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One of our HVAC clients recently attended a meeting hosted by a reputable, nationwide HVAC manufacturer. The purpose of the event was to promote this manufacturer’s “preferred vendors” for HVAC marketing and SEO.
Nothing wrong with that, right?
The issue isn’t with the concept. The issue is with the questionable information being distributed at meetings like this where the standard for accuracy should be pretty high (presumably).
It’s troubling enough to hear the countless nightmare stories from business owners who approach Blue Corona to help revive lagging or non-existent online marketing results. Some of them have been through three or four different HVAC SEO “vendors”—with each one peddling more bull than the one before. On the front end, everyone claims to have the smartest team of analysts on the planet, the only treasure map leading directly to Google’s pot of gold, or the secret ingredients for a guaranteed 3,000,000,000% return on investment.
The Tendency to Overpromise and Under Deliver
It’s fairly easy for me to empathize with hard-working guys who got bamboozled or simply let down by a vendor who promised too much, delivered too little, disappeared when quick responses were needed, or committed any number of unacceptable transgressions.
I’ve been there.
My family has owned a small remodeling company since I was born, so I know first-hand how precious budget dollars can be and how deep it cuts when a “partner” who schmoozed on the front end begins jerking you around or just can’t deliver.
Service or Spam?
Unfortunately, there’s no regulating body in the SEO industry and very little barrier to entry. Almost anyone can slap up a website, claim to be an SEO expert, SPAM a bunch of people, make a lot of promises, and take hard-earned money without providing any value in return.
That’s an overview of the broader issue, but let’s get back to this “preferred vendor” problem.
To be fair, some of the problems I’ve heard about from willingly deceitful and criminally inadequate SEO companies are far worse than the situation with this preferred vendor of a nationwide manufacturer. But the number and nature of the misguided messages were still surprising to hear, even if they don’t qualify as potent snake oil. Since I have no idea about this manufacturer’s criteria for choosing who to promote, the only thing I can do is try to clear about some of the misguided information their preferred vendor provided.
Myth 1: Pay-Per-Click Not Worth It for HVAC Companies
The founder of the HVAC marketing company mentioned pay-per-click campaigns usually having a cost-per-lead (CPL) over $400. He made it sound like PPC campaigns aren’t even worth running in most cases.
Really? What types of pay-per-click campaigns have you been managing? While PPC doesn’t make sense for everyone and our clients do typically see the best returns and long term equity from turning the websites they own into authoritative properties through SEO/content marketing, PPC can play an effective supplementary role depending on a client’s marketplace, seasonality, margins, and goals for growth. It can be an immediate way to drive traffic and demand to your website in a highly controllable way—when managed properly.
And our PPC case studies for contractors clearly show that average CPL can be a fraction of what this gentleman was implying, or I suppose, capable of delivering.
Myth 2: Guaranteed SEO Rankings within 60 Days
In addition to claiming PPC wasn’t worth it for HVAC companies, the founder also mentioned something about a guarantee of first page rankings within 60 days.
And…? There are multiple reasons this type of statement isn’t what it seems. Rankings for what? One phrase? Two phrases? Ten phrases? 100 phrases? Certainly not the thousands of combinations of phrases being searched that could drive meaningful traffic and leads to your website. How much search volume is there for the small handful that might be guaranteed, and how much traffic is expected to be generated?
Gaining a first page organic ranking for a limited set of keyword phrases isn’t necessarily difficult when you know what you’re doing and can execute rigorously according to a tailored plan. But, rankings should not be the primary measure of SEO success.
Sure, it’s essential to earn prime real estate on Google considering its main-highway status. But rankings should always be viewed from the right perspective: as a means to an end. There are plenty of scenarios in which your rankings for a small set of phrases might look good, but you’re not getting meaningful traffic to your site that converts. Rankings without traffic sucks, just like traffic without leads sucks.
Rankings should be monitored of course, particularly in comparison to top competitors, but you should make sure your online marketing company is helping you track and measure the way those rankings are increasing bottom-funnel metrics like leads and sales. This is why phone call tracking, customized Google Analytics filters, and detailed reporting frameworks are so important.
Myth 3: HVAC Content Marketing Not Important
Beyond the lack of focus on tracking the metrics that matter most, there was also no mention of the significant role that content marketing plays in successful SEO for the HVAC industry.
On second thought, this actually isn’t all that surprising considering an interaction I’ve had with one of this vendor’s clients.
Back in December, the sales manager of a fairly sizable HVAC company reached out to Blue Corona after finding us through a Google organic search. They had just started up with their HVAC manufacturer’s preferred online marketing company and already, there was a lot of turmoil and unhappiness with how things were going (or not going).
It wasn’t the sales manager’s decision, but if it was, he would have jumped ship right then, about a month or two into the engagement because of how much trust had already been lost. But upper management had already committed to letting things develop for a longer period of time.
So, the sales manager was reaching out for advice to help guide their vendor’s efforts and try to get things on track. I was happy to provide an analysis and consultation, which he appreciated.
Now, looking at this HVAC contractor’s website again, there are only three additional pages on their website from when we first analyzed it with our software on December 11th, 2014. Only three additional pages in the last four months!
Based on an analysis of over 20,000 HVAC websites (the largest study of its kind), we know the highest ranking HVAC websites have at least 200 pages or more. In addition, there’s also still no XML sitemap on this under-performing website, which I pointed out to the sales manager in December as being a “no-brainer” easy addition for helping Google index the site. What have these guys been doing?!
Stay Tuned for Part 2
What other miscommunications are out there about HVAC marketing and SEO? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series. In the meantime, we’d love to give you a free website analysis. Fill out a form below.
About The Author: Sean is a marketing consultant with Blue Corona. Outside the office, he enjoys winning important games like corn hole, ping pong, and rock-paper-scissors.
View more blogs by Sean Coleman