For HVAC and solar businesses, local rankings play a huge role in the growth and success of your company. So what exactly determines your company’s rankings in local search results?
The two most significant factors determining your local rankings are your Google My Business (GMB) listing and proximity to searchers.
To help you better understand (and improve) your local rankings, we’ll cover:
- How GMB listings and proximity determine your “local pack” rankings
- Easy-to-follow tips for improving your company’s local rankings
But before we dive into those two points, let’s discuss one crucial distinction.
Local pack vs. organic rankings: What’s the difference?
The “local pack,” aka the “map pack,” refers to the highly-coveted first 3 spots in the map that appear on the first page of results for any search query with local intent.
For example, here at Rocket Media HQ in Gilbert, AZ, I typed in a Google search for “HVAC company in Gilbert.”
Because the “...in Gilbert” signifies local intent, Google automatically provided a local pack on the first page of search results (see below).
As you can see in the screenshot above, the 3 local pack results are shown above the organic results. This top-of-the-page placement makes local pack rankings very important for local businesses.
Below, we’ll focus on the two main factors that determine whether your company appears in local pack results:
- Your proximity to the searcher
- Your Google My Business (GMB) listing
How your proximity affects your map pack rankings
Here’s the sometimes-good-sometimes-bad news: Whether or not you show up in the local pack mainly depends on how close you are to the searcher/user.
Note: This factor is primarily out of your control. If you’d like to learn more about the factors that are in your control, skip to the section titled “How your GMB listing affects your local rankings.”
So how far away can you be from the user and still rank in the local pack?
Well, that’s a Google secret that, quite frankly, no one has cracked. Of course, that’s because it all depends on how competitive your area is when it comes to your service/industry. However, studies have shown that the local pack most commonly displays companies that range anywhere from .3 miles to over 3 miles from the user.
For some companies, at first glance, this is disheartening news. How can your company compete with other HVAC or solar companies closer to your target audience?
Besides proximity to the user, another factor plays a significant role in your local pack rankings: your company’s GMB listing.
And the good news? You have much more control over this factor.
How your GMB listing affects your local pack rankings
Put simply; a Google My Business listing is essential to any local SEO strategy.
However, simply having a GMB listing is not enough. Ensuring that you have an accurate and updated GMB listing is the goal. In fact, in some cases, a complete GMB listing might be more valuable than a high-ranking listing.
And that leads us to our somewhat surprising advice: Focus less on your local pack rankings and more on your GMB conversions.
You see, local pack rankings in and of themselves don’t guarantee more business. A GMB listing in the #1 local pack spot doesn’t mean much if it’s an empty or incorrectly filled-out listing. A complete, accurate, and enticing listing (even if it’s ranking #3 or #4) will almost always convert better than an incomplete, inaccurate listing in the #1 spot.
So how can you optimize your GMB listing for higher conversions?
We’re glad you asked.
5 tips to optimize your GMB listing for more conversions
1. Get more positive reviews
In concept, this one is simple: more positive reviews=more traffic & business.
But we also know the hard part is asking for reviews. So we’ll give you a few tips that have worked well for our HVAC and solar clients.
- Train employees to ask for reviews after positive interactions.
- Send out email requests for reviews to satisfied customers
- Know Google’s policies when it comes to soliciting reviews (to avoid a suspended or deleted GMB listing)
Again, having a high number of positive reviews is the most significant factor in GMB conversions. If you don’t have a plan for gaining more positive reviews, you’ll quickly get left behind.
2. Encourage customers to use specific keywords in reviews
The right keywords can boost your rankings on review sites. They can also increase conversions—and remember, that’s what we’re trying to focus on.
To start, you’ll need to do some research to determine the keywords and adjectives that your customers are using when searching for your services. For example, are customers in your area looking for “fast AC repairs,” “masked HVAC pros,” or “free solar consultations”?
Once you determine the keywords customers use in their searches, you can focus on ensuring that your reviews incorporate these words/phrases.
But how can you control the words your customers use in their reviews? You can’t. But you can guide customers to focus on specific aspects of your service that you want to be highlighted, which increases the chance of particular keywords popping up in your reviews.
For example, send an email that requests happy customers to leave reviews. In the email, subtly encourage customers to use specific words by prompting them with the following questions:
- What was your favorite part of our X?
- Did we deliver on X?
- Describe your experience, especially when it comes to X.
3. Respond to existing reviews (positive or negative)
Responding to reviews shows potential customers that you’re invested in providing excellent customer service. Your responses can also prompt other customers to leave more reviews, as your replies show that you may see their feedback and care about their experience.
One study showed that 96% of consumers who read online reviews also read the business’ responses. That said, your responses go a long way when it comes to customers’ perceptions of your company.
4. Ensure your business information is correct and complete
Google is constantly adding new features to GMB listings. Optimizing your GMB listing means ensuring that you’re taking advantage of any feature GMB offers that can entice customers to convert.
To help, we’ve provided a quick checklist for all HVAC and solar companies:
- Ensure your business name is accurate and matches the name that is on your building, signage, website, and legal documents.
- Do not add your physical address. Instead, set up your company as a “service area” business and ensure all relevant areas you serve are listed.
- Only enter the cities, postal codes, or regions that you serve. Remember that proximity determines your ranking on the local pack, so adding more service areas won’t increase your ranking chances and will only hurt your business in the long run.
- Ensure your regular hours of operation are listed and correct. Also, provide information on your availability during holidays and closures.
- Use the proper GMB Category associations. Google My Business allows you to choose specific categories that match your company’s products or services. Ensure the categories you’ve selected for your company correctly fit your services.
- Include your website URL, and be sure to include the https://. If you’re a multi-location business, use the specific landing pages for each separate location.
- Ensure all of your services are listed; create a separate service and description for each specific service you offer.
5. Add photos
Google states that GMB listings with photos receive more clicks and interactions than listings without photos. So uploading photos to your listing is an easy way to optimize your listing for conversions.
We suggest adding professional photos that showcase various features of your business (i.e., show your installation team at customers’ homes, your customer service agents on the phone, and your leadership team in your building).
Need help improving your HVAC or solar business local rankings?
Contact Rocket Media and chat with one of our SEO specialists. We’ve helped HVAC, and solar companies all over the country improve their ranking on Google.
Related Article: HVAC SEO: How Quickly Can I Rank My Website?