How a Solar Company Can Rank at 1st Page of Google using SEO?

Before making any significant purchase decision, the average consumers have been known to “Google” their options. This trend is not going anywhere, and your business should be among the top results should anyone search for solar installation services in your city. Doing nothing to rank on the first page is the equivalence of accepting defeat to your competitors.

You can rank on the first page of local searches made by “ready-to-buy” customers through a process termed Local SEO.

Let’s look at what Local SEO means in the context of a solar installation company and how you can rank on the very first page on Google.

What is Local SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results when internet users are searching for anything related to your services or products. Local SEO  then refers to the optimization of your website so as to attract more local customers pool in and around the location in which your business is operating.

Local seo example

The internet, by design, opens up the entire world of potential customers for your solar installation business. This is good, but when you consider several factors including that people in your city are perhaps the easiest to convert into paying customers for your energy setup, you’d want to rank locally first.

The internet, by design, opens up the entire world of potential customers for your solar installation business. This is good, but when you consider several factors including that people in your city are perhaps the easiest to convert into paying customers for your energy setup, you’d want to rank locally first.

Local SEO for Solar Companies?

Knowing is the first step, and now that we’ve established just what we need to achieve and that Local SEO is the way forward, we should take you through getting it done. While you could Google your way around each step until you have done this on your own for your business, it is best practice to have a professional SEO practitioner take care of it. However, in this article, I’m assuming you don’t have the budget and you decide to do it yourself. So we’re only going to talk about basic SEO that has the biggest ROI.

Here’re the steps:

  1. Basic on-site SEO
  2. Google My Business: Verify your listing on Google Map
  3. Local citation
  4. Content creation & blog topics
  5. Link building

Ready? Let’s dive in.

1. Basic on-site SEO

Technically speaking, before onsite SEO you need to do Keyword Research first. But since we’re talking about “bare-bone” basics, I’m going to assume that you’re trying to rank for keywords like:

  • “Solar installation + [your city]”
  • “Solar company + [your city]”
  • “Solar project installation + [your city]”

Your website is the center of attention when talking about SEO. Anyone that discovers you through Google will ideally have to be directed to your website. On your website, your homepage is usually by far the most important one where you’ll need to have clear metadata for the search engines, that’s where you can start with.

[Screenshot from Willie: metadata in search result]

The meta title (SEO title) is what search results display. Usability comes to mind, since relevancy to a prospect’s search queries is the name of the game, you must make good titles that meet a searcher’s need. They should be relevant, including the keyword (which may be the product or service) along with a solution to why someone is searching for information around your service in the first place.

That as the title would tell the reader exactly what they’re going to read if they click and follow to the linked website. Each page you create should also have a good title along with relevant information in your meta description. Since most people build their website with WordPress,  we use WordPress’s backend to show you how basic SEO should be done. Even if your website isn’t built with WordPress, simply Google “ [your platform] + Metadata“ such as “Squarespace + Metadata”, or “Wix + Metadata”, you will get good articles (video is better) on how to do it yourself.

Other On-site SEO Tasks That a Non-technical Person Can Do:

  • Compress your images – Images are part of the content that loads when your website loads. How fast your website affects the way people behave in the first few seconds. Remember that you are among a dozen other companies that a visitor will look at during their hunt for services. Slow websites will conversion! As such, each image should be less than 100Kb. There are WordPress plugins such as Smush that can optimize image size while upholding quality. There are also some online tools such as ResizeImage.net if you don’t use Photoshop.
  • Building internal links: Internal links are links to pages that are on the same website which means visitors following these links stay longer on your website. There are various reasons why this is good for your overall ranking. To make it short, internal links make it easier for a reader to navigate your website to read more elaborate on-site articles. The more internal links a page has, the more search engine’s algorithms think that page is important.
  • Include keywords In headings: In addition to the title of a page, Google also considers the headings’ wording within the body when evaluating how relevant a page is to search queries. This means incorporating keywords (or synonyms) in the heading also helps your ranking. It applies to all types of pages including “money pages” and onsite blog.
    [Screenshot from Willie]
  • Keywords in image’s Alt tag: Each image uploaded onto your website should be properly described in the Alt tag, ideally including keywords because Google algorithm doesn’t read images well, yet. A good rule of thumb is to imagine telling someone over a voice call what an image is all about. It is as simple as locating the Alt-space when you are editing an image in WordPress, and stating what the image displays.

[Screenshot from Willie]

2. Google My Business: Verify your listing on Google Map

Notice how each time you search for services on Google, a list of companies registered as service providers appear on the first page with their information provided for your convenience? You know how much business information on Google Maps has made our lives easier.  What you probably do not realize is that a verified and informative listing on Google Maps helps Google to understand your business better.

Once you’re verified, you’ll have access to a Google My Business account to edit your listing. It’s important to have as much information and images as you can collect about your business. So, please try your best to fill up all the fields.

Additionally, you need to encourage your customers to review your services. Search Engine Land has a great post to prove that the number of reviews does impact your ranking.

3. Setting Up Local Citations

“What is a local citation?” you might ask.

Well, Moz defines a local citation as “any online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. Citations can occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social platforms”.

“Why is local citation important for local SEO?”

Simply put, it affects your Google ranking because search engines validate your business information on these platforms. Search engines trust increases when they recognize you like the same company across all the places that have your information. Also, it impacts the customer’s purchase decision. When well-put together, a reader should be able to see your listing everywhere when they Google your brand.

“How to do local citation exactly?”.

The easiest way to do local citation to simply use Moz Local and follow its steps. It only costs $99/year and you probably only need one of subscription.

By far, consistency is the most important thing when doing local citation on different platforms. Typical information that you’d need to provide when making a local citation include;

  • Registered Company Name
  • All your contact details
  • A link to your website
  • Your Location coordinates
  • Clear Images and videos of your business and products/services
  • Links to your social media accounts
  • Hours of operations
  • Alternate contact information (for off-work contact)
  • Taglines
  • Attributes (much like metadata)

With time, and with more customers interacting with your listings, reviews will prove your existence along with the capacity to serve clients. To these, you’ll have to add some responses addressing concerns commented on by visitors. With the number of people looking for reviews of services before they make a purchase, it is good to see that you are responsive and willing to make every customer happy. The same applies to your presence as a registered business on Google’s listings.

4. Create Local Content for Solar Energy Services

This is my favorite part because this is where SEO marries content marketing.

First of all, when it comes to SEO, “content” usually refers to blog posts (aka. on-site articles). Luckily, most of the solar businesses I come across actually write blog posts. Unlikely, only a few are doing it right.

You’re doing it wrong, seriously!

The sad reality is that the majority of solar business has been doing writing the wrong way in many aspects:

  • Not strategic about their topics: Here’s what they usually blog about: Corporate news: seriously, no customers care about your interview on local newspapers (it does increase your credibility, this type of content should be placed under the “About us” section of your website); Job postings: they shouldn’t get mixed with your blog; Industry news: In most of the cases, that’s what your competitors love to read, not your customers.
  • Not understanding its context: They don’t ask themselves: On what context are our reader reading this post? They don’t realize the huge differences between the search engine and social platform’s context. To elaborate, readers on the social media platform are usually impatient and don’t really prefer text content; On the other hand, readers from search engines are trying to solve problems so they are actively looking for well put together, thoroughly explained articles. The implication is that you should produce images and videos for social platforms and long-form articles for search engines if you’re serious about growing your website traffic effectively.  
  • Spreading themselves too thin: they want the so-called “omnichannel” approach but they usually don’t enough budget or manpower. So what do they do? They produce 600-word-articles and post them everywhere. Then they claim “We’re doing social media marketing” and “Blogging doesn’t bring in business”.

Do you know that people are looking for answers to their questions, not looking for someone who has the best punchline and flashiest banners?

How to “marry” content marketing and local SEO?

A well-planned strategy is essential if want content marketing to generate solar leads for you. You should look to address issues that bring people to searching for your products and services in your immediate location. Remember, it’s NOT about you! It’s about answering your potential customers’ questions and addressing their concerns.

What topics should solar companies write about?

Common questions and concerns might vary among your solar buyer personas. For example, residential solar customers’ questions are obviously very different from C&I solar customers’. I’ve done some research, these are the topics that are likely to generate high quality leads for you.   

How much do XXX cost?

A reasonable modern-day shopper will google this before buying almost anything. If you’re not the one to provide authentic answers related to costs, someone else will. This is also the best place to educate them: the cheapest is usually not the best.

Topic examples:

  • Cost of Solar Panel Installation in [Your city]
  • Cost of Solar power battery/storage in [Your city]

A list of solar…

People love to know all the available options. Most content around this often presents itself as a sales pitch, however, stick to solving the problem and let the customer journey happen with your words nurturing, not hard selling.

Topic examples:

  • 7 solar rebates & energy efficiency incentives in [Your state/province]
  • 5 options to finance your solar projects in [Your state/province]

Potential problems/risks of ….

Some installers think that writing about potential risks is shooting themselves in the foot. I beg to differ. I think informing your clients about potential problems makes them see you as honest and authentic. Remember, if they don’t find their answers on your website, they will find out somewhere else when everything is literally a Google away. It’s better that YOU are helping them make informed decisions rather than your competitors.

Topic examples:

  • Pro and con of solar projects in [Your state/province]
  • Potential risks of rooftop solar & how to avoid them?

Comparisons: ABC vs. XYZ

It seems that comparing is one of human nature. So for most industries, “ABC vs. XYZ ” type of content seems to work well. You can also lead your customers towards your services using list articles.

Topic examples:

  • Comparison: Leasing vs. owning solar panels in [Your state/province]
  • Comparison: Rooftop solar vs. community solar in [Your state/province]
  • An in-depth comparison:Mono- vs Poly solar panels

Solar project case study

A lot of commercial solar customers think their situations are unique so they love reading some cases that are similar to theirs. The case study content is also a great place to show off your experiences and expertise.

Topic examples:

  • [Your state/province] Hospital solar project case study
  • University solar project case study
  • [Your state/province] Warehouse rooftop solar project case study

To summarize:

These are educational content that often suggests solutions to problems commonly faced by your solar customers. Another great source of relevant topics would be your sales team.

A solar buyer personas worksheet
This worksheet will help you better address solar buyer’s resistant points at different stages. It also helps you “collect” blog topics from your sales team.

But if you want to come up with topics more systematically, I suggest you start with building your solar buyer personas.

Also, content length is often directly proportional to the depth of the solutions provided. This is why the longer content around a topic almost always appears higher than those 600-word articles.

5. Doable Link Building Strategies For Local SEO

Link building is probably the hardest part if you’re DIYing SEO.

After you’ve done some on-site SEO by following my advice above, your website’s relevancy has increased greatly. But when looking at how “important” a website is, Google also considers how many other trustworthy websites link back to it. The most realistic ways for an SEO newbie would be:  

  • Your friends’ websites;
  • The local chamber of commerce that you’re in;
  • Your clients: If you’re a C&I solar installer, you can take advantage of the fact that most of your clients probably have a website, and have your business logo and follow-link placed on theirs, and vice-versa;

Link building is an ongoing exercise that should be combined with content creation on a regular basis covering issues that your readers want to learn about. The good news is that not a big percentage of solar installers take SEO seriously in most the cities as far I can see. That means you most likely don’t need many backlinks to rank at 1st page of Google anyway.

How Long Does it Take To Rank On First Page?

I know you’re going to hate my answer. Just like when your potential customers ask you, how much electricity can their solar panels generate, you would tell them “It depends on many factors.” I’m going to give you a rough timeline based on years of experience:

  • In 2nd-3rd months: you would see your homepage’s ranking jumps if follow my advice to put the keyword “Solar Installation company in [your city]” in the page title and metadata;
  • In 3rd-4th months: you would see your organic traffic grows steadily if you write about the topics I suggested and make each of them 1200-1800words/article;
  • In 4th-8th months: you would see the impact of local citation and backlinks;

To expect same day results when publishing content for search engine ranking purposes is a sure way to get frustrated. You simply need to be patient with SEO.

Overview: The ROI of SEO

Every step and effort invested in doing SEO the right thing always pays off. An optimized website, with well-planned content and enough of all the suggested ingredients, will start getting you inquiries from customers who are already convinced that yours is the best company for the job.

What you do with the thousands of visitors that come to your website due to a good SEO strategy is totally up to you. Building a simple email list could have you working with a set of return customers who actually suggest your business to their families. How much would you pay for (effort and attention) if how much you put in directly affected how much you get in the long run.

Also to note is that while you still can have your hands deep in all these tasks, you probably have better things you’d rather be focusing on to improve your business. It is always wise to let an SEO agency handle all this.


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Willie Jiang

Willie Jiang is an experienced SEO manager with a demonstrated history of success with content marketing. He's passionate about popularizing content marketing in the solar industry.

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