What do marketing managers at solar firms dream of at night? Perhaps something like the following scenario.
A homeowner in Northern California turns to his wife and says, "Honey? I think it's time we install some solar panels." The homeowner gets online, goes to Google Search, and types in "solar panels in Northern California." The marketing manager's solar company is the first result. (In variations of this dream, the marketing manager's solar company pops up third, or fifth. In nightmares, the firm doesn't show up at all, or worse, their competitor's site turns up.)
The bottom line here is simple. The firm rose to the top of the rankings thanks to search engine optimization (SEO.) And odds are the homeowner will click on that solar firm's link, transforming himself into a high-quality lead. This tells you all you need to know about the power of SEO for solar lead generation. But we'll tell you more anyway. Specifically, we'll talk about how to get SEO right while also hitting on common misconceptions around SEO.
At the most fundamental level, SEO and with it, solar lead generation shouldn't feel like work. It shouldn't be a burden, like an added layer of administration or another box on your to-do list. That's because effective SEO leverages basic inbound marketing tasks you are already doing. The most obvious example of this, of course, is your solar blog and Web content strategy. If your firm publishes a consistent, intelligent, and thoughtful blog that speaks to the needs and concerns of your targeted audiences, you're already making tremendous progress on the SEO front.
And that's because search engines — especially Google's search algorithm — reward content that is published by real live humans and resonates with real, live readers. For years, "black hat" SEO outlets have been trying to game the system by flooding the Internet with shoddy content. Google, in response, launched a series of algorithm updates — Penguin, Hummingbird most notably — which essentially put these people out of business. Therefore, if a SEO consultant promises to put your brand on top of Google Search results within three months, be wary. There are no short cuts here. In fact, if you work with a SEO consultant, we encourage you to read this informative piece from Search Engine Land, entitled "Six Reason to Fire Your SEO Agency."
Speaking of shortcuts, let's briefly talk about keywords. Keywords remain an important component of SEO, but again, algorithms are wising up. The days of awkwardly cramming a blog post with keywords are over, precisely because it’s awkward and unnatural. Be judicious in your keywords, and more importantly, make sure they serve a higher purpose — intelligent and user-friendly content.
Conversely, we're seeing how "social signals" can increasingly improve your SEO efforts. "Social signals" are simply Likes, Re-Tweets, etc. Anytime someone gives your content a proverbial thumbs up, search algorithms pay attention because it connotes value. Therefore, make sure to promote your content on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Also place sharing buttons on your blog so readers can share the content on their own.
So what do you think? How big of a part is SEO in your firm's solar lead generation strategy? How do you articulate the value of SEO to your boss? What important element of SEO did we neglect to mention?