The Rise of the Question-Based World
If you watched the Super Bowl last month (or more importantly, the Super Bowl commercials) then you know that voice activated home devices have found their way into the crosshairs of pop culture. I mean, Han Solo himself did a commercial for Amazon’s Alexa — so I think it is safe to say that voice activated home devices are going to stick around.
Devices like the Google Home, Amazon Echo and the Apple HomePod are connecting the home by incorporating smart thermostat technology, security cameras, smart light bulbs and much more. But the integration of voice activated “assistants” like Siri and Alexa are changing the way that people look for information, one question at a time. So what does this mean for how you market your HVAC, home performance or solar business to those who are asking for your services online?
Voice Searches Are Up — WAY Up
For those of you who caught last week’s webinar on the rise of question based search, you may have seen this staggering stat:
Voice Search Queries are up 35X since 2008, 7X since 2010
So, what are the implications for HVAC, home performance and solar? It means that consumers are not only asking questions to search engines using their voices (“Alexa, where can I find a furnace repair technician?”) but also transferring these long form questions into how they type in a search field for more tailored results (“find furnace repair near me”).
It also means that while search engine results were once only ever served up on SERPs on desktop or mobile, they are now also being served up via a voice response. (The latter scenario, however, still remains much less common in the world of service searches. We are watching that trend closely.)
Long Tail Searches
What is long tail search? Long tail searches are any search query more than 3 words. According to the search experts at Moz, long tail searches (i.e., question based searches) make up an undeniable 70% of all searches.
How Google Is Embracing Question Based Search
We know that Google is paying attention, because they have incorporated a coveted “answer snippet box” into SERPs. When a searcher asks a question and Google can find what it thinks is a verified answer, this snippet box will provide the answer without the searcher having to leave the results page:
Finding the Right Questions to Answer
Most questions will fall into what we call the Big 7 for most contracting businesses, as follows:
Do you have the services I need?
Do you serve my area?
When are you available?
How much does it cost?
Are you a good company? (This question comes in many forms.)
What is the first step towards engaging you?
After I hire you, what is the process?
From there, you can get more specific based on the service or product, and put yourself in the shoes of the homeowner or user. Why do I need an energy audit? What will I get from battery storage? Are there any risks involved in having my ductwork re-designed?
Other Ways to Address a Question Based Internet
Your website should reflect the question based nature of your potential customer as well. Here are a few optimizations you can make to your current digital channels:
Google My Business
We’ve said it week after week, you can ask and answer your own GMB questions! This is not considered a spammy practice and can help lead your customers in the right direction, potentially asking a question they didn’t know they had.
Direct confused visitors on your site to your FAQ section with language like “Still have questions? Maybe we’ve already answered them in our frequently asked questions.” Take inventory of your top seven to ten questions and answer them. This is also a great way to communicate to your team how to answer these common questions in a way that is true to your brand.
Another buzz-worthy topic this year for HVAC, home performance and solar websites has been live chat. Using some live chat software on your site, you can tailor the questions that pop up based on the URL visited. If a customer is looking at mini splits, you can show the three most common mini split questions. Live chat software allows you to customize the common questions for confused visitors who may not know how to ask the right questions.
You can catch up on our recommendations for preparing for live chat in our webinar.
Welcome Siri to Your Sales Team
Consumers in your service area are asking, so make sure you are ready to answer. Optimizing your HVAC, home performance or solar website for the growing question based world will ensure you are there to answer the questions your customers are asking. Even if it doesn’t lead to conversion right away, it is important to show your authority on the topic so that you are top of mind as soon as someone is in desperate need of your service.