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Self-serve SEO

How a gasfitter optimized the power of many and rose to the top of online searches

Five years ago, Colin Hamilton, CEO of the Gasfitter Group of Companies, didn?t know anything about search engine optimizaton (SEO) or how to get his website to rank high in Google searches. Today, he has built a successful lead-generation site for his company and for more than 70 heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry partners throughout North America.

Using a combination of online techniques and old-school marketing know-how, Hamilton launched to compete against other major online directories. His plan was to create a central 1-888-WE-GAS-4U brand at that would offer landing pages to participating gas fitting, furnace, boiler and HVAC installation businesses in other regions.

?I call my strategy ?industry army marketing,?? said Hamilton. ?It uses as a hub that all of the other businesses point to. It?s the same business model that directories use by presenting a group of businesses in one place.? is an extensive website that offers a one-stop solution for people searching for HVAC products and services. The business model is designed to leverage the collective power of many different businesses to negotiate volume-based pricing with industry suppliers and shared equipment.

While Hamilton didn?t have digital marketing experience, he knew the HVAC business, his competitors and his customers.

?I came up with a business plan and did some SEO training,? he said. By creating a single website, his industry partners can purchase a branded page and take advantage of the optimized site that ranks well in Google searches.

?In our model, there is only one client per region,? said Hamilton, whose team phones established companies across Canada and sells yearly packages of $1,000 that buys rights to their region of business on as well as a $100 monthly SEO maintenance package.

To date, Hamilton has signed up more than 70 businesses across Canada and into the U.S. by combining basic SEO techniques he learned along with tried-and-true traditional cold calling. ?Each week, three to four people are signing up and buying a region on our site,? he said.

?According to statistics, the average consumer reads eight to 10 different reviews before they walk in the door of a retail store,? said Martin Wong, chief marketing officer of SmarttNet. ?If you want to make a sale, no matter what you?re selling, you need to rank well in Google?s search engine for your company or product to stand out.?

In a search for ?boiler installation ? or ?new furnace installation,? the search results lead to the site and related companies that have a banner page on the site with their contact info and a link to their website.

This way, the businesses aren?t competing against one another, but pool their resources to develop a unified and high-ranking online presence. It?s a dedicated directory of professionals that follows the franchise philosophy but individual companies retain their own brands, while working together to rank high in Google searches.

?[] is an information-rich site,? said Hamilton. ?We write pieces about different services, show videos and include quality back links. It?s the best opportunity if you don?t want to be a franchise and get good business when your brand is not that established.?

Wong explained that Google looks at different directories as part of its algorithm. If it sees the same name and address listed in different directories, it will enhance a business? score.

?A side benefit of using directories that list your website is that these backlinks provide your business with more exposure so you?ll rank higher in Google,? said Wong.

Whether a business is a brick-and-mortar store or an ecommerce site, any successful marketing plan is dependant on connecting with the consumers, where they are most comfortable.

?You want to know your consumer and how to reach them, whether it?s digital marketing, direct mail or on TV,? said Wong, who added, ?The overall trend is that more people are on the Internet. Digital marketing is affordable for small businesses and, as importantly, its results are measurable.? ?