Online visibility is the key to your business success, but getting eyes on your website requires a deep understanding of how Google looks at and ranks sites. If you’re like most small business owners, you don’t have enough time to learn all of the intricacies of search engine algorithms and website design, which may, unfortunately, hurt your chances of coming up on the most important page of HVAC Google search results.
Even if you don’t have time to focus on SEO, we strongly recommend learning about the most important ranking factors when designing and updating your site. Doing so ensures you have a leg up on competitors while also priming your site for expert HVAC SEO services to take your organic traffic to the next level.
What Are Google Ranking Factors, and Why Do They Matter?
Search engines like Google need to be able to identify a website’s relevance to search queries. They do this using automated bots called search engine spiders to “crawl” through web pages and gather pertinent information regarding the site’s usability and relevance. Once the bots have indexed the site, they’ll send this information to Google’s algorithm, which will evaluate it according to various criteria, called ranking factors.
The way that Google’s search algorithm prioritizes and evaluates these factors changes constantly and has become very sophisticated in determining a website’s relevance in Google search rankings.
So why does this matter? People use search engines like Google to find information, especially about services like HVAC or plumbing. What’s notable is that according to various surveys (conducted by SEO research firms like Moz), most people don’t ever go past the first page of search engine results. What this means is that if your website doesn’t meet Google’s ranking requirements, it won’t show up on the first page of search engine rankings and may essentially not exist for the majority of potential customers.
Another reason why designing your website with Google ranking factors in mind is that it generally helps you develop a better website. Google always aims to provide users with the best possible experience, so complying with ranking factors such as high-quality content, mobile-friendliness, and fast page speed will make browsing your site a pleasure for visitors. The better your site, the easier it will be to convert increased organic traffic into paying customers and long-term brand recognition.
Top Ranking Factors for HVAC Services in Search Engines’ Search Results
People go to websites to get information, which is why Google’s ranking algorithm prioritizes high-quality, fresh, and innovative content. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to creating high-quality content, so it’s important to understand what criteria to prioritize.
- Uniqueness and Value: Your content needs to stand out from the crowd — simply repeating what hundreds of other websites have already said or posting duplicate content will quickly tank your search engine ranking. While creating novel content for a target keyword can be challenging, the boost to your Google ranking is well worth the effort.
- Freshness: Keeping your content updated and fresh shows Google that you are investing in providing useful and trending information. In addition to your regular content, consider adding seasonal blogs or posts and take advantage of Google Trends to identify new topics to explore.
- Length: Content length is a direct ranking factor that influences how Google evaluates your content’s quality. Unfortunately, no standard rule determines how long your posts should be since the length will depend on the topic, your audience, and the content’s purpose.
- Structure and Organization: High-quality content organized into titles, headings and subheadings is easier to read and understand for most users. Breaking information into smaller chunks also makes content more mobile-friendly, playing into another of Google’s key ranking factors.
2: Backlinks and Internal Links
Links are one of the most confusing aspects to search engine optimization novices, as there are plenty of different links that can affect your Google rankings. These include:
- Backlinks, or inbound links, which are external links on other pages that lead back to your own website. These links are so important because Google’s ranking factors consider inbound links as a vote of confidence, especially when they’re from authoritative and reputable sites.
- Outbound links, which are links on your site that point to other, reputable websites. They’re useful in backing up claims or helping customers find additional information on a topic.
- Internal links pointing to content on your site, which can also help improve your SEO ranking factor and user interaction by helping users find additional information without needing to go to unrelated websites.
While all links are useful, backlinks are the most important, as they’re the most difficult to get. They provide third-party confirmation of the authority of your content. It’s easy to link back to your site but much harder to get someone else to endorse you and your brand.
Since building reputable backlinks requires time and effort, it’s tempting to resort to unscrupulous methods to buy low-quality backlinks. However, since it’s such an important ranking factor, Google has cracked down on low-quality backlinks, and they may actually reduce your ranking. Instead, consider using link-building strategies such as:
- Thought leadership: If you consistently produce novel, innovative content, people will organically start quoting you as the authority on the subject. This approach requires consistency and dedication to producing the best writing on a particular topic, which requires a lot of effort.
- Outreach: Don’t hesitate to contact authors of posts or white papers that you like and that relate to your niche. Reaching out and pitching your pieces to other websites is the standard approach to generating high-quality backlinks and creating mutually beneficial relationships.
- Guest posting: You may not be comfortable cold-calling other companies and asking for free backlinks. An alternative is to offer to write guest posts for industry leaders and post links to your site in the post or in your bio instead.
3: Search Intent
Search intent refers to figuring out what the user wants to see when they type in a particular keyword.
Taking this important Google ranking factor into account when developing your site is essential, as it ensures that you receive targeted and motivated organic traffic to your site. Google will even take into account a user search history when providing results tailored towards a particular intention.
The four main types of search intent include:
- Navigational or branded searches, when the user already knows the site they want to visit
- Informational searches, when the user wants to get more general information on a topic
- Transactional searches, when the user knows what they want but doesn’t care where they get it from
- Commercial searches, when the user wants to buy something but plans to get more information before committing to a product
4: Loading Speed
Website performance has always been one of the most important Google ranking factors, and it’s become even more important after Google announced it was part of its Core Web Vitals in May 2021.
Page speed refers to how fast a particular web page loads. What makes page load speed so tricky is that it involves many factors, some of which you can control and some of which you can’t. While you can change the size or compression of your images, you may not be able to change your hosting provider or location, which can affect loading speeds.
5: Mobile Friendliness
Mobile devices have been the primary way in which people access the internet for the past seven years — almost 60% of 2022’s global web traffic originates from mobile phones, according to Statista.
Google has responded accordingly by making mobile usability a priority. The search engine adopted a mobile-first indexing strategy, where it will use your site’s mobile version for crawling and indexing. You can improve your mobile ranking factor by considering aspects such as:
- Mobile-friendly site design, including clean and efficient layout, one or two clicks to get anywhere on the site, and non-scrolling forms.
- Optimized images that load quickly and are clear on a small screen.
- Click-to-call options that let users interact with you quickly and effectively.
- Short titles and snappy posts that are easily digestible by people reading on a mobile device.
6: Core Web Vitals
Search engines rely on providing users with the best possible experience. As part of its page experience update, Google provided guidance on what it considers the most important aspects of how people interact with web pages. These include:
- Largest contentful paint: How long it takes for the page to load
- First input delay: How long it takes for the site to register the first user input (click or tap)
- Cumulative layout shift: The stability of the layout as the page loads, with minimal popups or unexpected movements
Keyword research will always form a key component of any SEO strategy — they’re what people will use to generate search results and can inform search intent and where they are in the buyer journey, allowing you to tailor content to their needs.
The days of keyword stuffing and exact-match domains are mostly over, and nuanced keyword usage is the key to moving up in search results. Keyword research needs to factor in currently trending keywords, whether you’re focusing on improving your global or local search ranking, and what stage of the buyer journey you want to target. It’s also good practice to use keywords in various places, including:
- Title tags and meta tags
- Meta description
- Internal link anchor text
Consider also adding keyword variations in the heading or title tag, and if you’re aiming to improve your local ranking, add location markers to tie your content to a specific area.
8: Website Structure
Website structure refers to how easily bots can index your site. Most Google ranking factors rely on this information to produce search engine results, so making your site as easy to access as possible can improve your site’s performance.
The simplest way to help Google index your site is to submit a sitemap, using the Google Search Console, that explicitly tells Google which pages you prefer to show in search results. This feature is extremely useful if you have several URLs leading to the same content, which may negatively affect your content and local ranking factors.
While you can manually create a sitemap, you can also generate one automatically through your content management system or third-party tools if you don’t use a CMS.
Another facet of website structure that is important for Google ranking factors is broken links. These links don’t lead anywhere and can lead to a drastic reduction in your Google ranking. Luckily, it’s easy to identify and repair a broken link via the Google Analytics dashboard, which you can access once you’ve created a Google account.
In 2014, Google confirmed that it viewed the use of HTTPS instead of HTTP as one of its ranking factors. The traditional HTTP communication protocol passed user data between the user’s browser and a website. However, this data was completely open and vulnerable to attack.
HTTPS adds a security layer by requiring the website to present an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. Getting an SSL certificate is relatively simple, and many hosting providers offer free certificates through their CMS portals.
Having an SSL certificate does more than just affect your search engine ranking — it also affects how users view your site. Google’s browser shows a warning whenever someone tries to access an unsecured site, which leads to an increased bounce rate, as most people turn back to find an alternative site. While investing in an SSL certificate may feel like busywork, it’s a vital component of operating online in 2022.
10: Domain Authority
Domain authority refers to your site’s expertise on a particular topic. It relates closely to the content you publish and the backlinks you generate, but it also factors in your business’s local ranking, Google review count, and internal link structure.
Most SEO tools offer a domain authority calculator, but usually, focusing on other Google ranking factors will organically raise your DA score.
Let the Experts Handle Your SEO
Keeping your site up-to-date with the latest ranking factors can feel like running on a treadmill — a lot of work for no visible results. At Relentless Digital, we understand the needs of small business owners and can handle your SEO and marketing strategy, freeing you up to run and grow your business.
Whether you need help developing a marketing strategy, establishing pillar content, or just desiring a quick website tune-up, our Relentless Digital team is standing by. Schedule your free appointment by calling us at (262) 393-4241 or booking online today. We look forward to helping you take your business to the next level!