Landing a website on the first page of Google’s search engine results should be an integral part of any digital solar marketing strategy. In Part 1 of this two-part article we looked at factors to consider when choosing keywords to rank for when optimizing a site for a search engine. In this second part, we address specific techniques to employ when integrating those keywords into a solar site.
Effectively incorporating website keywords
Companies will want to include a main keyword and at least one secondary keyword to include throughout the front (the parts the reader sees) and back ends (hidden from the reader) of the page or post. Depending on the page content, a main keyword might be something like “solar carport” or “solar funding” and the secondary phrase might be “solar panel canopy” or “solar energy grants.”
For a short to average length article (500-1000 words), include them between four and six times throughout the page or article in a way that flows naturally with the body content in the title, headline, subheadings and paragraphs. Avoid stuffing a whole lot of these on a page or post—readers and search engines can easily identify this and it will hurt ranking. For the back end of a page, discussed below as the site support structure, look to sprinkle in the keywords three to four times. For pages with longer text (1400+ words) choose more than two keywords and try building sections around keyword groupings.
Additional SEO best practices include using the main keyword in the first 150 words of the text, adding synonyms for keywords (Google has tech that works like a thesaurus) and placing a strong high-volume phrase within the first 60 characters of the title.
Another tactic in your solar marketing arsenal is to try to rank for a featured snippet in Google—the boxed information that often appears at the very top of the first page of a Google search result. Snippets are twice as likely to be clicked over the first position on a search engine results page (SERP).
Featured snippets are commonly shown for long-tail question keywords, or preposition or comparison search terms. There are a number of tactics an installer can use to attempt to rank for this using questions and prepositions, keeping paragraphs short (40 to 60 words) or structuring information as a list. Additionally, since Google tries to show the best possible answer, focus on creating content that is better than the existing snippet for a search phrase you are targeting.
Optimizing the site support structure
Beyond following best practices for incorporating the target keywords for the front end of the site, there are a number of techniques that can ensure that the structure of a website helps with SEO when building a solar marketing campaign.
- URLs: Make a URL (the page address) less than 90 characters, skip connectors like “and,” include keywords if possible and use dashes to separate words. Where relevant, including a target keyword here as well can be helpful.
- Metadata: This is information that makes a web page scan-able for the reader and is very important for helping a search engine find and rank it. It is what appears on a SERP and includes the page title and meta description, or summary of the page’s content. Try to include keywords in the title if they’re also included in the body content of the page. Definitely include a high-volume keyword in the meta description and craft it to be like a short, catchy advertisement for that page’s value.
- Visual media: Include high-quality, content-related images, pictures, videos and GIFs. Use keywords in the image file name and for the alt tags (brief description of the image) when the medium relates to the keywords. Most hosting platforms allow for customizing the alt tags for visual media and it is important to take advantage of this opportunity to inform Google of what the image is and use it to index and rank the page.
- Usability: Make sure loading time is fast (no more than four seconds) by using a content delivery network (CDN), compressing image files and choosing a top-quality hosting service. Make it mobile device responsive and make sure to have social buttons on every page.
Tools that help optimize
If a site is using WordPress, there are some terrific plugins that facilitate the optimization process, particularly as it relates to the site support structure. Often, they’re designed to provide a template that is applied to each page or post of the site that acts like a checklist and grading tool to make sure the page or post is fully optimized. Popular plugins include Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack.
SEO practices for different parts of the website
The home page
Prime real estate for driving traffic is the home page, so an installer should apply SEO strategies here. The most recent opinion is that rather than focusing on a single branded keyword, it’s best to work to rank for several important keywords to convey the fundamental theme of the site and the key product offerings.
There are a number of other factors to consider that are related to the user experience. These include focusing the title, using attention-getting calls-to-action (CTAs), and employing judicious placement of links and social buttons. The structure of the homepage is also important: use a layout that allows for simple, clear navigation so that the major sections of the page are easy to find.
As we’ll discuss in greater depth in a future article, having a company blog can be a great way to improve your SERP ranking and build trust with potential customers. If you have a blog, remember that each post is a fresh opportunity to use keywords and content to drive traffic. In addition to incorporating keywords as discussed above, using links in places where it makes sense can help your SEO. Links help Google understand the topic, recognize the site as high-quality for readers and assess reader engagement. Include both external links to other reputable websites (for instance, when citing a statistic) and internal links to other content on the company’s website. Additionally, as you produce quality articles, over time others may link to your site as a resource. These backlinks will also help your site rank higher in search results by indicating to Google that your site is credible.
Building a solar marketing plan that includes search engine optimization can enable a website to perform at its maximum level of effectiveness. These two articles addressed the two factors so vital to achieving this: choosing the right keywords and using them wisely. Considering the competitive and ever-changing nature of the U.S. solar market, making a solar site as visible and accessible as possible can help fuel a company’s success and growth for years to come.
About Aurora’s digital solar marketing series
This article is part of an ongoing series from Aurora Solar, providing a guide for solar companies to develop a cohesive digital solar marketing strategy to connect with more customers. We explain the value offered by different digital marketing options and highlight concrete strategies to make the most of each.
Part 1 (Intro): Five ways digital solar marketing can grow your business
Part 4: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for solar contractors: Best practices