From Invisible to Unstoppable in 30 Days: The Lightning-Fast HVAC Map Pack Ranking Case Study
We transformed the online presence of an HVAC company to achieve skyrocketing Map Pack rankings in just 1 month. We’ll take you behind the scenes and outline the strategy we implemented to take them from nearly invisible to securing the top 3 positions for their target keywords.
You’ll get an inside look at our innovative approach that combines semantic SEO and strategic link building to create an authoritative local footprint. We’ll share before and after analysis to showcase the dramatic turnaround as well as practical tips you can implement yourself.
By the end, you’ll have a clear roadmap for dominating the Map Pack and attracting more local customers to your HVAC business.
The Client’s Starting Point
In November 2023, we took a look at where this HVAC company ranked in the map pack across their service area. The results were underwhelming, to say the least. They had very little presence, only ranking in the map pack for queries near their physical location.
Here is a screenshot showing their map pack visibility on November 3rd, 2023:
As you can see, they are basically nowhere to be found across their city except for rankings near their actual location. This is a common issue we see with local businesses who haven’t focused on optimizing their online presence – they get some minimal visibility near their business address but little presence across the broader geo- intent queries for their service area.
Our goal was to completely transform these map pack rankings across the entire city to maximize their visibility for all HVAC-related searches. But first we had to diagnose what issues were causing their lack of rankings currently.
The Transformation: From Invisible to Map Pack Domination in 1 Month
Our client was struggling to gain traction and barely ranking in the Map Pack for their target service area in November. However, after just 1 month of our proprietary SEO approach, we were able to completely transform their rankings and secure multiple map pack listings across their city.
The before and after screenshots showcase this incredible improvement:
As you can see, they went from being nearly invisible in the Map Pack to consistently ranking in the top 3 positions for their high-value keywords. This explosion in rankings occurred in just 30 days, demonstrating the immense power of our holistic SEO strategy.
By December, after our optimizations, their presence was prominently displayed for relevant searches across their entire service area. The impressive map pack dominance was sustained even through Google’s December 2021 core update.
This incredible transformation yielded tremendous dividends, with the client reporting a significant uplift in phone calls and customer conversions month-over-month.
Diagnosing the Issues
When we took over this HVAC company’s SEO, the first thing we looked at was their existing Google My Business rankings. We saw they were ranking in positions 6, 7, and 8 for their target keywords and service area. This told us two key things:
- Their on-page optimization likely needed improvement. Rankings in the 6-8 range meant they had done some basic optimization like adding services to their GMB profile and posting related content on their website. However, it clearly wasn’t enough to push them into the coveted map pack in the 1-3 positions.
- They likely needed more high-quality backlinks. While you can rank in the map pack with just on-page optimization, getting top 3 rankings often requires additional trust and authority signals. The 6-8 rankings indicated they didn’t have enough domain authority and credible external links compared to their competitors.
So our game plan was clear – significantly improve their on-page optimization and link profile. We needed to better optimize their website content, schema markup, GMB listing, and landing pages. And we needed to build high-quality backlinks from relevant websites to reinforce their expertise and trustworthiness. Executing this strategy allowed us to quickly elevate their rankings and secure the top map pack positions.
Optimizing on-page elements like the Google My Business (GMB) profile, website landing pages, and schema markup formed the foundation of our strategy.
We began by ensuring the client’s GMB profile accurately reflected their services and business information. The posts and services listed on their GMB profile needed to precisely match the target keywords we wanted to rank for.
Next, we created dedicated landing pages on the website for each of their most important target keywords. These landing pages clearly communicated the services offered and wove in relevant city entities like parks, schools, neighborhoods to establish locality.
Finally, we significantly enhanced the schema markup for each landing page to provide Google with more structured data. We focused on:
- LocalBusiness schema to highlight key details like business name, address, opening hours.
- WebPage schema with About and Mentions fields containing only 1-2 core entities.
- HasOfferCatalog markup to showcase services offered.
- SameAs links to all citations and online profiles.
This optimized schema helped Google understand the nature of the business, the location served, and the services offered.
Together, optimizing the GMB profile, website landing pages, and schema markup established a solid on-page foundation primed for local SEO success.
Writing Targeted Content
One of the keys to ranking well in local search is optimizing your content for both the service and the location separately, rather than just the service in that specific location.
For example, if you want to rank for “HVAC contractor in New York City”, don’t just write content optimized for that exact phrase. This puts you in a very small niche that limits your reach and visibility.
Instead, write content optimized for “HVAC contractor” as one topic, and “New York City” as another separate topic. Then link these topics together in a natural way.
The content should explain what makes you a great HVAC contractor, the services you provide, your expertise and qualifications, etc. Don’t just stuff in the keyword – provide real value.
When discussing New York City, include relevant geo-entities like parks, landmarks, neighborhoods, local businesses, sports teams, and anything else that is uniquely tied to NYC. This signals to Google that you serve that location.
By separating the service and location into distinct, value-driven sections, you open up the opportunity to rank for many more related searches. Google understands the page covers HVAC broadly AND specifically serves New York City.
This semantic-based approach is far more powerful than just targeting “HVAC contractor in New York City”. It requires high-quality content tailored to each element. But the long-term payoff in terms of relevance, visibility and conversions is immense.
Properly Structuring Schema
Schema markup provides Google with additional information about your business that can help improve local SEO rankings. A key part of implementing schema is structuring it properly on the page.
When adding schema, it’s important to use the “about” and “mentions” fields correctly. The “about” field should only include 1-2 topics that the page is directly about. For an HVAC company optimizing for a city, this would likely be “HVAC” and the “city name”.
Any other related topics should go in “mentions”, not “about”. Things like services offered, areas served, etc. should go in “mentions” since the page is not directly about each of those things. It just references them.
The “areasServed” field is also very important for local SEO. This tells Google exactly which geographic areas you serve.
Finally, “sameAs” can help improve entity optimization by linking out to all of your online citations and profiles. Rather than just social media links, add URLs to all 400+ citations here.
By properly structuring schema this way, Google has more signals to understand what the page focus is, what services you offer, and where they are offered. This strengthens the semantic local SEO and leads to higher map pack rankings.
Optimizing the Landing Page
To optimize the landing page and improve the client’s local SEO rankings, we focused on structuring the page content around their HVAC service offerings and target location entities.
The key was to break free from solely optimizing for the exact keyword phrase “HVAC contractor in [city]” which puts you in a very narrow box. Instead, we wanted the page to be about HVAC contractor services and also about the city, to match user intent for “are you an HVAC contractor and do you serve my city?”
We essentially wrote two pages in one – the top half covers the HVAC services, experience, and why you should choose the company. The bottom half covers geo-targeted entities related to the city itself:
- Government offices
- Major highways
Including these specific geo-entities that Google understands signals this page is highly relevant for that target city.
By optimizing the page for both HVAC contractor services and the city entities, we strengthened the semantics to match user intent. This allowed Google to understand the page as being about an HVAC contractor serving that specific area, leading to prominent map pack rankings.
The key takeaway is structuring your local SEO landing pages around your services and your location – not the exact keyword phrase. This semantic optimization approach is far more powerful for ranking in Google’s local results.
While on-page optimization formed the core of our strategy, we knew that additional signals in the form of high-quality backlinks would give an extra boost.
For local SEO, you don’t need hundreds of powerful guest posts like you would for regular organic rankings. Instead, a handful of relevant, locally-focused links can make a big difference.
We utilized two tactics to build quality links and citations:
Niche edits are edits made to industry-specific profiles on sites like Manta, Cylex, Hotfrog, and others.
By claiming and enhancing the client’s profiles, we were able to add their business information, a description, images, and most importantly – a backlink to their website.
In total, we compiled a list of 45 niche directories and spent time optimizing each profile. These niche edits provided a trust signal while expanding their online presence.
Cloud stacks refer to creating a cluster of local citations and reviews that all point to the client’s Google listing.
We manually built out cloud stacks on largely untapped platforms like newspaper sites, web 2.0 properties, and review sites.
The key here was to blanket their entire service area, ensuring their business showed up for local searches across the region.
This cluster of high-authority domains all linking to their GMB listing gave Google the signals it needed to rank them prominently in the Map pack.
By combining semantic optimization with strategic links, we were able to catapult this HVAC business to the top of the local pack in record time!
The transformation for this HVAC client is an incredible case study showcasing the power of semantic local SEO and strategic link building. By analyzing their existing presence, we were able to pinpoint key optimization areas to rapidly enhance their visibility.
The main takeaways from this project include:
- Understand the importance of writing targeted content optimized for semantic search intent rather than just keywords. Focus your content on your service and location instead of exact match keyword strings.
- Proper schema markup greatly improves how search engines understand and index your pages. Customize schema with detailed offerings, service area, and related entities.
- Build internal links between your GMB listing and website to reinforce your online properties are associated.
- Link building, even just a few high-quality links, can give that final ranking boost needed to catapult your rankings. Focus on relevant niche edits and contextual local links.
- Monitor regularly and continue optimizing existing content and adding fresh pages. Consistency is key for long-term domination.
By implementing these strategies, you too can achieve dramatic improvements in local pack rankings within a short timeframe. The techniques covered in this case study can apply to any local business looking to expand their digital visibility and attract new customers.