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If you’re looking to grow your HVAC business, you’ve probably at least looked into search engine optimization (SEO) for your company’s website. You’ve probably also heard a lot of SEO nightmares from your buddies, from reading Yelp review for SEO companies, or from others in your industry.
Getting associated with fly-by-night and ineffective SEO companies is part of our gig. We’re fine with that. I know we operate differently, and our clients know it too, so I don’t get offended when a business owner wants to vent his or her frustrations over past experiences as we’re considering a new partnership.
Sometimes, when it’s a particularly intense tirade of complaints about a previous vendor, I’m half-tempted to quote a line from Mad Men. There’s a scene (Season 6, Episode 10) when a potential new client is going off on Roger Sterling and Don Draper about the flaws of the former agency that had disappointed them. Roger listens and then says, “Look, we’re sorry your last girlfriend hurt you. We’re in your office right now.”
For him, that works, and they agree to begin a partnership. However, I don’t say that because it probably wouldn’t go over quite the same way for me as it does for a character in a TV show set in the 60s. Plus, I’m not a fan of being a smart-ass when someone is talking about a serious issue that has negatively affected his or her livelihood (even if unrealistic expectations seem to have been at least slightly involved in the misalignment).
In Part 1 of this blog series, I introduced you to three of the biggest HVAC marketing miscommunications being relayed by one of the top HVAC manufacturer’s “preferred vendors.” I’ll pick up where I left off in hopes that you too won’t be misguided by some of these myths that could hinder your HVAC company’s business growth.
Myth #4: Online Marketing Companies Can Hold Your Website Hostage Should You Try to Cancel
During this particular preferred vendor’s event, there was strong caution given about other online marketing companies holding your website hostage when you try to cancel by disabling proprietary plug-ins.
This is a good point, but it’s not as rampant as it was made out to be.
We’ve dealt with this recently when onboarding a new Blue Corona client who cancelled with the vendor operating this way (the old preferred partner of the manufacturer). It did cause issues, but we began with this client by building a new website. The problems weren’t insurmountable in this case, and I haven’t seen this type of thing very often.
What’s more common is for an HVAC business owner to find out that he doesn’t actually own his website at all; it’s actually only being rented or “leased” to him by the company who built it. This means it will disappear if he ever cancels, and he won’t be allowed to give any outside third-party full access to the website.
This is most often seen with large media organizations – yellow pages companies, print advertising conglomerates dabbling in online marketing, etc. The point here is to make sure, no matter what, you always have full ownership of your website, files, content, etc. Otherwise, you’re not building equity and ascending momentum like you should be. And, you could end up getting caught in a tight spot when you decide that change is needed.
Myth #5: Exclusive Partnerships with Software Companies Matter
Strong emphasis was placed on a partnership this online marketing company has with a large tax and marketing automation software company.
So what? How does that make the SEO results this company will provide any more viable? There are plenty of tax software and marketing automation services out there. Ask us, and we can give you the lay of the land if you like. There’s no reason to think these particular services are definitely the best fit for you. And if they are, why not just contact these services directly? Whatever type of discount or benefit this online marketing company is positioning as adding value to the situation can’t be that significant.
My guess is that their partnership mostly just means they’ve agreed to work together to help each other acquire new clients. (Nothing wrong with that, just pointing out that it doesn’t necessarily mean much for your evaluation of the right solutions for you.)
What I Hope HVAC Companies Take Away from This Article
I confess I have limited knowledge of the situation and have made a pointed assessment without the full context. I don’t like talking badly about other companies, competitors or otherwise, which is why I won’t name any of the subjects of this article. And to be clear, neither I nor Blue Corona has anything personal against either one. I’m sure they’re all nice people with good intentions. Mostly, it just instigated commentary on the larger issue with hordes of “SEO companies” and “marketing partners” spreading tangled webs of conflicting misinformation.
It’s painful to observe, knowing how important SEO, content marketing, and building an authoritative digital brand is for small businesses. It’s only going to get more important as time goes on, and when it’s done properly, the returns can be amazing – the best long term ROMI available to a local home service company. When it’s not done properly, the risks don’t just involve wasted time and money. There are many misguided efforts that can do more harm than good and have a negative net-result.
And I’m not saying Blue Corona is perfect. We make mistakes, just like every company in the world does, no matter the level of excellence. In addition, no single tactic is a golden ticket, silver bullet, or any other cliché involving precious metal. Fluctuations are part of the game, and you can’t always hit a home run on your first swing, which is why constant tracking, testing, and tweaking are so vital.
We’re also not always the first to run out and embrace every shiny new trend appearing on the horizon—the majority of them don’t turn out to be a worthy leverage point for measurable growth, but it has left us playing catch-up in a couple minor cases. All that being said, when there are red flags that indicate the basics are being missed, there shouldn’t be any acceptable excuses.
Hopefully you’ll now be at least a little more informed next time an SEO peddler comes knocking, no matter who’s endorsing them and how credible they may sound on the surface.
Screening Your SEO/Online Marketing Company
On that note, I’ll leave you with some example questions you can ask your HVAC SEO/online marketing company that can help uncover what’s really going on:
- How many leads did I get last month?
- How many of those leads came by phone vs. web form?
- How many of those leads came from SEO vs. PPC vs. direct website visits vs. other sources?
- How many of those “leads” were actually leads and not just a telemarketer or other junk call?
- How many of the real leads booked appointments?
- What percentage of the leads are my CSRs scheduling appointments with?
- Can you show me the percentage of booked appointments broken down by CSR?
- What’s my visit-to-lead conversion rate?
- Is that low, high, or normal?
- What’s a good benchmark for visit-to-lead conversion rates on HVAC websites?
- If it’s low, how can we improve it so I can make better use of my investment in driving traffic?
- What work did you perform last month?
- How many pages did you add and how did you decide which ones to write?
- Where did that content come from?
- Why is that the best way to write and publish them?
- What’s your view of SEO and content marketing as an equity-building investment that will continue to gain momentum?
- Can you show me other HVAC websites you’ve built and worked on?
- Does my website pass Google’s mobile-friendly test?
- What’s my page load time?
- Is that good?
- If not, what can we do about it?
- What’s your process for making sure my title tags, headings, and meta descriptions are properly optimized?
- Can you show them to me? (Just curious!)
- Do I have broken links on my site that could be hurting user experience and hindering my organic traction?
- How do you track performance of my investment beyond just showing me some rankings that fluctuate and differ depending on the device and location of the searcher?
- Have you ever heard of the phrase Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)?
- If not, could you look that up and tell me your thoughts please?
- What are our goals moving forward?
- Can we set some aggressive but achievable targets and discuss the progress every month with a standard of accountability?
- Can you use the baseline data you’ve hopefully been collecting all this time to give me some projections of what I can expect in the coming months in terms of increased traffic, leads, and sales?
- Can you give me a full breakdown of how my website and visibility stacks up against my competitors?
- Are you doing everything you can to cost-effectively promote me as THE authority in my marketplace?
- I may not have the same budget as the 800 pound gorillas in my market, but what can you do to squeeze value out of every dollar I’m investing with you and help me challenge them?
- What are the core values you and your team operate by?
Worried your HVAC marketing or SEO company isn’t up to par? 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