as one extra note, this company is not located in Sewell, NJ, which is part of Gloucester County, NJ. They are in Camden County, NJ.

How To Fix This and Get More Leads

First, you need to ascertain whether you have a problem.

We’ll do it for you if you contact us with your website.

Otherwise, you’ll have to get your backlink and keyword data and go through the process above.

There are several questions that you should be asking your marketing company before hiring them:

  1. Do you have other HVAC clients from my town or that overlap my service area?
  2. Would you hire other HVAC clients from my town or that overlap my service area?
  3. How do you build backlinks?
  4. What kind of anchor text will you use for my backlinks?

Questions one and two are probably the most important and will let you know whether you’ll have exclusivity for an area and therefore receive the real, competitive SEO that you’re supposed to get.

At HVAC Optimize, we do real SEO for money keywords and create geographical zones of exclusivity so that we aren’t competing with our own SEO.

If that sounds interesting to you, get in touch.