17 Jul 2018

A Solar Company SEO #TruthBomb To Save Your Cash

Solar providers frequently find things like SEO and digital marketing a headache, and sometimes these headaches can keep them up at night. It doesn’t have to be this way at all.

Its common for a prospective customer to look for a solar company online, and these potential customers will likely use a search engine to find solar providers that are a good fit for them.  So, there is actually a lot to be said for investing time and energy into your company’s search engine optimization.

There are common misconceptions about solar SEO that steered many solar companies in the wrong direction. When these misconceptions are put into practice, they can result in a large amount of time and money lost, and minimal, if any results for your solar business.

A Huge Problem With Solar SEO

For just a moment, try to visualize the journey your potential customers take when searching for and finding a solar provider. From the initial realization that they need solar, to locating your offices online, to contacting you for an appointment. What does that actually look like?

Let’s use a solar company in the Sacramento area as an example. What general path will your potential customer take?

The following is how most solar companies view it:

  • The potential customer will become aware of their need for a better energy option, and will get ready to conduct an online search.
  • They visit Google.
  • Because they are located in Sacramento, they conduct a search for “solar Sacramento” or “best solar company in Sacramento.”
  • They find your website because you’re the best solar company in Sacramento.
  • They contact your offices through the website.

Is your answer like the one above? If so, that’s ok!  Most solar company owners don’t truly understand how a prospective customer searches online.  The route a searcher actually takes to find your solar business is not nearly that direct.

Let’s break down three common assumptions illustrated in the example above:

  • Potential customers usually know they need a solar provider before they search for one.
  • These customers usually conduct simple keyword searches to find a solar company.
  • And they search for solar companies directly.

(Another assumption is that these potential customers are using a laptop rather than a mobile device.  And if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll be adding more obstacles to your SEO efforts.  But that’s a discussion for another blog post.)

If you’re developing a strategy for your SEO efforts based off these assumptions, you run the risk of wasting money and time and not getting any results.

When SEO Isn’t Working How Solar Companies Want it To

If your solar company’s SEO strategy is based on the assumptions outlined above, you’ll quickly find yourself frustrated with the lack of results.  You’ll have a tough time attracting new visitors to your site and converting those website visitors into leads, and then customers.

Your business could be struggling to retain its existing customer base.  To cope, you may resort to expensive “SEO specialists” to fix your solar company’s SEO.

The problem with this approach is that many of these specialists will temporarily fix your SEO with less-than-ethical tactics.  But since your whole approach is based on the above misconceptions, these sketchy techniques won’t help in the long run, and could even damage your solar company’s digital reputation. It’s time to go back to the basics of how search engine optimization actually works.

How SEO Actually Works For Solar Companies

Let’s take another look at the example stated above with the solar company in Sacramento and dive deeper into those assumptions.

Assumption 1: “Potential customers Usually Know They Need a Solar Proivder Before They Get on Google and Search For One”

Potential customers don’t always know they need a solar provider before they start searching for one. It sounds odd, right? Let me explain.

Let’s say someone has started noticing very high utility bills. They go on Google and create searches along the lines of, “How can I save money on my utility bills?” and related keyword phrases such as “efficient” and “green energy” to become aware of the problem they’re having.

Before searching for a solar company, they DO know that they have a problem that they need help solving.  And the key to generating leads is having informative content that addresses the types of issues that a potential customer may have. This heavily influences their decision to select your solar company to service them.

Assumption 2: “These customers Usually Conduct Basic Keyword Searches to Find a Solar Company”

Consider the search for “Tommy Hilfiger Jacket Macys.” This example assumes that someone will conduct a vague search.  It’s possible that this person just wanted to know if Macys carried Tommy Hilfiger Jackets.  But if they already know what they’re looking for, the search will be much more specific.

Imagine the different results you’d get by searching for “Tommy Hilfiger Jacket Macys” vs. “Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Lightweight Taslan Jacket Macys Sacramento.”  The first search is broad and will bring in lots of different results of different Tommy Hilfiger jackets.  The second one is highly specific.  Google will tell you if any Macy stores in Sacramento have that specific jacket.

People do not want to scroll through pages and pages of results. They want a quick answer. The same goes for your potential customers when they ask questions on Google. They are not likely to search for “Solar Companies in California” then scan through thousands of results. They have a specific question about their problem and they want a clear solution to that problem.

Potential customers could ask questions like “How can I save money on my utility bills?” or, “Why is my bill so high?”

Those are specific inquiries. When potential customers ask specific questions, Google will attempt to provide specific results.

Addressing these questions with high-quality content on your solar company’s website and blog helps you attract more potential customers.  Your content points out a problem that your potential customer has and provides them with information they need.  This builds trust and encourages your readers to contact you (and improves customer retention as well).

Assumption 3: “They Search For Solar Companies Directly”

Potential customers tend to search for solar companies differently than other consumer products.  They’re looking for needs that are more pertinent to their well-being than say… a clothing store.

Someone may search for “Tommy Hilfiger Jacket Macy’s Sacramento” to see if a local Macy’s has the jacket in stock.  But this jacket is a consumer product.  This person already has an idea of what they want and where they can get it.  It’s a simple purchase.

Choosing a solar provider is a more complex process. Choosing the right one is more of an in-depth and important process due to the nature of the work. Solar services are not consumer products, and potential customers won’t be searching for them in the same way they do for consumer products.

An Example of How Potential customers Find Solar Companies Through Search

Here is an example of how you can effectively utilize SEO for your solar company:

  1. A potential customer conducts a Google search for: “My PGE bill is really high, can solar lower it?”
  2. Your solar business wrote a blog article on this topic with plenty of useful information. (The benefits of solar, how it can save homeowners money, or how many homeowners are making the switch to solar and seeing reduced energy costs…) You write the post in the language that the potential customer uses, making it relatable and easy for them to understand.
  3. This potential customer reads your blog, and it has given them an answer to their question. Now that they are reading your solar company’s blog, they check out more of your site and read other content that you’ve written.
  4. When what you’ve written is educational and helpful, the potential customer begins to trust you. Your content shows potential customer that you understand their power issues and you can offer them substantial value.
  5. They will contact you when they want more information or they’re ready to use your services. You nurture your leads until they find a need to move to the next stage in their buying journey.

* The word “solar” in the first point above is a keyword that is related to your solar business.  But competing for rank with the word “solar” alone is extremely difficult (especially for a small solar company). So how can you rank for popular terms like “solar”? Add it to a long-tail keyword (and use long-tail keywords in specific places on your solar business’s website and blog posts).

(Note that the more specific your phrasing is, the less competition you will have for those terms, and the more likely you are to attract qualified potential customers.)

What Solar Companies Need To Know About SEO

Many solar providers get irritated when discussing SEO because they think just having a website for their solar company should be enough to attract qualified potential customers.

Believing this misconception may cost money, time, and possibly your business’s online reputation.

Some SEO companies and marketers who sell solar companies will tell you how “complicated” SEO is.  When a solar business owner thinks SEO is confusing or lacks the time to acquire the skills to optimize their presence online, they are more likely to make unwise decisions out of desperation. They could spend funds on services they don’t need that won’t help them build a successful online presence. We don’t want you to waste your time on tactics that are too risky or just plain ineffective.

And naturally, taking this hasty leap may damage your online reputation. There are SEO and marketing companies that use tactics that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.  The tactics they use are an attempt to cheat Google’s algorithm (which doesn’t help you long-term). Be wary of these marketers.

While these tactics may be tempting, just be aware that they’re a temporary fix and quick boost. Your solar company could pay the price when Google’s algorithms evolve and adapt, leading to worse rankings and a ruined online reputation. Some solar companies will then use another firm to fix the problems the last one created… and this continuous SEO loop repeats until proper changes are made.

By understanding how your potential customers search for a solar provider, you can prevent your solar company from wasting valuable resources like money and time, and maintain your solar company’s good online reputation. Before deciding that your website has a problem that needs fixing, make sure that you understand how search engine optimization and your target audience operates.

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