On Site Website Optimization for HVAC

Since your HVAC website will be read by the search engines, there are important elements to keep in mind to help the algorithm understand and categorize your pages for the best results.

The Meta Title which is very often referred to as the Title Tag is arguably the most important element on your web page. I say your page, not your home page, because in SEO all of your pages are important. It would be very difficult to try and get just your home page to rank for all the keyword terms that you are shooting for. Each page will have it’s own set of keywords you are trying to rank for.

The title tag is used for multiple purposes. It is a clear declaration to the search engines of what this page is about and all of the other information on the page should support this title. Nothing complicated there. You don’t usually see this tag showing up on the page itself, instead if you hover over the tab in your browser, you’ll see this text and even a quick hover feature that will appear.

Title Tag Optimization

This text is so important it is generally used as the title of the search engine result.

Title Tag SERP

What is interesting to note is that Google chooses whether to use that text in part or even adds to it based upon the intent of the search. It may even keep the title you have written in full. You’ll often times see them add your company name to the title. Since it is their search engine, they can do what they want.

When you write a title tag, you want to be specific about what this page is about. If you write all pages with the same title tag, such as Air Conditioning Repair and Service, then all of the pages have the same focus, and quite literally are trying to compete with each other. You already have enough on your plate trying to compete with the other Heating and Cooling companies out there.

If you are writing a page on Heat Pump Repair, then that is a great keyword phrase and should have it’s own page with written content and photos supporting this phrase. Now we want to focus on one other tactic and that is the localization. Most people have been doing searches long enough that they know to get a local search result, they usually add in the city as a modifier.

Your title tag just got a little longer and a little more specific. Heat Pump Repair in Worcester, now that is a Title Tag. A hotly debated topic in our industry is how long a title tag should be. Google allows for about 50 to 60 characters and some say you should fill the entire line. I recommend learning to walk before you run. Focus your page on a few keywords and add to it as your rankings improve.

Google will probably add the company name to the end of your short title. The nice part is since the search engines will crawl your site from time to time, they will pick up on the changes and improvements you keep making. It is actually encouraged and is considered a strong ranking factor. If a page is constantly being refreshed then that might mean more relevance and updated information. These are metrics that Google places high value on and updating your site is a great signal.

Do’s and Dont’s for Title Tags

Many websites I run into have not had the attention they deserve. Someone probably created the original pages years ago and left title tags with terms such as; Home, Services, Air Conditioning, or even worse …Page 3.

hvac serp result

This is an example of a missed opportunity. Many of your larger HVAC companies have experienced marketing people that spend time crafting these details. To make a search engine struggle in understanding the intent of the content, it is no wonder that a result like the one above is on page six. The only reason it is that high, is because there is content elsewhere on the site that mentions the service and the city.

Don’t accidentally be found, be intentional. And whatever you do, stay away from outdated tactics. Keyword stuffing is rampant in the HVAC industry. This is seen as intentionally trying to manipulate the search engine algorithm.

Heating System Installation | Heating Repair | Heating Services

This is a title tag just waiting to be penalized. You will from time to time see a page like this show in a SERP, but that is probably because the competitors are not trying hard enough. This discussion is about best practices and believe it or not, playing by the rules will get you further and keep you out of trouble when your competitors panic about losing rankings due to an algorithm update.

Should You Put Your Phone Number in the Title Tag?

Adding the phone number to your title will not add SEO value. It may even diminish the keyword strength of the Title Tag as well. What it will do is give someone an opportunity to see and possibly take action before even visiting your site for Air Conditioning services. This is not a bad thing. SEO professionals will avoid doing this because it is difficult to track whether the lead was generated from internet marketing efforts. Since this is your website, you can do what you want. In this article, we will focus on SEO techniques.

Get the Name of Your Business on Your Website

Let’s talk about the logo of your business again. Images can be optimized since there are places to add text. The two most important details are the name of the file and the “Alt Text”. Before uploading an image to your website, it should be named properly and in the case of your logo, name the image after your business. Business-Name.jpg

Once your image is uploaded to your website, there should be a place to update the Alt Text. This alternative text is actually a tool to assist the visually impaired so that the image can be read aloud by a computer or if someone is viewing the page but not loading images, it becomes a text placeholder for the picture. Search Engine programmers thought it was a good ranking factor so they adopted it into the algorithm. Because of this, SEO practitioners have been keen on optimizing images. Add your business name to the Alt Text of your logo image.

Since it is just good practice to add your business name to your website, we try and get your name into the title text (or H1) which often resides in the header of your website, depending upon the web design. At the very least, you should add it somewhere in the footer. Ranking for your business name is no small achievement and lots of sales opportunities can be missed because someone remembers the name of your plumbing or furnace repair company but can’t seem to find you when they search.

The SEO Value of Meta Descriptions

Since we are discussing title tags, these go hand in hand with meta descriptions. These are in the html code of your page also and appear below the title in a search engine result. Think of it as your sales pitch to convince someone that this is the right result to click through.

Title Tag SERP

Meta descriptions actually provide very little SEO value, but should still not be ignored. For the time that it takes to write two sentences, they are well worth it. Besides, if you don’t create one, Google will most likely pull the first two sentences of the content on that page and insert that as the description. But sometimes it may just grab the menu items and this often looks awful and is definitely not convincing anyone to click through.

You’re Headline Tag is Also Known as an H1

An H1 is a technical tag used to identify a segment of text in the HTML code to render on a web page usually as large, bold text. For SEO purposes there should only be one H1 per page on your website and if possible, it should be very high on the page, preferably in the space that loads into your browser and seen before you start scrolling.

Think of your Page as an article from a newspaper that you cut out and you are going to file it away. If the Title tag is the label on the tab of the file folder, then the H1 is the headline on the news article. Without reading the article, you should be able to tell what the article is about. All summed up in about seven to ten words. You have a little more flexibility with this tag but it should still be keyword rich.

Heat Pump Repair Certified Technicians in Boston, MA

Keep in mind that we want these tags to be search engine friendly and at the same time written for people who will actually read them. A title tag is meant to get someone to click on your link in Google while the H1 is to confirm to the person that they have reached a page they were intending on finding and want to continue reading. These tags should be similar but not necessarily the same. Otherwise people are going to land on your page and in some cases leave as soon as they arrive.

If you have the title tag referring to Lennox Air Conditioners and they find out that you are only a supplier for new installations when they arrive on your page and read the H1, then they will hit that back button right there in the upper left hand corner. Search engines prefer specific pages, so be sure the Headline tag is specific to the content.

Since H1 tags exist, you will also deduce that there are also H2, H3 all the way to H6. As you move down through content you should segment the article paragraphs in succession. But in reality, you can make the others all H2’s. Yes, a single H1 and multiple H2’s are OK. In doing it this way, it will help to keep the styling of the page consistent as these tags continue to reduce the size of the headline font on most websites.

h1 headings

The Content on a Web Page for HVAC

You will hear about content marketing, copy writing, SEO content writing and so many other terms in our industry. HVAC content is very straightforward. You are not telling a story about a happy home maker who suddenly hears the AC unit stop and feels the house warming by every passing minute. Writing for an air conditioning business is far more simple. You just need to answer the questions that are in people’s minds.

  • Are the technicians experienced?
  • Are they certified to work on my brand?
  • Will they come to my home at 11:00 at night?
  • Do they look like a professional company?

Content for the most part is written words and images. It can also often times be video and other media, but let’s start with the first two. The copy on your website needs to be unique. This means you cannot find the copy on a website in a city 500 miles from you and copy it to your pages. I have seen many HVAC companies utilize this tactic and simply change the location along with the business name and publish.

The first thing that is wrong with this is that it is covered by copyright, which should be the first red flag of why it shouldn’t be done. But even in the case where a manufacturer allows you to copy the description for a specific model AC unit, the search engines will pick up on this duplicate content. It is not that you will get a penalty from Google for this, it is just that the algorithm will pick up on the similarity in the words and favor the original, more authoritative website for this content.

Why would Google use your page as the search result when it already has a page with almost identical text that it indexed a while back? It is just a better approach to write your own text. There are too many options nowadays not to either write it yourself or hire a professional. It doesn’t have to be written by Shakespeare, it just has to be concise. However, if you do want to spend the money to hire a professional copywriter or ask someone you know who is better with the written word, this is always a plus.

There are plenty of places on the web to find affordable copy writers. If you don’t like to write yourself but can talk about these topics in your sleep, find an app for your phone that will transcribe as you talk. Use that twenty minute drive in the morning as an opportunity to get thoughts down in text. Start with something easy like rewriting or adding to your about page.

How long have you been in business? How many technicians do you have? What makes you different than your competition? Do you do Installation, service/repair or all of the above? Do you specialize in commercial, residential or industrial?

You’ll be amazed how much starts rolling out when you stop thinking about what to write. Remember, you can edit it all later.

The SEO Value of Your Domain Name

Let’s make a slight detour from content and discuss the search engine optimization value of the URL’s and specifically the domain of your website. Just to clarify, the domain is the primary section of the URL that your website is known for on the web, comanyname.com

This and others are known as the URL’s of the pages. So your home page can be www.yourbusines.com, http://yourbusiness.com.index.html or any number of ways your web developer set it up. The other URL’s for other pages can be https://yourbusiness.com/services or even  https://www.yourbusiness.com/ac/boston

This is a clarification because terminology is helpful for this topic. Many companies consider it to be important to have their most important keyword in the domain of their site. This can sometimes be useful but Google is not so simple as to rely so heavily upon this one signal. It is not to say it isn’t helpful, but our focus is to get the keyword into the URL itself. If it is in the Domain, even better but not necessary.

There is not a lot of difference for search engines to read:

http://xyzheating. com

or

http://xyz123. com/heating

The difference in the SEO value for these two URL’s is minuscule. If you have a domain that does not contain your industry keyword, you can still rank for that keyword term. It really comes down to naming your permalinks properly and organizing the site architecture well. A topic to be discussed a little later on.

Content and Keywords

Your home page is the most important page on your website. It sets the all encompassing focus category and company name for the entire site. All other pages are subcategories of this page. Because it is still a page it should have content to give the search engines something to read. This is one of the biggest missed opportunities in the HVAC industry.

This is especially true with websites that like to use a big hero design. You see them all over the internet.

big hero image

The intention is that the picture would tell the story, but the website is not telling the story to Google. I think this is great design and could be used in many instances, but SEO is focused on showing up in SERPs and getting people to your website. I would have to question if that big text in the middle is an H1. There is hardly any content above the fold.

Above the Fold is a left over term from the newspaper industry. It correlates to a a web page because like a folded newspaper, there is more to the page as you scroll down just as if you pick up a newspaper you see the rest of the articles on the front page.

Websites should look nice but User Experience is not exactly a ranking factor for search engines. As such, we need to focus on what is important to them. If you are unable to get more text above the fold on a website, then you should at least get more content on the home page somewhere. Even if it is two short paragraphs.

As for the interior pages, they should be chock full of content. Never ask how many words. This is too vague a question and will ultimately be determined by your competition. If your competitors are outranking you, then it is back to writing more content, getting more optimized images on the pages, improving your title tags, rewriting H1’s, evaluating pages to see if they need to be split into two, and the list goes on.

Lots of plumbing companies will try to have one page for service and installation. If you are ranking well, then great. If not, you might want to consider one page for each. The same goes for towns. Again, many businesses will try to have it all with the least amount of work.

AC Repair in Quincy, Hingham and Weymouth

If this gets the job done, fantastic. If not, then we know what we need to do. Break out a page for each city.

Hierarchy and Permalinks for On Page Optimization

Let’s go back to discussing the architecture of your website. As you start creating these pages, you want to think of the hierarchy since it is a helpful way to show Google how to categorize the pages on your site.

www.company.com/heating

www.company.com/service

www.company.com/repair

There isn’t a wrong way to do this, just better ways. You want your sub-pages to strengthen your main categories and vice versa. So it would make sense to have a service page have a sub category and possibly solid keywords included.

www.hvaccompany.com/repair/heating-brockton

www.hvaccompany.com/repair/heating-plymouth

www.hvaccompany.com/repair/ac-hanover

www.hvaccompany.com/trane/heat-pumps

Sine you are probably going to be making a bunch of changes moving forward, you need to be knowledgeable of a tool that is available called redirects.

If you are changing your website URL’s, you should do 301 Redirects

Whenever an HVAC company talks to me about a website redesign or even making changes just for SEO, inevitably they ask if they will be able to retain the rankings that they currently have. The answer to this question should always be a resounding, Yes.

Your HVAC website has a history with Google. The search engines have gotten to know your pages and any backlinks that have been built to them. All of this previous history can and should be retained in any change to your website.

Backlinks are when another website links to your website for whatever reason. It is a ranking factor in Google and is a very important part in search engine rankings.

If website or content improvements have been made and done well, most websites should see an increase in their ranking and probably rank for more terms. But the first thing that should be done after the change is a single or even multiple 301 permanent redirects should be created. Here is an examples of the process.

Let’s say you are going through a website redesign or improving your SEO. One of your most important pages may be:

hvacbusiness.com/springfield-hvac.shtml

Through the process of development, it is determined the new URL for this page should be:

hvacbusiness.com/hvac/springfield-ma

When the old page is no longer there and the new page is indexed by Google, many issues can occur.

Google knew the old page and could take time in developing trust in the new one, not even realizing that the new one may have even retained all of the same content (It is just an algorithm after all).

Any backlinks that were built to the old page are no longer passing value to the site because Google no longer sees the page anymore. Instead, the visitor to the site and Google receive what is called a 404 error page. This tells everyone that the page no longer exists.

Redirects are performed on the server level to tell google that the old URL is now the new URL. If you type in the old URL it should automatically redirect you in the browser to the new page. This is also what happens when Google crawls the old page, it gets redirected to the new page. Over time, Google will even remove the old URL from it’s index and simply see the new URL only.

This task is probably the number one reason websites drop in rankings after a website launch. Do not confuse Google, it never turns out well.

HVAC Should Have a Focus on Mobile

If your HVAC website does not work well on cell phones, then this is one major issue that needs to be addressed. Back in 2015 a milestone was reached where more searches were performed on mobile devices than desktop. The trend continues as more consumers turn to their cell phones and many households are abandoning laptops altogether. Because of this, mobile friendly websites are a must have for the HVAC service industry.

Recently, Google introduced a mobile first index update. Previously, the desktop version of your site is what the algorithm based its’ results on. Now it will be the mobile version of your site. That means the results of your desktop searches are based upon how the mobile version of your website renders.

Site Speed: The faster your website loads in a search, the more likely you will get a boost in your rankings. Large file sizes for images, bloated coding, slow server speed. These can all attribute to Google preferring a faster website over yours. If your home page has a 12 megabyte image, this could take a long time for a cell phone to download and because of this, it is a ranking factor.

Mobile Friendly: Over the years, web developers have come up with solutions for a better experience of websites on mobile devices and tablets. Years ago, you would have a mobile version of your website which could even be a separate website. Google in recent years has stated they prefer responsive web design. That is the exact same page that renders differently on multiple types of devices. If you have to pinch and stretch a web page on your phone, then google will deem this not mobile friendly you may not show up as strong in the rankings because of this.

They even provide a quick tool to test your site to see if it passes their mobile friendly test.

Mobile Friendly Test

This will check your page, not the entire site. So test the home page but also test a couple of your more important interior web pages as well.

Interlinking Pages on Your Heating and Air Website

Since search engines are constantly trying to pick up on signals to better understand the content on each page, they look strongly at how you link to other pages on your site. Google puts value on how many pages link to a single page. It reads the actual text within the link to determine the meaning of that page. It even takes into account the content that surrounds the link text itself.

If you have an HVAC Repair page for Waltham, then you want to link to it from other pages, look for variations of the keyword phrase.

air conditioning repair

heat pump service

fix your ac

By doing this, you help the search engines to better understand how that page is important to specific keywords. This is an easy win without too much effort.

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