Despite the rapid evolution of search engines within the last few years, many solar companies continue with old-school SEO, overlooking that the game has changed…
- Nearly all solar keywords are localized. This means Google will show 3 Google My Business (GMB) office listings within a map pack, right below PPC ads and perhaps a paid map listing too. Regular organic results, almost always below the map listings, depend on your office location too.
- Review sites like EnergySage, SolarReviews, Yelp, Angie's List, and HomeAdvisor get far more traffic than every installer website. These sites cannot be outranked by most solar companies. Many consumers go directly to these websites to compare the best installers anyway.
- Many focus on keywords yet fail to recognize their website as a digital business card… the lack of sharp, intuitive design and professional creative is their bottleneck. This affects SEO by harming the User Experience (UX), which search engines can ascertain.
In short, many solar installers focus on SEO as done in the past, by manipulating Google via keyword stuffing and poor linkbuilding, failing to realize that search engines operate much more effectively to emphasize prospects’ needs.
Furthermore, we now have the pandemic to consider. This coronavirus has slowed the economy to a halt even as states open up. As both the number of cases and the death tolls from COVID-19 could increase exponentially, alongside massive unemployment claims, it is difficult to be optimistic before a vaccine is released.
For better or worse though, SEO never rests. Competition within the search engines always exists. Therefore, with an eye toward the future, now is the time to improve SEO, especially knowing that the solar industry will rebound soon enough.
Fortunately, SEO thrives as a low-cost channel. Try these modern ways to improve SEO, making real progress during this recession.
SEO Priorities for Today’s Solar Companies
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. – Leo Tolstoy
Create as many GMB and local listings for physical offices as possible.
Since Google almost always shows GMB listings right below the PPC ads, it makes sense to create these for as many physical office locations as you have, even if you only have a small presence there.
Google’s algorithm is both smart and lacking in this sense. It is adroit enough to realize that prospects want a local solar installer even without including their city or appending Near Me to their keyword search, so proximity of your office address to the searcher is the most important ranking factor.
Unfortunately though, Google heavily favors businesses within the searcher’s city or nearby it for better or worse, even if your solar installation team could easily serve any customer throughout the whole city or state.
This goes beyond Google My Business. Even though Google may be the gateway, the search engine results for solar are decentralized, meaning that your business needs a presence on quite a few websites outside of GMB and your own.
Take local websites such as Yelp and Nextdoor alongside those specific to the solar industry like SolarReviews and EnergySage seriously. This not only generates leads from these popular sites but also serves as local citations that improve the domain authority of your own website.
Fully develop review site listings.
This is as simple as treating these listings like your own website, with all possible features considered.
Complete your profiles by including proper categories, all service areas, keyword-rich descriptions, copywritten CTAs, and sharp creative. Ensure you respond to all reviews, good or bad.
These websites dominate the search results for most solar queries, save a local business or two and perhaps a solar publication.
Perfect your online reputation management strategy.
Reviews can be leveraged not only for SEO but also for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), so those that do find you convert.
Having reviews management software like BirdEye or Podium can help to manage this process. You can integrate your CRM with these platforms to have them send out automated emails and SMS for different locations and review sites when customers reach a specific stage in your sales cycle. You could also just have an internal CRM process in which a customer relationship manager or sales rep receives an automated email to request a review personally.
Consider the timing of when you send this review, typically as soon as possible after their solar system is installed. If your team notices any customers among the Yelp Elite or Google reviews with high Local Guides scores, definitely focus on them!
Furthermore, strive to get double-digit reviews on your Google My Business and Yelp listings, followed by any review site that appears at the top for keyword searches like Solar Company Near Me or Solar Installers Near me for your office locations.
Finally, consider sending a questionnaire to tease out keywords within the context of their review.
Here’s an extra tip… offer roofing or solar maintenance services as a low-ticket item, earning a review that in turn attracts more solar customers.
Create city pages.
These are pages on your own website dedicated to your physical office locations, and surrounding cities, that mention your services for that city. They help improve the relevance of your page for both your GMB listing, as a landing page from the Website button, and for organic listings below the local map pack. This generally works better than just throwing your addresses into the footer, especially if you have a multi-location business.
Here are some tips to optimize these pages:
- Include Company Name, Address, Local Phone Number, and Hours of Operation. This should be consistent across the web. Add schema for Local Business too.
- The title, meta description, and H1 should include the major city served. If your address is within a minor one, use the closest large city. Choose also a keyword phrase summarizing your company’s service… e.g. Solar Panel Installation Company.
- Have high-quality images showing local teams, projects, etc. with keyword-rich filenames and alt text.
- Have a section listing all nearby cities you serve.
- Embed a GMB location map, not a generic one.
- Internally link to pages describing all your solar services, such as solar batteries for backup energy storage and solar repair/maintenance.
- Include an outbound link to a local .gov or .edu site; accreditations work well.
- Show third-party reviews from GMB, Yelp, or from your reviews management platform.
- Link to important review sites like your GMB, Yelp, FB, and Nextdoor pages.
- Include these city pages within a dropdown in your navigation menu, ideally only one click away from every page on your site to reduce click depth. Link to these City pages from the body of the homepage as well. If not too many locations, include addresses in the footer too.
Consider a site redesign.
Now is ideal for a site redesign, making sense to focus on your internal efforts while the world slows down externally.
Make sure your changes reduce your site’s bounce rate. Ensure mobile-friendliness and strive for a page speed below 3 seconds. Consider a user testing platform with prospects similar to your customer base.
Know that UX directly affects SEO rankings, as seen under User Engagement for the Bing Webmaster Guidelines, which applies to Google as well.
Modern SEO for Solar During a Recession
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein
Within SEO, opportunities now exist to improve keyword rankings and earn more search engine real estate by taking action.
SEO is a comparatively low-cost digital marketing channel that never sleeps, even during tough times, for better or worse. Yet, most solar companies are still practicing old-school SEO without realizing it.
Palmer Ad Agency has worked with more than several solar companies, within both commercial and residential, along with possessing a solar portfolio that has recently grown by leaps and bounds.
Palmer brings a holistic approach to lead generation that integrates branding, PR, content, SEO, PPC, organic + paid social, marketing automation, and web development + design.
Contact us to improve SEO and digital marketing as a whole for your solar company, for modern times and despite the recession, today.
Ryan Lingenfelser is an SEO consultant that has partnered with Palmer Ad Agency for projects especially within solar. Learn more at RDLDIGITAL.