HVAC SEO & Digital Marketing: Tips, Tricks & Strategies [2020 Update]

Peak summer’s approaching and HVACs are sure to have their hands full this season. After all, there was an added strain on home ventilation during the coronavirus lockdown. And with summer finally here, we can expect a rise in searches for HVAC services – as they do every year – with the biggest volumes to probably hit in July 2020.

Google Trends for "hvac near me"

 

If you’re an HVAC, then you need to adapt your HVAC marketing strategy to ensure you’re in the best position to survive, or even thrive, in this economic crunch and get more inquiries, more leads, and more appointments.

This complete SEO & digital marketing guide for HVACs will help you do just that.

Here you’ll find 6 highly actionable HVAC marketing strategies that will help you win across multiple digital channels and measurably increase your leads and booked appointments this season.

1. Create your website (if you haven’t done it already)

This one should go without saying. Creating a great website should be your number #1 goal. Think of your website as your digital home. It’s the main hub where users get to know more about you and likely make their final decision on whether or not to contact you.

“Cool,” you might say, “but what does a great website mean?”

Here are some website design and development Do’s and Don’ts.

Your website must fulfill your business goals

You should have a clear idea about what goals you want your website should accomplish.

Want people to learn more about you? Have a homepage and about us page that tells your prospects exactly who you are.

Want people to know more about your services? Have a separate services page, and consider creating videos that show how you operate.

Want to establish yourself as a leader in your industry? Publish articles regularly on your blog and brag about your past work through awesome case studies.

Want to connect with users and nurture leads? Capture emails by asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter.

What does conversion mean for you? Do you want people to call you or fill out a contact form? Have your phone number on the top right and make sure mobile users can call you with a single click. Consider adding CTAs in the right places to generate leads.

Your website must be responsive

This means creating a website that can change its look based on the device you’re using. Having a responsive website is crucial, because over 63% of Google searches now come from mobile devices, and there’s been a 150% increase in “near me now” searches on mobile devices over the last few years.

The numbers don’t lie. Your website must be mobile-friendly and provide users with an easy experience when they land on your website. Period.

Your website must be visually appealing

97% of users make decisions about a company based on its website. Ask yourself, would you really trust a company whose website looks like it was designed in 1998?  A visually stunning website incorporates modern design and leads to better user experience.

Your website must be SEO-friendly

We’ll cover this in more detail in tip #2. But a good website is one that is visible to search engines, can be easily understood and crawled by search crawlers and indexed by search engines.

2. On-page optimization for HVAC SEO

Search engine optimization works when Google’s crawlers (also called spiders or bots) discover your page and crawl/read it. There are different techniques you can use to make your HVAC website SEO-friendly. The techniques you use on your webpage are called on-site optimization.

On-site optimization includes the following:

Secured site

Google prefers secure sites, i.e. HTTPS, over plain old HTTP. You can secure your site by adding an SSL certificate. This will give you an SEO boost and also show that really nice lock icon on a browser’s address bar, which users also like.

Mobile-friendly

Google is moving toward mobile-first indexing for the entire web by September 2020. You need to make sure your website is mobile-friendly as that version will be indexed first, which will affect your ranking.

Page speed

A fast load-time for both mobile and desktop versions is critical, not just from an SEO perspective, but also from a user-experience point of view.

Quality backlinks

We’ll cover backlinks in more detail in tip #4. What you need to know is that backlinks remain one of the top 3 ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm and it’s darn near impossible to rank well without them.

Website content

Write relevant, easy to read content that’s created for human readers. Sounds simple enough, right? While using the right HVAC SEO keywords here and there is important, you are likely to be already doing that if the copy of your webpage is well-written.

Schema markup

If you’ve outsourced your search engine optimization efforts to a specialized HVAC SEO agency, ask them to add relevant vocabulary from schema.org to display rich search results that will show your Google review ratings and optimized organizational information.

Apart from the above, you can incorporate alt tags for images, use social signals, AMP and more.

3. Build Your Local SEO

76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a transaction.

No, go back, read it again, and let it really sink in.  We’ll wait…

.

Yup, that’s the potential of local SEO.

Local SEO helps businesses, like HVACs, promote their products and services to nearby prospects and customers. Try searching for “HVAC near me,” right now. You will see some businesses popping up in the local pack (which is integrated with Google Maps), along with their location, business information and Google review ratings. These are the HVACs that have already worked on their local SEO. They are your competitors – the ones you have to beat.

A Google 3-pack showing hvacs in orlando, fl

Here’s how HVACs can build their local SEO:

  • Optimize for Google My Business: GMB helps Google verify your business as authentic and is one the best ways to optimize for local SEO. Head over to Google My Business, create your company’s page by following the instructions on GMB and start building your local presence. Ask your happy customers to share reviews and answer their most popular queries. The two things that help the most with GMB are having an actual physical location in the area you’re targeting, and earning great Google reviews.
  • Optimize your website structure: This includes using relevant keywords in on your URL, title tags, headers, meta-description, and content. Add a sitemap and make it easier for your website to be crawled. Create localized content, such as a blog post or case study about the HVAC services you provided to the local municipal office, for example.
  • Get linked to local directories: Getting local citations is another key technique to your local SEO efforts. Get yourself listed on the most popular local directories users are likely to consult when searching for nearby HVACS.
    Top tip: See if you can get a Chambers of Commerce membership in your city, which will provide you a coveted .gov external inbound link. If you want more help on how to get listed on local directories, contact our team to find out how we can help you get those links.

 

Other helpful tips include having consistent business information across all channels, building your social media presence where you can highlight your business info, having a mobile-friendly website, and improving your internal linking structure.

4. Content Marketing & Link Building

Odds are that your prospects may just skim your blog, but that could be enough to convince them that you know what you’re talking about. Moreover, you can create topical content addressing covid-19. For example, you can create videos or blog posts that talk about how your HVAC business is following proper precautionary guidelines while providing home-call services. Make customers feel they’ll be safe even when you are entering their homes to provide services.

Find link building opportunities

  • As we’ve mentioned previously, backlinks remain one of the top 3 ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm and it’s very difficult to rank well without them.
  • Try to uncover link opportunities using free tools like Answer the Public or Ubersuggest, or use paid tools like Ahrefs.
  • See if you can discover guest blogging openings in your niche, pitch your content and earn external inbound links from reputable publishers to boost your rankings.
  • Create solid pieces on your blog that others would want to link to. Use the skyscraper technique to develop highly authoritative blog posts, which involves finding link-worthy content, creating the best content for that content, and reaching out to the right people to promote it. It’s exhausting and time-consuming … but it works. However, if you want to outsource it to professionals to do it on your behalf, we can help.

 

google search for best hvac blog 2020

 

5. Email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the best tactics that you can use to reach and engage your prospects. If you’ve already built an email list, then nurture these leads to generate business. You can also run special promotions and give attractive discounts to bring in more customers.

6. Use PPC Search Campaigns

PPC search ads, or search engine marketing, allow you to place your advertisements on search engines. You can set specific parameters for your ad campaigns, such as deciding on your ad budget, the keywords you’ll target, your bids, when and where to show the ads, etc. PPC is a highly effective way to generate leads, and if you’re looking for ideas to advertise your HVAC business, pay per click advertisements may just be the answer.

map of the united states showing interest in hvac searches
Interest in the U.S. for “hvac near me” searches

 

Helpful PPC Campaign Tips for HVACs

  • Identify the right locations: If you provide services in multiple regions, try targeting areas with high interest in HVAC related searches.
  • Have an optimized and user-friendly landing page: Your landing page is a key component of the Quality Score (QS). An optimized landing page can boost your QS and help lower the cost of your campaign since pages with high QS need to spend less than their competitors.
  • Set the right budget: You want your PPC campaigns to provide a positive ROI and not be a drain on your resources. Talk to your PPC team to find out what’s a competitive budget for your business.
  • Use ad extensions: The right ad extensions, such as call, price, review, location or structured snippet extensions, can set you apart from other ads and drive clicks to your site.
  • Try Google Local Services Ads: Google Local Services ads are available across the country for HVAC companies and are the first thing a user sees when they search for your services in your target region. HVACs can generate solid leads from local services ads, as they are promoted as “Google Guaranteed.” However, you should check out if local services ads are the right fit for your business.

 

Google Local Services ads

 

Conclusion

There’s a lot more we can get into when it comes to digital marketing for HVACs. But I hope this was a good place for you start. You’ve learned about the different channels you can use to gain more visibility. Now it’s time to start implementing them. Good luck!

Real Estate SEO: The Ultimate Guide + Examples, Keywords & Templates

Are you a realtor looking to rank your real estate website on the first page of Google? Or maybe you’re an SEO agency trying to get some traction for your real estate client. If that’s the case, then this article is for you.

Some real estate SEO guides are too simple and amateurish to be of any help. Others are too long and complex. This guide, however, is perfect for those who have a basic to intermediate understanding of SEO and want to learn exactly how they can optimize their real estate website. Follow our tips to rank your way to the top and generate hundreds, if not thousands, of leads without actively spending money.

In this article, we’ll show you:

  • How to develop a 360 strategy for effective real estate SEO.
  • The 3 real estate SEO pillars you need to know to rank your website.
  • An easy to follow guide (and checklist) which shows you how to master real estate SEO.

 

What is Real Estate SEO?

Simply put, real estate SEO allows you to show up on search engines whenever someone is searching online for a property. According to research, in 2019, 50% of homeowners found their desired properties via online sources.

Why Is It Important?

Lead generation and SEO for real estate is a tricky game. This isn’t some run-of-the-mill product that’ll retail for $10-$30. You can expect your customers to do extensive research online before they even visit a property. And with the digital boom, marketers have explored all online avenues, making the average cost per lead $40 for moderate real estate markets to $60 for slow real estate markets. That’s why paid marketing for real estate lead generation might not be a viable option for all real estate businesses.

The phenomenal spread of smart devices, coupled with internet access virtually everywhere, means that users are searching on the go. Online marketing for real estate companies is becoming increasingly competitive, and SEO – especially local SEO – has become mission critical.

Now, why did we just mention SEO?

  • Paid marketing will effectively target only those in the ‘purchase’ stage.
    With leads costing upwards of $30, no paid marketer is going to waste precious $$$ “educating” customers or nurture a user still in the awareness stage. Organic marketing or SEO is better in this regard because it automatically creates a funnel passing users from “awareness” to “consideration” and finally to “decision”. That’s because real estate SEO relies heavily on content marketing and high-ranking real estate companies will be those who provide the most complete information.

 

  • Organic marketing is long-term and will lead to auto-pilot leads.
    Paid marketing or pay-per-click advertising will get leads straight to your digital doorstep, but the moment you stop spending, the leads stop and you’re back to square one. On the other hand, SEO ranks up your profile over time and once you put in the time and effort to rank on a high-value real estate keyword, then you will not lose your position unless another real estate business puts in a greater effort to outrank you.

Look at Zillow for example:

This online real estate giant spends quite a bit on paid marketing. Case in point: all their ads for the keywords buy apartments in Seattle:

However, despite their impressive ad spend, they are also ranking #1 organically for the same search query:

image showing the organic ranking of Zillow

Now that we have established the importance of search engine optimization in real estate, let’s have a look at some strategies and tips you can follow to ensure that your real estate listings rank among the top spots for your desired keywords.

Here Are 14 Tips to Help You Optimize for Real Estate SEO:

  1. Claim your Google My Business listing.
  2. Use our winning formula to develop your real estate SEO keywords.
  3. Create localized, city-specific, content.
  4. Develop a mobile-first website.
  5. Optimize your HTML tags and descriptions.
  6. Upgrade to HTTPS.
  7. Implement schema markup.
  8. Add useful tools to your site.
  9. Optimize for image SEO.
  10. Fix broken links.
  11. List your properties on major platforms.
  12. Write guest blogs.
  13. Get local citations.
  14. Earn online reviews.

 

Let’s break down these 14 tips into three major categories, Local SEO, On-page optimization, Off-page optimization, and dive right in!

Local SEO

How many times have you searched something on your phone and you chose the search result nearest to you?

Well, that usually happens with physical businesses or a result that’s highly dependent on location. Those top 3-4 results have mastered local SEO that allows them to rank in Google’s knowledge box with valuable details that are not given to other lower-ranking results.

We are talking about the highly coveted “Google 3-Pack.” The top 3 location-based results for a particular search query.

This list used to consist of 7 results, but since 2015, Google has changed it to 3 results. Hence, the competition has gotten significantly harder and more than half of the businesses that used to rank in “7-packs” don’t have a place in the “3-pack”.

Take a look at these search results for “Electricians in Boston.”

Comparison between Google 3 Pack and & 7 Pack

If you own a real estate website want to appear on the top searches on Google, the first thing you need to focus on is getting the local SEO right. Now why is that important? Google does not display the same results for everyone. Your search results are personalized depending on your search history, preferences and location. This means that a person searching for condos in Miami, FL will find different results than one in Chicago, IL.

If you’re a real estate SEO, you will need to identify the regions where you want to rank well, and the pages you want to display in those search results. After all, there’s no point in trying to show a Miami listing to someone who’s searching for “condos in Chicago”

And the art of ranking on top in your targeted locations is, you guessed it, local SEO. But how do you go about optimizing your page for local SEO?

How To Optimize For Local Real Estate SEO

Claim Your Google My Business Listing

The first step in local SEO is claiming your Google My Business listing. This allows you to list your business details on Google, including your business name, business address and business phone number. We also call this your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number).

It’s very important that your NAP is consistent across all digital channels, such as your website and social media pages & accounts. Once you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing, you will start appearing on knowledge cards on Google SERPs, Google’s 3 Pack, and on Google Maps.

Google 3 Pack showing realtors in Houston

 

After your Google My Business Listing has been verified, you can also create citation accounts on Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Foursquare and other places. This ensures that when a user searches for real estate agencies or listings on these platforms instead of Google, you appear in their results.

Keyword Research for Real Estate

We’ve analyzed thousands of different real estate keywords to arrive at a winning formula. Our research shows that the best real estate SEO keywords use the following format:

  • “city name” real estate
  • “city name” homes for sale
  • “city name + state abr” real estate
  • “city name + state abr” homes for sale
  • “property type” for sale in “city name”
  • “property type” for sale in “city name + state abr”
  • “action + property type” in “city name”
  • “action + property type” in “city name + state abr”

 

You will need to study your market fully before you can create an exhaustive list of real estate keywords that will help you rank higher. However, you should also know Google is moving away from keywords to search intent – which is good news for both real estates and search users. This means that you can rank for keywords that are not explicitly mentioned on your page as long as you are satisfying a search query, while search users get to see relevant results that help them make a decision.

Create City Specific Content

Creating city specific content through blogs, transcribed videos and interviews is a great way for a real estate to rank their website. While this involves a lot of research and hours of writing, editing and publishing, the end result is worth it.

This also ties into the concept of E-A-T, which is an acronym for Expertise, Authority and Trust. Google will reward sites with high EAT and one way to improve your EAT is to be seen as an authority on the subject.

But how does that tie with local SEO?

Let’s talk about a fictional scenario: Emily is moving from her hometown of Scranton, PA to Chicago because she found a great job there. She’s looking to rent an apartment in the city. Probably the first thing she’s going to do, apart from asking around her social circle, is to Google “moving to Chicago.”

If you, a real estate agent, were to create useful, engaging and actionable content that answers Emily’s query by telling her everything she needs to know before making the jump, you increase the chances of her TRUSTING you to provide useful information and USING your website to find apartments in Chicago.

Example of a real estate sales funnel
Check out how Zumper develops an effective sales funnel by creating useful articles.

 

You need to be local and useful by creating content around each city where you want to dominate. Naturally, some cities will be easier than others depending on their search volume and competition.

Creating such top-funnel content opens up opportunities to hook a user when they are in their initial research phase. If you’re not sure about what to write, you can create useful content around the following topics:

  • City landmarks and attractions
  • Economy, jobs and top employers
  • Schools and neighborhoods
  • Restaurants and shopping
  • Transportation
  • Things to do

 

ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

On-page optimization is SEO-speak for making technical fixes and improvements on your website to help you rank higher. These fixes are prerequisites for winning at digital marketing for real estate companies.

Some of the things that we mentioned in Local SEO Optimization, such as keyword research and creating optimized content, fall under the category of on-page optimization as well. Obviously, we’re not going to be repeating them. But let’s discuss additional ways to optimize your website for SEO.

How to Optimize For On-Page Real Estate SEO

Be Mobile First

 Mobile version of realtor.com

Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing which means that your website’s mobile version is given more importance than the desktop version. If your website is still not optimized for mobile viewers, you should fix that before doing anything else.

Moreover, research shows that 73% of all users used a mobile device to search for real estate while 58% of millennial home buyers found their home on a mobile device. So, the verdict is pretty clear for real estate websites: it’s mobile or bust.

Optimize your tags and meta description

An easy fix, all you have to do is properly use state, city, and town names in your title tags, meta descriptions, and the main body.

Upgrade to HTTPS

Secure HTTPS symbol
Source: Server Fault

 

Ditch HTTP and go for HTTPS on your site. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’ because all information transferred between the browser and your site is encrypted using an SSL certificate. Google places more trust in sites with HTTPS, which helps you with rankings.

Implement Schema Markup

Use schema local markup to let search engine crawlers know exactly what they’re looking at and how to catalog all the information on your site. Schema markup refers to specific tags that “tell” Google how to display your page information on SERPs.

Real estate SEOs should also ensure that all of your listings are indexable and have an XML sitemap. This will give you an edge over your competitors who are too lazy to make sitemaps and schema work for them. The topic of schema markup is slightly long and technical. If you’re interested, here is a helpful resource from Moz to introduce you to the topic.

Add Tools Like Mortgage Calculators on Your Website

This ties in with our advice about creating helpful content. Most users who are in their early research phase will be using DIY mortgage calculators to get an idea of what’s in their range. Add this tool to your website to get these users into your funnel.

Zillow mortgage calculator
Source: Zillow

 

The best part is that you don’t have to create this tool from scratch. A number of mortgage calculator plugins are available that you can install on your website.

Optimize for Image SEO

Adding alt-text and optimizing real estate listings for image SEO increases Google Images clicks by 37%. You should make this a standard practice whenever you’re adding a new listing on your website. This tiny change could mean that your next lead, and $$$, are coming thanks to image SEO.

Fix Broken Links

Source: Varvy

 

Another best practice is to periodically audit your website for broken links. You can run it in small sprints by checking particular sections at a time. Chances are that you will find some broken links to internal listings that have been removed or to other sites that have changed the URL of the page you were linking to.

Broken links have an adverse impact on the user experience as it temporarily halts their search, and by extension, their journey down your sales funnel. You can use the free version of tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to check for broken links.

OFF-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

The third pillar of your real estate SEO strategy is off-page optimization. While there’s a limit to how much you can optimize the technical aspects and keywords on your page, off-page SEO (also called off-site SEO) gives you more room to work with.

One of the biggest focus of off-page SEO is earning backlinks. Google considers high quality backlinks as one of the best ways to assess your authority, and websites with a strong backlink profile almost always rank better. So, here’s how you can go about optimizing for off-page SEO.

How to Optimize For Off-Page Real Estate SEO

Get Your Properties Listed On Major Platforms

Zillow displaying real estate in Albuquerque, NM

Listing your real estate properties on platforms such as Zillow significantly increases their impressions (number of views). Zillow uses a massive database, smart technology, a great network of realtors, and continuous research to keep up with the market. In 2018, Zillow received a staggering 7.10 billion annual visits on their websites and apps, making it the most successful real estate marketplace in the world. You can also list your properties on other websites such as Trulia (also owned by Zillow) and Realtor.com.

Write Guest Blogs

Chart showing market share of different real estate websites.
Source: Placester

 

Identify reputable publishers within the real estate industry and contribute content to their site. Most publishers are hungry for quality content since there’s only so much their in-house team can create.

Guest blogs are a great way to earn backlinks that point back to your site. If your content is really good, you will be able to publish it on some of the biggest names in your niche and get backlinks from authoritative websites. If you’re not sure which real estate blogs to target, Hubspot has compiled an excellent list that you can check here.

However, effective link building requires a lot of resources. If all of this sounds overwhelming, you can always use the help of an experienced SEO agency to help you out.

Get Local Citations

A local citation is any mention or listing of your business on the web. Complete citations include your NAP (company name, address, and phone number). Citations are extremely important in ranking for local search results. Most citations may come with either no backlinks or no-followed links – that’s fine. If you get citations with backlinks to your site, that’s even better as it helps strengthen your overall backlink profile. You can get citations from Yelp, Yellowpages, Facebook, Instagram, Superpages, MapQuest and other places.

Earn Online Reviews

Get organic reviews on popular platforms to improve your brand image and boost your online presence. Make sure your reviews are not artificial or paid for, as this will hurt your rankings. Getting online reviews on Google Reviews, your social media pages or on Yelp is pretty easy – all you have to do is ask your clients who have had a good experience with your business. Research shows that 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience, so go get those reviews!

Things to remember

Now that you have a decent idea of what strategies to follow in order to get your real estate listings and your real estate website to the first place of Google and beyond (think featured snippets!), there are a few things you should remember so that you can gain the full benefits of real estate SEO without any of the negative effects.

  • Don’t delve into black hat SEO techniques
    However attractive they may appear, black hat techniques always end up harming your website and search rankings. Most of these techniques are old but some marketers still try to find out new ways to game the system. Given the learning speed of Google’s algorithms in light of recent updates, we wouldn’t recommend using these at all.
  • Practice patience and keep optimizing
    As stated in the beginning of this article, SEO takes time. Don’t expect your newly developed website to get to the first page of Google overnight. Good SEO takes time but the results are long-lasting. You can expect good leads for years to come.
  • Be careful with website changes
    If for some reason you are revamping your website partially or completely, make sure that your navigational framework is correct. So, whenever you move over content from your old site to your new site, set up 301 redirects to ensure that users will be taken to the new pages.

 

Start slow but finish strong!

So this concludes one of the most comprehensive real estate SEO guides that you’ll find on the internet. Keep in mind, if you choose a strategy from this article, make sure you follow through with it to the end otherwise it might not be as effective.

What Is E-A-T And Why Is It Super Important For SEO?

E-A-T has become one of the most talked-about SEO concepts today. While it has been part of Google’s guidelines since at least 2014, the search engine giant has been emphasizing it a lot more. So let’s find out what exactly is EAT, how it can impact search results, and how you can use it to create content that ranks above your competitors.

EAT  is an acronym that stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. It’s a framework described in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines that helps Google’s quality reviewers (comprised of real people, not bots) assess how helpful, or beneficial, a page is in answering a user’s query or solving their problem. Google wants to give users the most relevant results for any search query, and websites with better EAT tend to correlate with higher rankings.

Watch this quick video to learn more about EAT and how it will impact your business, marketing, and content:

 

Common EAT Myths & Misconceptions

Before we go ahead with explaining EAT, I want to clear away some misconceptions that a lot of marketers and SEOs have.

1. EAT Is Not an Algorithm

EAT is not an algorithm on its own. Google has a collection of millions of baby algorithms, which work together to rank search results for every search query.

 2. There Is No EAT Score

Google has confirmed there is no EAT score. That’s a huge misconception we’re seeing out there today. EAT isn’t scored, it is a reflection of the aggregated signals that Google captures when it crawls a page.

 

3. Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness Are Not Direct Ranking Factors


EAT is the INDIRECT result of Google’s algorithms looking for onsite and offsite signals that correlate with EAT. For example, a website with an SSL will signal more trust to Google than a website that doesn’t have an SSL. So, Google is using a variety of signals as a PROXY to tell if a site seems to have E-A-T.

Why Is EAT So Important?

In 2018, Google updated its quality rating guidelines to focus more on the beneficial purpose of the web content. Google’s reasoning was simple: marketers had been creating content with Google in mind, not the end-user. They were trying to “game” Google’s ranking algorithm instead of creating content that would actually be useful for the reader. EAT was introduced as a way to reorient the focus back to the end user.

EAT is one of the primary factors that Google uses to evaluate the quality of results. In recent years, many updates to Google’s algorithm ranking were designed to address page quality which could be correspond to higher or lower EAT. If you fail to update yourself with the latest trends, you will lose both traffic and a considerable amount of revenue due to a decline in your rankings.

Let’s Go Through Each Component Of EAT

Expertise

Expertise is defined as possessing expert skill or knowledge in a particular field. If you provide a service or sell a product that you have deep knowledge about, you may be classified as an expert. Genuine expertise is hard to fake, especially when you’re a certified professional or are regularly cited by third-parties as an expert.

It’s also compounded by the fact that Google is now favoring a new form of Authorship to identify who’s actually the author of a piece of content and whether or not they’re experts in that space. For example, if you’re in the healthcare niche, your content would be rated highly for EAT if the author is actually a certified medical professional.
If an author is regarded as a genuine and trusted professional, Google’s ranking factors will consider the website to be more trustworthy. A good way to do that is to give easy access to author information by providing a summary at the bottom of the page, and by regularly contributing to industry publications.

The Doctor Weighs In is recognized as an expert in the medical niche because its articles are frequently written by actual medical professionals. Image source: The Doctor Weighs In

 

Authority

Authoritativeness is defined as being trusted as accurate and reliable. How does Google measure that? For now, it is relying on good old fashioned backlinks and mentions which serve as “vote”  for you being an authoritative source of information for the search result. If that sounds similar to popular metrics such as Domain Authority, Domain Rating or Trust Flow, you’re absolutely right – the principle is the same.

Users not only want to trust the expertise of a website but also want to make sure that they are on the best available resource. Although expertise is a great parameter for knowledge and skill, authority takes it one step further and ranks you against other websites to evaluate whether or not you’re a cut above the rest. Once you become the de facto source of information for a particular query, you’re no longer just one of many experts. You’re the authority.

Forbes remains one of the most authoritative websites on the planet, largely due to its ability to maintain a premium brand image, high editorial standards and a relentless focus on creating top-quality content. Image source: Moz

 

Trust

Trustworthiness is the ability to be relied on as honest or truthful. Trust is easy to lose but nearly impossible to regain. That’s why Google ranks those websites higher which have proven to be trustworthy over a considerable period of time.

Now, what are the metrics Google uses to measure trust? Some of them include having a large number of positive organic (unpaid) reviews, a straightforward way to reach out to the website owners (such as an info@yourdomain.com link), having a physical location, having an ethical set of terms and conditions for your sales and making your website’s domain secure by implementing HTTPS.

Another aspect is to focus on the trustworthiness of your content. You should focus on relevant topics and give insight into the same topic through multiple angles. You will establish credibility by focusing on its detailed aspects and can link them to multiple articles with the same content.

Outstanding reviews on places like TripAdvisor help build trust for your page, which translates into greater traffic and higher likelihoods of conversions. Image source: TripAdvisor

 

A Final Word

The latest changes applied by Google to its quality rating guidelines suggest that expertise, authority, and trustworthiness play a much more crucial role in the rankings than they did before. EAT serves as a way to keep websites focused on providing authentic information and keeping irrelevant content from ranking near the top which will likely hurt user experience.

Rankings are critical for visibility, awareness, and traffic. If you have low rankings, fewer users are likely to view your content which will hit you hard on revenue generation and result in a potential loss for your business. A higher EAT is your best bet to get the kind of traffic you want, which will only happen if you’re creating content that delights your customers.

 

How to Optimize For Featured Snippets and Get to Position Zero

[This article was updated on April 27, 2020 to reflect the latest information regarding featured snippets, including Google’s January FS Update.] 

Featured snippets… You can love ‘em, you can hate ‘em, but you can’t get away from ‘em. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of featured snippets, figure out exactly what they are, and why they’ve become so important for SEOs. I’ll also give you a complete walkthrough on how you can optimize your webpages for featured snippets.

Who Should Read This Article?

  • Marketing specialists interested in optimizing their SEO for featured snippets.
  • Anyone new to the world of SEO who wants to learn more about featured snippets.
  • The 100% population of the internet that loves cat GIFs.

 

Watch Our Complete Video on Featured Snippets

 

What Is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a search answer shown at the top of a results page. It is Google’s attempt to answer your query right then and there. A featured snippet is intended to address an informational or situational need, which means that it appears on top of SERPs for answer-seeking queries.

What Was It Like Before The January 2020 Update?

Before January 22, 2020, a featured snippet looked something like this:

 

A pre-January 2020 featured snippet

Webpages with featured snippets appeared twice on Page 1, once in the FS and once as an organic result. This was also called duplication. It was beneficial for websites that were the featured snippet, as they got more SERP real estate. Because featured snippets appeared before the first organic result, they were referred to as Position Zero.

However, since January 22, 2020, that is no longer the case. If your page is appearing in the featured snippet, it won’t appear a second time in the SERP. Featured snippets now count as one of the ten web page listings shown by Google.

 

Types of Featured Snippets

Featured snippets typically come in four main formats:

Paragraph Featured Snippet

The most common form of featured snippets. Google will grab a paragraph from a page that best answers the search query and present it as a snippet.

paragraph featured snippet example

 

List Featured Snippet

These are lists that appear in numbered or bullet forms. They are more common for rankings, processes, step-by-step instructions and other form of list queries.

list featured snippet example

 

Table Featured Snippet

Table featured snippets appear less often, but when they do it’s usually for queries related to prices, rates, historical comparisons and other numerical data.

table featured snippets example

 

Video Featured Snippet

Video featured snippets appear for “How to …” questions that require a step by step process. The videos may not always start from the beginning, as Google’s algorithms might highlight a portion of the video it thinks best answers your query.

Example of a video featured snippet

 

Google also presents search answers in other formats, but they are not featured snippets:

 

People Also Ask

A list of similar queries, with an answer appearing in the drop-down. Fun fact: each answer is the featured snippet for that query.

Example of Google's People Also Ask Feature

 

Quick Answer & Tools

Quick answers provides answers to very specific queries, such as live scores, weather and time zones. Tools include dictionary, calculators, exchange rates and other conversions.

An Example of Google Quick Answers and Tools

 

Carousel

Displays several results in the form of cards, each of which is related to the original search query.

Google Carousel Example

 

Knowledge Panel

Appears as a panel on the right hand side of Page 1 and provides further information for a specific entity mentioned in the search query. Knowledge cards may include information from Google Maps, Google reviews, Wikipedia and more.

Example of Google knowledge card

 

I asked Bill Slawski of Go Fish Digital if there could be an overlap between featured snippets and knowledge panels, and this is what he had to say.

 

Why are Featured Snippets Important?

Featured snippets are appearing more and more frequently in search results. If you have the chance to appear on a featured snippet, you definitely should avail the opportunity. Failure to do so means you’re losing out on traffic, authority and maybe even customers.

Here are some reasons why featured snippets are becoming more common in search results and why you need to up your game:

1. You Get More Traffic

Yep, that’s right. Previously, if you were ranking on Position Zero, you’d be getting more traffic than the first organic search result. Studies by Ahrefs and Mangools showed that Position 0 pages always outperformed Position 1 pages.

And that holds true even after the January 2020 update. Cyrus Shepard of Moz ran a study where they opted out of featured snippets (the #1 position) for some queries for which they were ranking.

The results? Their ranking dropped to #2 or #3 AND they saw an estimated 12% drop in traffic for all affected pages after losing featured snippets (95% confidence level).

I talked to Cyrus and he said they didn’t track for differences between complete vs. “incomplete” FS. We both agreed that there’d likely be a shift in CTR between these types of featured snippets. I believe that if they had tracked for those differences, their study would have shown some really interesting results, as I suspect “incomplete” FS perform better than their “complete” counterparts.

So the verdict is pretty clear: if you’re serious about getting high quality traffic and beat the competition, you need to beat them in the rankings.

2. Voice searches

Voice searches are the future. Camscore estimates that by the end of 2020, 50% of searches will be voice based, thanks to improvements in mobile AI to better understand our speech patterns (think OK Google or Hey Siri), while sales for voice-based smart speakers like Amazon Echo & Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod show no signs of slowing down.

As voice searches tend to be longer, more natural sounding and almost always in the form of a question, the chances of a featured snippet appearing as an answer is much higher.

3. Builds Authority

Ask yourself, how many times do you even bother going to Page 2 of Google?

Users trust Google to provide them with the most relevant results and consider the top results as far more authoritative and relevant than those lower down on Page 1 or **shudders** on Page 2 or 3.

If you can provide useful content to people the first time, you increase the likelihood of them coming to you a second time. By ranking for a featured snippet, not only are you attracting more views and traffic to your content, you’re also building authority for your brand.

How to Optimize Your Blog Post For Featured Snippets

1. Are You Already Ranking On Page 1?

If you’ve been creating quality content for some time and know how to optimize it, chances are you’re ranking on Page 1 of Google. And if your content is really good, you just might be occupying a place in Positions 2 to 5.

Because you’ve already done the difficult work of reaching the first page, you are in prime position to get a featured snippet. In fact, the higher you’re already ranking on page one (between Positions 2 and 5), the better your chances.

By simply optimizing the code for your page and improving the structure of your content, you can easily jump to a featured snippet in a matter of weeks. Hubspot did it to capture multiple new FS spots where they had previously been ranking in Positions 2 to 5 (but not for a FS).

Keep reading to figure out how optimize your code and get featured.

2. Clean Up Your Code

By cleaning up your HTML, you make it easier for Google to crawl through your page and help it capture information you want to display in snippets. You don’ want to confuse Google about the topic of your content, nor do you want to display your content in a way that’s distracting for users.

A poorly optimized featured snippet
Do you really feel like clicking on this snippet?

 

How do you clean up your code?

The short answer: H2, H3, <p>, <ol> and <ul>.

3. Use H2 & Paragraphs <p>

 

An optimized paragraph snippet.
An optimized paragraph snippet.

 

Google see H1 as the main title of your content and H2 as the heading for individual sections within the page. If you want to appear in paragraph featured snippets, then you should use the following format.

<h2>SNIPPET QUERY </h2>

<p>PARAGRAPH SNIPPET</p>

Your H2 should ideally include keywords from the search query. Since voice based search queries are becoming more common and are structured as complete questions, you can also frame your H2 as a question and the paragraph snippet as the answer for your readers.

4. Use H2 and Ordered Lists <ol>

 

An optimized list snippet.
An optimized list snippet.

 

Did I tell you Google loves list? If you want to score a featured snippet for search queries about processes, lists, orders, and step-by-step guides, you need to structure your content for ordered lists.

Google will pull H2s as the snippet title and H3s as the list items in the snippet. Bullet points, or unordered lists, are useful in cases where the order is not important.

Here’s what the code for your list snippet should look like:

<h2>SNIPPET QUERY</h2>

<ol>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

</ol>

 

Use these techniques every time you are aiming to capture a featured snippet. Not only would the content look better to readers, but it would also become more optimized for search crawlers.

5. Use Keyword Research To Find Snippet Opportunities

If you’re looking for new topics to write about and get featured, you need to start off with an effective game plan. Your first step should be keyword research as it gives you a lay of the land and really sets you up for success.

Snippet rich search queries are often framed as questions: who, why, when, what, how. With proper research, not only do you learn what people are searching for, but you also get to see what’s currently ranking on top.

All you have to do is figure out what exactly what type of content your audience wants and answer their queries.

 

6. Here’s Where To Find Snippet Opportunities

The best places to find the hottest search items include:

SEMRush

Screenshot of SEMRush's Dashboard

With SEMRush, you get to see the different combination of search queries for a particular keyword ranked according to the total number of monthly searches. This helps you identify the most popular keywords you can try to rank for and give the competition a run for their money.

SEMRush also helps you track featured snippets you’ve already won and highlights other keyword opportunities where you can earn snippets.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public Example
All the combination of queries you get just by typing “dog food” on Answer The Public.

 

A free tool that creates multiple offshoots of a keyword, Answer The Public is a great place to start brainstorming for keyword ideas. Simply enter a keyword, get dozens of query options, plug them in to SEMRush or any other tool you’re using, and find out what’s the best search query for you to rank for.

People Also Ask

Google's People Also Ask Feature

Google can also be a great place to find out what information the public’s after. Simply check out the “People Also Ask” section in a search result to see what other related questions people have been asking and decide whether you want to try ranking for it or not.

Apart from People Also Ask, Google’s search bar itself gives you a fair bit of an idea of what people are searching about. You might find it mildly annoying (I do, sometimes), but Google’s attempt to finish your sentence just might open up a whole new ranking opportunity for your brand.

 

7. Write Quality Content

At the end of the day, nothing beats quality content. You can try optimizing a poorly written article all you want, but all you’re going to get is a high bounce rate and low rankings.

Create content that people actually want to read, provide value so that your content is worth their time, and write it so well that it keeps your readers hooked till the end.

How the Inverted Pyramid Works
Source: Wikipedia

 

One technique you can use is the Inverted Pyramid. Commonly used in journalism, this technique structures your content by giving the conclusion (the most awaited part) first, and then delivers details which support that conclusion. If written well, your “conclusion” could be the paragraph snippet you’ve always wanted to get featured!

 

8. Take Care Of Your Word Count

According to SEMrush, most featured snippets have a length of 40-50 words, while Hubspot gives the cutoff point of up to 58 words.

Check out this snippet about U.S. President Woodrow Wilson that’s really pushing the limits at 51 words.

Google search of who was woodrow wilson

A Quick Recap on How to Optimize for Featured Snippets

Now you know what are featured snippets, why are they becoming more important and what you can do to optimize your page for featured snippets:

  • Identify your low hanging fruits
  • Optimize your code better than the competition
  • Know when and where to use H2, H3, p, ol & ul for snippets
  • Keep searching for new snippet opportunities
  • Create valuable content
  • Take care of your snippet word count

 

Getting a featured snippet is not impossible. Once you start using these tips, you’ll see the difference yourself. Who knows, this time it might be you who’s ranking on top.