Jargon and technical terms are a part of everyday life in the home performance, solar and HVAC industries.
See? I’ve already used an acronym that my own mother didn’t know when I brought it up at the Thanksgiving dinner table. If you’re a heating and air conditioning contractor, “HVAC” may be how you describe the scope of your services; but we have the search data to show that there is still plenty of ignorance when it comes to these kinds of industry terms. So when your customers are searching for solutions, are you speaking the same language?
When it comes to optimizing your website for search engine results, knowing what your potential customers are actually searching for is pivotal. You could spend countless hours and resources optimizing the pages of your site for ductless mini splits, but if the search volume in your service area leans more towards the term “heat pumps,” all that work may not yield the results you’re looking for.
Are you confident that your customers know that HVAC includes “air conditioning” when they are searching for air conditioning repair? And within that, which is more popular: “repair” or “service”?
We did some research on six of the top industry “geek” terms and their related search terms to see how they stacked up: HVAC, mini split, energy audit, crawl space encapsulation, building envelope, and solar PV.
Here’s what we found, assessing the average monthly search volume over the last 12 months.
Right off the top, two of the three most popular searches are industry searches. Your customers are not searching for “HVAC supply,” “HVAC supply near me,” “HVAC salary,” etc. Plus, there is a combined search volume of 26,100 looking for the meaning of the acronym. The two most useful terms here are “HVAC repair” and “HVAC contractor.”
The Takeaway:The term “HVAC” should still appear in your content, and “HVAC repair” is going to reach more searchers than “service” or “maintenance” (even if you do both).
We decided to get a little more granular and take a look at “furnace repair” as well. (We stayed away from the term “heating” because it yielded too many searches related to the Miami Heat NBA team.)
Already, the term “furnace repair” is getting nearly double the search volume across the country of “HVAC repair.” The specificity of this term, and the fact that there are not any “furnace definition” searches showing up like in the HVAC research means that these searches are more likely to be coming from potential customers.
The Takeaway:Repair is still clearly more searched than “service,” and using the word “furnace” instead of “heater” or “HVAC” is a much more targeted approach. Of course, seasonality should always be considered as well!
Of any single service or repair that we researched, “air conditioning repair” has the highest search volume by far. (Keep in mind here that there is a large number of searchers looking for automotive air conditioning looped into that top result, as the next four results indicate.)
The Takeaway:Keep an eye on the traffic and bounce rate of your air conditioning repair pages. Don’t be too discouraged if the traffic is high and conversions are low; you could be getting some poor traffic from folks who just want a cooler drive to work.
We see contractors using a wide variety of terms for mini-splits: ductless mini splits, ductless heat pumps, mini split heat pumps, etc. The data here shows that web users use a similar variety of terms to refer to mini splits. Two particular keywords to pay attention to here are “mini split AC” and “mini split air conditioner.” The fact that these terms have such high search volume indicates that many homeowners still assume that mini splits are exclusively for cooling.
The Takeaway:It’s important to catch the variety of terms that people are using to refer to mini splits in your own content — while making it clear many of these terms refer to the same thing. There is also an opportunity here to educate visitors to your site about the versatility of mini splits as both a heating and cooling option.
Note here that the term “heat pump” is also very popular (though obviously that term also includes ducted heat pump systems.) “Ductless heat pump” has a relatively high search volume at 6,600. Clearly, people use a number of terms to refer to mini splits.
The Takeaway:Again, be inclusive with your content terms in order to reach target customers regardless of how they refer to mini splits.
Overall, search volume for energy audits across the U.S. is relatively low. Search volume for terms like “energy assessment” and “blower door test” is even lower.
The Takeaway: Clearly energy audits are more of a niche service that many home and building owners do not yet realize they need. This is your opportunity to educate and tie the benefits of an energy audit to things people are searching for more often, like “furnace repair” or “window replacement.”
In addition, since “energy audit” a more popular term than terms like “energy assessment” or “home assessment,” it’s important to include this term in your content — even if you brand your energy audits as “energy assessments” or “healthy home assessments.”
“Crawl space encapsulation” is also not heavily searched — so clearly this isn’t as well known a service. It can be assumed that searchers are looking more for the problem than the answer, i.e. “how to fix cold floors.”
We noticed in our research that “crawl space vapor barrier” and “crawl space insulation” both have more search volume than “crawl space encapsulation” does, so it’s a good idea to include those terms in your content about crawl space encapsulation.
The Takeaway: Frame your crawl space encapsulation as the solution to a problem, instead of just a standalone service. This is another opportunity for education.
Should you say “solar PV system,” “solar electric system,” or just “solar panels”?
This is another textbook example of industry jargon vs. a real world term. Solar PV is commonly used within the solar industry, but across the board, this is not a term that is widely used or searched for by those looking for solar installation.
The term “solar panels” is a broader term, so not all of the 165,000 searchers are looking specifically for installation. But when you compare search volume for “solar panel cost” (27,100) to “solar PV system cost” (480), it is clear that “solar panel” is more widely used by those looking to purchase a solar electric system. Note how “solar panels for home” also has a high search volume (14,800).
When we researched the keyword “solar installation” to see what customers were placing in between the words “solar” and “installation,” “solar panel installation” by far the most popular search term.
The Takeaway: If you want to attract new leads as a solar PV installer, be sure to use more popular terms like “solar panels” in your content.
Keyword research is essential if you want to optimize your content and make it more discoverable by potential customers. This research can tell you what your target customers are actually searching for and what “language” they speak. It can also tell you which keywords to include in your content to make it more comprehensive in the eyes of search engines. As you research keywords within your industry, don’t forget to get specific with your particular region so you can increase your local rankings.
But remember — this isn’t just about SEO and boosting rankings. Understanding the language of your customers will make your content more accessible and you more approachable as a company. With your content, you can bridge the gap between you and your customers. Language matters, and though using the correct terminology is important, it is imperative that you meet your customers where they are.