Why Some HVAC Sites Outrank Others

Posted on: December 17th, 2012

Have you ever wondered why certain competitor websites are outranking yours on Google? How search engines determine which websites rank where is a complete mystery to most people. And while no one (including us) knows exactly how each search engine works, we can find some clues and answers using data.

Here are some basic requirements for having a high ranking HVAC / plumbing website:

Code and Site Structure

Google and the rest of the search engines use software to “crawl” the web, scan the content of trillions of web pages, and organize and rank that content based on relevance and authority. Your website has zero chance of being ranked organically if the search engines have a difficult time crawling your site’s code (of course, this assumes the search engine can find your site in the first place – typically as a link from another popular site already in their index).

Take a look at this:

Example of a poorly coded website

Example of a poorly coded website

What you’re looking at in this screenshot is a website where virtually all of the text-based content has been coded as an image file. A human visitor sees the website normally (the way it displays on the left) – with all the words, images, etc. Search engines cannot interpret the words inside an image file, so when Google crawls the site, it would see something closer to the image on the right – a site with practically no content.

Google uses the words on your website to determine your site’s relevance. If you are only giving Google a dozen words to use, it’s going to be very difficult for your site to be more relevant than a competitor that is offering far more information.

During the process of testing our software, we’ve crawled and analyzed over 2,000 HVAC and plumbing websites. The top 10 highest scoring websites had, on average, 963.5 words per page.  Compare this to the 100 lowest scoring websites, which had, on average, just 198.32 words per page, and you start to get the sense that search engines needs a healthy amount of content on each page of your website in order to properly assess your site’s relevance.

Note: all versions of our SEO software allow you to see how many words per page your site has.

Content

While we’re hardly the first SEO company to say this, it’s worth repeating – Google doesn’t rank websites. Google ranks web PAGES. High ranking websites tend to have far more web pages than websites with less organic visibility. Of the thousands of HVAC and plumbing websites we crawled and analyzed, the top five highest scoring sites had, on average, 210 web pages. Compare this to the 100 lowest ranking websites which had, on average, 3.42 web pages.

If you want to improve your website’s organic visibility and get more HVAC / plumbing web leads, you must create more web pages.

Note: all versions of our SEO software allow you to see how many web pages you have compared to your competitors.

Website Authority

Google and the rest of the search engines want to match searchers (people) with the most relevant website given their search query. But which site does Google rank first when it finds dozens of websites with similar levels of relevance? When multiple sites are perceived as relevant, the organic ranking tie-breaker is authority. Of all the most relevant websites, which site has the most authority and credibility? More often than not, this site will be the top ranking organic site.

One of the ways we think Google (and the rest of the search engines) determine authority is by examining the number (and quality) of links a website has. Of the websites we crawled and analyzed, the top five highest scoring sites had, on average, 1,947.6 backlinks. Compare this to the 100 lowest ranking websites which had, on average, 2.59 backlinks.

Although we don’t think the search engines use social media data yet, we do think it will be a ranking signal in the future. Of the websites we crawled and analyzed, the top five highest scoring sites had, on average, five Facebook “Likes.” Compare this to the 100 lowest ranking websites which had, on average, .08 Facebook “Likes.”

Note: all versions of our SEO software allow you to see how many backlinks your website has compared to your competitors. The Professional edition offers Social Media Metrics like Facebook Likes and Shares.

Conclusion

Although no one knows exactly how Google determines the order of the organic search results, we can get some clues by examining data from top ranking websites. Websites that rank well organically are coded in a way that makes it easy for Google and the rest of the search engines to find and crawl their content. Compared to lower ranking websites, they have lots of relevant content, web pages, and backlinks. High ranking websites also tend to be more active on social media websites like Facebook.

Sign up for an account today and see how your website compares to the rest of the websites we’ve analyzed!