Last week we presented Websites That Work at the 2009 HVAC Comfortech in Nashville, TN. Lots of contractors came, wanting to know how they could make their websites more profitable and customer-focused. There were a few questions that were asked repeatedly in each of the sessions, so I’d like to take the opportunity to share our answers to your most pressing issues.

Q. How do I decide how best to market my site, using a pay-per-click campaign or search engine optimization?


A. What I like about this question is that clearly, contractors are looking for results that can be measured. When considering a PPC campaign, it’s important to consider a few facts:
1. PPC will not improve your organic search rankings.
2. More people click on the organic results than on paid advertising.
3. PPC can get very expensive depending on how competitive your words are.

We stress the value of having an optimized website to boost your organic search rankings. Over the long term, the hard work and continuous adjustment will pay off. That being said, PPC can certainly drive traffic that will lead to sales. If you have the budget, add a PPC campaign to your site once you have begun down the road of search engine optimization. You can see the results, measure the ROI, and determine if it’s worth it for you. Hopefully, over time, as the search engines recognize and rank your site, you can decrease your PPC budget because you’ll be getting enough leads from your organic links.

Q. Should I have a mobile version of my site?


A. In today’s hyper-connected world, the more ways you can provide access to your site, the better. Internet access from a mobile phone is extremely popular. Carrying the internet in your pocket is a convenience that millions of people take advantage of. Got a problem with your home comfort system and you’re at work? No problem, pick up your phone, log on to your contractor’s website, do a little research, set up an appointment, whatever you need.

The only challenge is that your customer’s mobile phone browser may not be able to read all the different languages that websites are built in. The solution is pretty simple. Create a mobile version of your website that all phones can view. Done correctly, your site will recognize when a mobile user has logged on, and will automatically serve up the mobile version.

Q. There are hundreds of web development companies that can build my site. What should I be looking for?


A. Beyond the obvious of looking at their websites and deciding whether you like them or not, I’d say the most important thing is how much work you are going to have to do. Sure, there are thousands of web developers out there, but the vast majority of them are not going to write your content for you. Are you prepared to write 40 pages of web content?

Even more significant, most of these developers say they’ll do all the search engine optimization (SEO) for you. But what does that really mean? They’ll do the background coding? Do some keyword analysis? Maybe run a link program for you? That stuff is important, but it’s keyword usage that really counts. Your copy has to be written in a way that incorporates your keywords frequently (called keyword density) and in prominent position on the page (called keyword placement). So if you decide that “air conditioning repair” is an important keyword string, it’s going to take a specialized web copywriter to determine how to use that phrase on your web page. It’s also that same specialist who will determine which page it goes on (called a landing page) and where that page is in relation to all the other pages on your site.

If your web company says they’ll handle the content and they don’t understand your industry or can’t do it well, you’ve wasted your investment. And if they don’t provide the service at all, and want you to supply your own copy, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Since our last article, Questions From the Field was published, I have received many emails and calls with specific questions. I am working now to compile all of the answers and will publish them in the next issue.

Blaine Fox, Vice President of Warm Thoughts Communications, is a recognized expert on the residential mechanical services industry. He is currently working with some of the nation’s leading HVAC contractors to improve their marketing, fine-tune their operations and grow bottom-line profits. Previously, Blaine was general manager of ServiceMark, a $32 million HVAC contractor with more than 25,000 service agreement customers. Blaine oversaw 160 field employees, 30 install crews, 12 sales people and a call center that handled 140,000 calls per year. Blaine is a sought-after speaker, and presented at Comfortech 2009. He is also a frequent contributor to HVAC industry trade publications. He can be reached at bfox@warmthoughts.com.