Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may as well be a 4-letter word for many solar companies. It’s usually a curse for the little guys and a boon for the lead aggregators. Follow these tips and you’ll give yourself a big leg up.
Local Solar SEO Factors
Solar SEO can be broken down into two main components: local SEO (map pack) and traditional SEO (website results).
Ranking the map pack has some overlap with web results, but there are a couple crucial distinguishing steps.
1. Make sure your business information is consistent everywhere
A consistent Name, Address, and Phone number across the web is an important ranking factor for local SEO (e.g. best solar installer in [your city]).
However, almost no solar SMBs get this right. Here’s how you can check how you’re doing.
Visit moz.com/local and enter your business information. They’ll spit out an easy-to-read graph telling you how other sites are listing your information (called local citations). The closer you are to exactly the same all across the web, the better.
2. Actually complete your Google My Business listing
Most people use Google to find what they’re looking for. Of course, Google is going to push their product (Google My Business) to the top of the search results. Check that you at least have these components:
- verified listing
- local service area defined
- website link
- appointment link
- multiple posts (3+)
- multiple geo-tagged pictures
- connected social media accounts
In general, try to use every single field available to you.
Traditional Solar SEO Factors
3. Acquire backlinks to your site
Google’s original thesis came down to backlinks. Sergey Brin and Larry Page surmised that search engines could order the mess that was the internet similar to how research papers’ credibility are measured: by how often others reference them.
This brilliantly simple insight formed the basis of Google’s PageRank algorithm, and it’s still the largest SEO factor.
That being said, they’re much further along than the wild west days of creating ghost-town websites with the sole purpose of linking back to yours.
Here are the pitfalls to avoid:
Focus on quality over quantity
Getting a “follow” backlink from SEIA is worth more than five from myfriendthesolarinstaller dot com (not a real website!).
Unfortunately, many marketing companies will sell you a backlinks package full of low-quality sites (low Domain & Page Authority) like these.
Diversify your anchor text
Many solar marketers will also cut corners by reusing specific anchor texts that make it obvious they’re buying links.
For example, you shouldn’t have 23 backlinks with anchors of “complete solar design installation serving los angeles cal mywebsite com” (though I’ve seen it).
If you’re acquiring links naturally or through a reputable source, this won’t be a problem.
Exception: it’s ok to have multiple links that are your name or website address.
4. Create (and follow) a cohesive content marketing strategy
If backlinks are where Google came from, quality content is where Google is going.
Remember that connecting searchers with content that answers their question is Google’s #1 goal, and it’s much harder to game the system than backlinks.
Start out by mapping searcher intents to your existing content (a fancy way of saying figure out what people are looking for and see if you have content that matches).
At this stage, you can also do a keyword gap analysis to find out what your keywords your competitors are ranking for that you’re not. Add them to your strategy.
Once you’ve mapped this out, create a content marketing plan that addresses the gaps.
Google is always trying to get better at matching what people search for with what they actually want. Stay ahead of them by producing helpful posts and videos.
Remember that connecting searchers with content that answers their question is Google’s #1 goal
5. On-page SEO: make your content easy for Google to crawl
After you’ve written your brilliant blog post, you still have a little work to do: you need to make it easy for your readers (and Google) to make sense of it.
This comes down to
- creating a good headline
- using an optimized URL
- having a compelling meta description
- using alt tags for your images
- weighting your keyword appropriately
- linking to your own content
- linking to high-quality external content
I’ve seen some bloggers find success without optimizing their on-page and technical SEO, but it’s like trying to lose weight through your diet alone. You can do it, but exercise can make the difference between being slim and having a six-pack.
6. Don’t skip the technical stuff
You likely already have Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics set up (if not, jump on that ASAP).
There are other factors that some business owners neglect.
- set your sitemap up properly
- use your robots.txt file
- minimize 404 errors
- avoid cannibalizing your content
- maximize your page speed
- implement schema markup
Again, don’t ignore these. It’d be like trying to win a race while wearing ankle weights.
Be Patient with Solar SEO
In the end, winning the solar SEO game won’t happen overnight (we have other strategies for that). People normally quit because it looks like nothing is happening for a long time.
But a daily 1% improvement leads to being 37 times better in one year. To succeed, you have to be patient enough to put in the work, day by day, drip by drip.
An easy first step you can take is use our free solar SEO audit tool. You can also call or email us if you’d like to talk through your specific situation.
Phone: (610) 762-6187
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