Must-Have Elements for Your HVAC Website
How do you know a great HVAC website when you see one? Great question! A great website has two optimized sides; one you see and one you don’t.
Watch our interview with Don Marks, HLM Sr. Digital Marketing Strategist and Jon Bowerman, HLM CTO and Co-Founder, already in progress:
What Makes a Good HVAC Website?
Let’s start with the things you see on the surface. If you're looking at a website, there are pictures, videos, navigation, and text. This is called the content, or the things you can see and interact with. Then, there is 75% of everything else, which we would say is even more important. This is everything that makes your website work.
It’s that 75% of everything else that really what differentiates a good website and a great one.
Think of websites like cars. You could have two cars that look good on the outside. They look fast, the color is awesome, they are shiny and inviting. Open the doors and they have a new car smell, they are inviting to sit in and they are very comfortable. If you were given the choice to take one home, it would come down to performance, or what’s under the hood. Let's say one has a four-cylinder and one has a V12.
On the surface, both cars looked amazing, but given the choice, in a side-by-side comparison, nobody would choose the four-cylinder. Websites aren’t too far from that. You could have 2 identical websites with amazing pictures and great content. But what matters to Google, and to your visitors is how your website performs. How easy is it to navigate or find what you’re looking for? When someone clicks to your website, what’s the load time? Is it going to take 10 seconds to load or is it going to take two? By the way, Google wants it to take two. If it takes longer than 3 your visitors are bouncing too.
How does it handle, I mean, how's it going to work on all the kinds of devices people use to surf the web? It better be a great mobile experience or guess what, Google won’t like it. More people are accessing information on mobile devices than they are desktop and laptop devices, which is it makes it important that your website looks great and everyone has a great experience.
Website security is important to everyone.
There are also things like the security of your website. If your website gets compromised, if there’s malware, if there is a security issue Google will drop you like a hot potato.
Nobody likes to think about what goes, what happens if something goes wrong. And the most important thing you can do for your business is to ensure that your website, the face of your business is up and running 24/7. If it goes down, if it’s hijacked if there is a problem, how quickly can you restore it? Do you have a backup?
And those are the things that I like to call the tip of the iceberg. The parts of a great website that are obvious and above the water. There is a whole bunch of other stuff, the 90% you can’t see, below the surface.
And don’t forget about making sure your website is relevant. For example, right now in Michigan, it's 15 degrees. There's not a lot of people in Michigan right now looking for air conditioning service. So, when I go to your website, do I see a banner about furnaces or a banner about air conditioning? If it’s air conditioning you’ve just lost a season’s worth of opportunities.
Another thing you can do yourself is to check your website speed. How fast does your website perform? Go to Google and search “Google mobile speed test” Click on the first result. It'll take you to Google's own tool. Type in your website URL, and Google will tell you how fast your website loads. And if it's anything below good, then you've got a problem. That's something that you definitely want to work on because it's limiting your ability to get new customers.
What Content Should I Have On My HVAC Website
When we’re talking about a great website, it’s important to talk about the content; what defines quality content and who we are writing for, Google or people. Those are two different audiences with two different missions.
First and foremost, a great website speaks to the consumer and provides a great user experience. It needs to answer the questions or concerns that a potential customer has about the issue they are having and provide the trust signals they need to feel confident calling your phone. It needs clear and direct calls to action and always be leading them through the sales funnel.
It needs to showcase manufacturer brands and your certifications and show pictures of the people they are working with. And it needs to be relatable and conversational.
Then, we need to add in the SEO content and all the little things that get Google’s attention. From a technical perspective, we just want to make sure that we're checking the boxes of making sure that content follows best practices so that we enable your website to have the best opportunity to be visible when people are making those searches
What’s the Most Important Piece of Content on Your Website?
Your phone number! Make sure you've got a phone number in the upper right corner of your website, in the footer, on your contact page and everywhere it makes sense, in between. So many businesses make it hard for a customer to find their phone number, which is, incredible. Here you have a customer who clicks on your site and is ready to do business. Why make them search for a way to call you? Why bury it on the contact page? That’s a total conversion fail.
Not to mention, they start to feel that if that's how hard the first experience they have with your businesses, how hard will it be to work with you.
Your HVAC website needs authentic pictures.
When we’re talking about HVAC website content and pictures, there are really three kinds of images for photos. The three types of images are stock photography, professional photography, and DIY.
Stock photography is professional photography, but it's generic. We can buy stock photography from, a third-party company and put it on your website. In fact, oftentimes websites mix in stock photography for banner images. You've probably seen stock photography used everywhere from websites to billboards, to mailers. It typically looks like models, in awkward poses, with unnatural looks on their faces. It’s usually too perfect. That’s how you can recognize it.
Then there is professional photography that's unique for you. You can hire a professional photographer to come out to your business and photograph your team, you, the office, your company trucks, and all kinds of different things like that. Now, one of the hurdles with professional photography is that it can sometimes be out of the budgets, especially if you are just getting started.
Last, is DIY photography. There have been some really great films shot on smartphones. A decent picture on an iPhone of you as the business owner or your team or, your staff out there on the job site goes a long way for earning trust. DIY pictures that are authentic will be some of the best photos to have on your website because people today are looking for authenticity. We want to know we're doing business with hands down every day.
We would take an okay picture that's real from an iPhone over a perfect stock photo.
Your HVAC website needs to be easy to use on any device.
We've talked a lot about what's on a great HVAC website, but what about its actual foundation and how it's built? One of the cool things about doing digital marketing is there's the front-facing website, which is what everyone sees when they click on it.
And then there's kind of all the key technical things that go on behind the websites. It’s what makes pictures load fast, and what makes your content, phone number, and logos align where they're supposed to be. It ensures your business looks amazing on every device from phone to tablet to laptop to desktop and even television monitors.
Making sure that all the technical variables of your website are in place is super important because more and more consumers are making impulse decisions. That means you need a great visual experience and a fast website so they can have immediate gratification.
Design for mobile users and add to it for desktop users.
Think about how you search on a mobile device vs a laptop or desktop. Mobile users are usually looking for a quick answer. They are scrolling with their thumbs, they are pushing buttons with big fingers, not a skinny mouse pointer. They want to see the right information where they're expecting to see it so that they can click on a button to make it easy.
Aside from the user experience, we also consider the owner experience. Different business owners have different needs. Some business owners like to be very hands-on and want to go in there every month or every season in HVAC and update their offers. Some may even want to be able to post when there's going to be a weather emergency or special offer.
One of Our Top Goals for HVAC Websites is to Earn Trust
Most importantly in the heating and cooling industry, we want to definitely push a level of trust when clients are landing on our HVAC websites. How are ways that HLM, a metro-Detroit web design company is be able to kind of orchestrate that within our websites?
Certifications indicate authority.
Certifications could be your state license in the area that you're operating or advanced certifications for the specific heating and cooling systems. They could be logos of the brands you carry, to help imply trust through brand recognition.
Reviews are essential to earning trust.
The first opportunity for trust is making sure that you have great Google reviews. Cause that's oftentimes consumers check your reviews before going to your website. But I think beyond that, once they arrive at your website you need to have the right certifications that consumers would expect to see amongst you and your competitors.
Then comes testimonials and reviews. The more authentic your testimonials and reviews are the more social proof you have that you do good work. It’s much more compelling than you writing about how great you are. So, ideally, your website would include pictures of your customers with a sentence or two about their experience. The north star, of course, would be video testimonial. Right now, videos are one of the biggest opportunities for small businesses, and especially HVAC companies to earn consumer trust and rank higher in search results.
Videos can be quickly and easily shot on a technician’s iPhone or Android phone. It can be as quick as 30 seconds. Something like, “Hey, we just wrapped up a job here at the Smith home and we're just getting some feedback because they love how warm their house is with their new furnace…”
Consumers want a company that's going to recommend the best solution for them.
And different customers buy for different reasons. Some customers buy solely based on how much they think they can trust the company because they don't have a lot of time to research. They may see a Google My Business listing for an HVAC company near them with great reviews, click to their website and it looks great. They see some logos, a picture of the owner and that’s good enough.
And then there are customers that will pick a company based on the best offer. Maybe they don’t have an emergency. They have time to price shop, ask for referrals, and have time to compare reviews, compare websites, and look for the best offer. What we like to do for our HVAC clients is create a website and GMB listing that communicates to both types of buyers, the ones that are looking for a great offer and the ones that are looking for a company that they can trust.
And by the way, there's no harm in the customer that's looking for a great offer. Also, to see that they can very much trust your business. It just makes your argument that much more compelling. HLM can help you with your website and all of your HVAC digital marketing needs.
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