A #1 rank in local search doesn’t mean a business has Won the Internet. But it shows that the business sure must know what it’s doing in local online marketing, given the long list of “ranking factors” Google applies to pick the winners. They look at everything from the quality of the website to the amount of web traffic to the company’s online reputation.
So let’s see what we can learn from some HVAC company websites that Google displays as #1 in searches for “air conditioning service in [fill in the blank with a place name]”.
Note: We’re counting #1 as leading the stack of 7 listings near the top of Google local search pages or the start of the organic listings just below the stack. The actual top positions are sold as ads by Google and are typically followed by review or directory site listings: Yelp, DexKnows, etc. Also, a leading position in search can change any time, sorry to say.
Get links from high quality sites
Ibbotson Heating & Air Conditioning Co., #1 for “air conditioning service in Arlington Heights, IL” scored a valuable inbound link when it was nominated as a finalist in a reader poll by a local newspaper. Google considers newspaper sites as authorities, and placing the link near the words “best heating and A/C company” is another positive signal. Ibbotson also has a link from an HVAC training and certification company that may count as an authority site. Many of the other #1 sites receive inbound links from Better Business Bureau and internet yellow pages directory sites.
Give visitors something to do on the site
You don’t want site visitors to “bounce”, that is, take a look around and leave without lingering on the page or clicking anything. The home page for Max Mechanical Air Conditioning & Heating, #1 for “air conditioning service in Arlington, TX” displays an abundance of boxes and buttons to schedule calls or claim coupons.
Create some fresh content
Search engines like to see blogs or other content pieces that are original, genuinely useful, get updated and attract links from other sites. Several of the #1 HVAC sites run blogs; see this example from Empire Heating & Air Conditioning, #1 for Decatur, GA. Max Mechanical made the extra effort of commissioning infographics that attracted links from Pinterest, the big image sharing site. Greenwood Heating & Air Conditioning (#1 for Seattle) posted PDFs of manuals for air conditioners, thermostats and more equipment on its site, handy for customers but also a source of incoming links from other AC companies.
Standardize listings on directory sites
Google likes to see a consistent name, address and phone (NAP) across the many directory sites that list a business. Do a Google search for “Altitude Comfort Heating and Air” (#1 for Denver) and you’ll see a lineup of referring sites, including Google’s own listing on the right side, each aligned with the location information on the company website.
Mind site housekeeping details
The #1 sites pay attention to the little details that make it easier on search engine robots and real human customers. Page titles, for instance, should not just name the company but include likely search terms, like this: “Arlington Heights HVAC – Northwest Chicago | Ibbotson Heating Company”. Empire Heating created landing pages for each target neighborhood and product or service line (take a look at the bottom of their site’s pages to see the list).
Manage customer reviews
Search experts think that Google and the other engines scan review sites looking for the quantity of reviews, positive vs. negative sentiment and the “diversity” of reviews – in other words, not so loaded up with happy talk it looks like a business is trying to game the system. For an example of doing it right, take a look at the (#1 for Chicago) Four Seasons page on Yelp.com: There’s definitely a diversity of points of view and the Four Seasons business manager has personally responded to nearly every one, especially the negatives, giving an impression that the business encourages reviews and takes them seriously.