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:
- phone number clicks?
- search engine rankings?
- website visitors?
- conversion rate?
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!
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:
- “air conditioning repair trenton nj”
- “furnace replacement trenton nj”
- “hvac trenton”
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:
- “air conditioning repair trenton nj”
- “furnace replacement trenton nj”
- “hvac trenton”
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.
- uses a large marketing company.
- is an HVAC company that includes Camden County in its service area.
- competes with other HVAC businesses that also use the large marketing company in the same service area.
- is in our list of top companies in the State of Marketing Report for Camden County (because almost every company on that list has this problem).
Let’s look at some stats for this company:
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.
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 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?
Let’s just quickly define some of the things in that image:
- Volume: Number of searches for that keyword per month
- CPC: Estimated cost per click (in dollars) in a Google PPC Campaign
- Position: The current ranking that this HVAC website has in Google for the keyword
We’ll pull some of those numbers out in the table below:
|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|
|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:
- This data is only a portion of the keywords that this company is ranking for.
- This HVAC website doesn’t rank in the top 10 for any of these keywords.
- There are lots and lots of other keywords out there, these are just the ones that happened to be on this HVAC company’s list.
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="https://example.com">ABC Company</a>
Money keyword anchor text looks like this:
<a href="https://example.com">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.
So out of 50 backlinks, 5 of them use money keyword anchor text. They are:
|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:
- Do you have other HVAC clients from my town or that overlap my service area?
- Would you hire other HVAC clients from my town or that overlap my service area?
- How do you build backlinks?
- 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.