SEO for solar companies - Increase traffic without link building

Updated:
July 15, 2021
SEO can be complicated. This article guides you through the easy steps on how to get more people to find your solar company through SEO.

So you want to be able to grow your solar company online. You’ve heard of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and want to know more about generating traffic.

You’re not looking to dominate the entire solar industry. You’re just looking to have better search results than your nearby competitors.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

For you to have found me, I would’ve first needed to post content that answered a query that you would later search for.

So if you want the same results for your customers, all you have to do is replicate the process of how you found this article. 

It’s simple. 

Start writing. 

Your words become articles.

Your articles become your blog.

 

Your blog will start attracting attention from the right people. 

I never considered myself to be a writer. But now, I have written hundreds of thousands of words across many different websites. 

Here are a few benefits to writing:

  • Your reader sees you as an expert. 
  • Your reader gets value because you have solved their problem.
  • Your thoughts become clearer when they are written down.
  • Each article you write becomes an asset to your website and business.
  • Your blog can be an active lead generation tool.

Now, let’s look at how writing a blog helps your SEO.

1. SEO basics

SEO is not supposed to be a magical phenomenon that only a handful of people know. It is not some special way for you to game the system. 

I’ve also heard some people say “SEO is dead”. 

It is not dead.

Anyone can carve out their own little space on the internet and dominate it. 

To understand SEO, we need to understand Google’s goal. 

Anytime you have a question, a query or a problem, Google wants you to use their search tool to answer that question.

Once you get a satisfactory answer, you are more likely to use Google in the future.

So this gets repeated. 

  1. Question
  2. Query
  3. Answer

For you to keep trusting Google, they need to keep displaying the very best answers. 

So they need a way to rank each answer from best to worst. 

How do you do that? How do you rank your pages above others? 

Well, there are two methods of thought to rank your pages.

2. SEO on a spectrum

There are two main but competing thoughts with SEO. They fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. 

One method says to produce as many articles as possible. 

The other method says to spend half your time promoting your article. 

Both methods are good and both methods work. They both work because they are helping websites of different sizes.

Many websites have succeeded in adopting one of these methods.

Let’s take a look. 

2.1 Content Promotion

The content promotion method asks you to spend half of your time creating content. Spend the other of your time on promoting and marketing that content.

The aim of promoting your content:

  • Get more initial eyeballs
  • Helps develop online relationships
  • Improve the chances of someone creating a backlink to your content

This method works better for larger websites. Typically, 

  • Their domain has been around for years
  • They have built up a brand
  • The writers already understand SEO
  • The website has pages that are ranking well
  • They understand who they are writing for 
  • They already have an established quantity of content and backlinks. 

For these websites, it is a better use of their time to produce content that they know their audience will like, and use their previously built up network to promote it.

2.2 Content Flooding

The “Content Flooding” approach asks you to spend all your time creating content. 

The aim is to create as many pieces of useful content as possible. 

This leaves no time for promotion.

In the time that it takes for a “Content Promoter” to produce 1 piece of content, the “Content Flooder” would’ve produced many more.

Let’s take a look at which ones you should look into. 

This method works better for newer websites. Typically,

  • Their domain has been up for a short time.
  • Very few of their pages are ranking well so far.
  • They are still experimenting with their voice
  • They may not know their audience
  • Their email list has a relatively low subscriber count
  • They have very few backlinks

For these websites, it is a better use of their time to produce as much content as possible. They are just finding their voice, learning about blogging and SEO, and slowly building up Google’s trust in them. 

So here are some reasons why I think you should adopt the “Content Flooding” approach and not spend time on promotion.

If you are in this position, let’s explore some of the reasons. 

2.3 Quantity > Perfection

When you first get started, it is far better to produce as much as you can rather than focusing on perfection. 

Here’s an excerpt from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.

On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.
Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.
Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.
At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.
The quantity group is where we should all start. 

Forget perfection. 

Aim for quantity, and you will reach excellence.

2.4 Finding your voice

As you begin writing, you may not know who your audience is and what problems they are facing. 

The only way to find out is to write as much as you can, adapt to the feedback, and learn from your mistakes. 

The important thing is to find out what works the best.

For me, I love memes. 

They help me convey my point, and gives me have some fun along the way. 

2.5 Google’s recommendations

Google themselves have come out and said that they do not award active link building. In other words, activities that try and get others to link to you. 

They don’t like it.

They don’t like links that are either bought or exchanged for something else of value. 

They prefer organically generated links. They want content creators to link to content because the content was of great value; Not because they were offered an incentive.

2.6 Backlinks are becoming overrated

Back in the day, backlinks were the primary way for Google to determine how well your site ranks. 

They are still important, but it is not as critical as before. 

These days, User Experience (UX) is now much more important. 

With Google Chrome and Google Analytics, Google themselves can track users across websites to the minute detail. 

These include:

  • How long you spend on the page
  • Whether you navigated to another page or pressed the back button
  • What interactions you made on the page

All these tiny little signals the user sends back to Google help them determine whether a page was suitable for the search query or not. 

The better it serves the visitor, the higher chance it will rank high. 

2.7 Viral Content

Almost everybody wants their content to become viral. The dream is for others to like your content and share it with their friends. 

However, it is extremely difficult to create viral content. 

The only way to maximise your chances of creating viral content is to create as much as possible, and just hope that one of them becomes viral. 

Here’s a  video of Garry Vaynerchuk explaining this at a conference. 

As a result, it is a better method to create a large volume of work rather than a few. 

2.8 Writing conclusion

If your target is to create content that will outrank your nearby competitors, then I would recommend the Content Flooding approach. 

Once your website has matured, I would recommend adopting the Content Promotion approach. 

Now, let’s take a look at what to write about. 

3. Purpose of each article

The purpose of each article you write is to answer a particular question of your customer. 

Always start with your customer.

Think of it from your customer’s perspective. They have a particular problem, and they want to find a solution to that problem.

       
ProblemGoogle Query
They want to know how solar panels workHow do solar panels work?
They want to see whether their home is feasible for solarWill solar work on my home?
They want to know how much money they'll be savingSolar panel savings calculator
They want to know what products are goodWhat are the best solar panels?
They want to know what pitfalls to avoidSolar panel mistakes
They want to know how much it'll costSolar system quotes
They want to find out more about different installers in their areaSolar installer reviews

If you type in these queries into Google, you will find that there are thousands of answers on there. The first 5 pages contain some of the best answers from the largest solar websites online. 

If your website is new, and you were to write an article on any one of these topics, it will be extremely difficult for your pages to rank well. 

The competition is intense. 

The quality of the articles is high.

The domain authority of these websites is high. 

As a result, we need to do some research and target search queries that are of much lower competition. 

Low competition queries usually mean that there are fewer or lower quality answers to a specific query. 

This usually occurs when you would be targeting queries that are much more specific. 

Yes, this also means there is less traffic. 

But some traffic is always better than no traffic. 

Here are some examples of highly specific searches. 

  • Goodwe MS series 5-10KW review
  • Growatt MIN 5000TL-XH vs Huawei SUN2000-5KTL-L1
  • Fronius inverter lost wifi connection

These may be great topics to start blogging, answering your customers’ queries and becoming known as a thought leader. 

But this is just scratching the surface. 

There are thousands of topics you can choose from. The more you dig deeper, the more you can write about. 

Here are some suggestions on how to find good topics to write about:

3.1 Keyword tools

You may have already heard of Ahrefs. It is a subscription-based tool that gives you backlink data on almost every page on the internet. 

Their tool is very powerful. 

However, they are not Google. And so their results are at best an educated estimate. At worst, it is a stab in the dark. 

I receive hundreds of visitors a month to the article I wrote on Webflow vs Wordpress. However, the traffic quantity by Ahref showed that it was very low and that the competition was medium. 

If I had listened to Ahrefs, I may not have written the article. 

But I have, and I continually get 1000+ visitors/month from that one article. 

In addition, anyone can buy a subscription and obtain the same results as you. 

In conclusion, Ahrefs is a great tool, but don’t trust their results blindly. 

3.2 Forum search

One of the best ways to find out exactly what problems your customers are facing is to go directly to forums. 

3.2.1 Reddit - reddit.com/r/solar

Reddit is a gathering of like-minded people online who want to talk about similar niche topics. If you have an interest in something, you can be sure there is a subreddit for it. 

Just a quick browse of /r/solar shows a collection of queries that others have had problems with. 

There are 3 potential topics you can write about to answer these questions:

  • What happens to a panel and micro-inverter when the power goes out to a net-metered system?
  • The discrepancy between production and surplus of new solar
  • Difference between PGE net metering and SolarEdge portal

3.2.2 Whirlpool - https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum/143?g=371

If you are in Australia, the whirlpool forums are a fantastic resource. The users are active and helpful. 

Once again, look into topics which people have asked about, and discussed. 

Here are just a few topics from this list that you can write about:

  • How to monitor solar remotely.
  • 6.6kw vs 10.3kw
  • Solar Analytics review

3.3 Google autocomplete

The only company that has the data that Google has is Google themselves. Although they will never offer that data, we can get a glimpse into it. 

And all of it is for free. 

As you type words into the search bar, Google will show the most commonly typed searches. In addition, we can be sure that there is a base minimum quantity of people searching for this term.

3.3.1 Alphabet search

You can cycle through from A-Z to get topics.

  • [search term] A
  • ---
  • [search term] Z

3.3.2 You can add prefixes such as:

  • How [search term]
  • When [search term]
  • What [search term]

3.3.3 You can add suffixes such as:

  • [search term] reviews
  • [search term] mistakes
  • [search term] prices

You can build hundreds of potential articles using these techniques.

4. Article length

Generally speaking, the longer the article, the higher chance it will rank. 

Longer articles give Google a better chance to understand the purpose of your page and how well it answers the user’s problem. 

As a result, we should be tailoring our article length based on the level of competition.

The tougher the competition, the longer our article needs to be. 

Because we are aiming to write as many articles as we can, we should be writing minimally to achieve the maximum results. 

If a short article can propel your page to #1, there is no need to invest in writing a long article. It would be a simple waste of your time. 

In addition, you can also add more meat to your article at a later stage if you see that other articles have been produced that are better than yours. 

My suggestion is to consider writing articles in 3 different types. 

  • Short 1300 - 1500 words
  • Medium 2300 - 2500 words
  • Long 3500+ words

4.1 Short article (1300 - 1500 words)

These short articles give answers to direct questions.

Leave them satisfied that they don’t need to turn to another article.

4.2 Medium article (2300 - 2500 words)

These are typically your list articles. You can tackle list articles in 1 of 2 ways.

  • Have a few tips, say between 4-8, but dive deep into the tips and offer step by step instructions.
  • Have an unbeatable list of the top 100 of a particular topic. 

4.3 Long article (3500+ words)

Long articles should be your ultimate guides or epic explanations. 

These articles should be on big topics where you want to attract many different search terms. It may take you days to write and edit.

Now let’s take a look at when you should write short, medium or long articles.

5. Evaluating competition

Don’t start writing if you don’t think you can reach the #1 position for the particular query. 

But how do we evaluate whether we should write an article or not?

5.1 Example 1 

Let’s query for “Growatt MIN 5000TL-XH vs Huawei SUN2000-5KTL-L1”. 

The first result is a forum result from Whirlpool. This is fantastic news. This means that there is interest, but no website has written a direct answer to this question. 

A short article should be sufficient to get to the #1 position.

5.2 Example 2

Let’s query for “Solar Analytics review”, and look at the search results.

The competition for the first place result is extremely high. The top 5 articles are from domains with very high authority in this space.

Moreover, each article is packed with tons of great information. If we gave it a shot, we will need to produce an extremely long article with great content. 

Because the competition for the #1 position is so intense. You may need to do some active link building. My recommendation is not to tackle this page at all.

6. On-Page SEO

You may have heard of On-Page SEO or Off-Page SEO.

On-Page SEO is the collection of activities you do on your site to maximise the chances of Google ranking your page. 

Off-Page SEO includes all of the active link building, promotion, or guest posting activities.

Let’s take a look at the On-Page SEO activities we can do to optimise our chances.

6.1 Title

The job of your title is to entice the visitor to click on your search result in Google. The best titles are ones that are helpful, interesting, unique or unbelievable. But your content has to back up the claim you laid out in your title. Otherwise, it is just clickbait.

It should contain the main keywords that you are trying to rank the page for. The keyword should also be at the front as much as possible. 

6.2 Meta Description

The meta description on a page summarises the contents of your page for the benefit of users and search engines.

Again, it should contain the keyword you are hoping to rank for.

6.3 Internal linking

Go through your article and see if there are links that you could create to your other pages. This process is called internal linking.

Every link you create:

  • Adds credibility to your receiving page. 
  • May increase the ranking of your receiving page
  • Gives your readers a chance to understand a topic in depth.
  • Increases the chance your user spends more time on your site
  • Decreases the chance of your visitor bounce (visitor visiting your page, but then exiting without doing anything else)

6.4 Google related searches

After making your search on Google, scroll down to the very bottom.

You may see something like this:

These are similar searches that others have made.

Some may not be suitable, but this is a goldmine of topics that you can include in your blog. Google knows that these topics are related and that people have searched for these questions.

You can include them by either dedicating a whole section (100-300 words) or just by answering with 1-2 sentences in your FAQ.

6.5 Main feature image

Your main feature image is what your user will see as the first thing they visit this page. Your user will interpret the meaning of the image much faster than understanding your title. 

So the image needs to be on point, succinct and conveys your article.

The best images to use are the photos you’ve taken yourself. Your photos:

  • Are more authentic
  • Creates trust with your reader
  • Have no copyright issues

The next best are stock images. Here are some free ones you can use:

6.6 Content images

Images are a great way to help drive your point across as well as breaking up long text. It makes it easier for your readers to understand you while keeping them engaged.

Google is good at understanding what the images are. But there is one thing that many developers (including myself) forget is to add an “alt description” to each image. 

It does a few things:

  • It tells Google what the image is about
  • For visitors that have disabled images, the description will come up instead.
  • It is more likely your image will come up in image search

6.7 Keyword percentage (Don’t do this)

Years ago, SEO experts have advised for a certain percentage of your content to have the keyword that you’re looking to rank for.

With the explosion of Wordpress and Yoast SEO, they even had a green, orange, and red grade to show how close you are to the “ideal” percentage.

Yoast advised that you should keep to around 3-4%. Too few and Google won’t understand your page’s intent, and too much is just “gaming” the system. In addition, they advised that some subheadings should also contain your headings.

Google has since updated their algorithm (many times), and they are far smarter than that now. Keyword percentage has become an old and dated tool.

As a result, stop worrying about your keyword percentages. 

Instead, concentrate on delivering a good experience for your reader. These could be:

  • Statistics
  • Quotes
  • Anecdotes
  • Graphs
  • Tables
  • Animations

Your reader’s engagement and experience on the page is now seen as more important than keywords.

Of course, keywords are still important. You should worry about them in your title and H1 tag. 

But they should not be the be-all and end-all of your content.

7. SEO Mistakes I made

7.1 I didn’t answer specific problems

In the beginning, I made the mistake of targeting short term keywords with high competition. 

I wrote an article on Webpage anatomy. The page has fantastic content, and I spent a long time writing it. 

But it is languishing on page 3-4 consistently. I get about 1 view a month. Hardly groundbreaking.

  • I didn’t have the domain authority
  • I didn’t have enough backlinks
  • My content wasn’t good enough.

Don’t make the mistake that I made. 

When you first get started, find specific problems. 

7.2 I wasn’t consistent enough

Life gets in the way. Business, projects, clients, websites, social media, etc. They all get in the way.

But these are just excuses. 

Motivation may get you started, but it won’t help you continue. 

Setting a good habit will. 

“Atomic habits” changed me completely. 

This book helped me understand that whilst motivation can get you started, it is getting into a good habit that will continue to drive you forward. 

7.3 I didn’t do proper research

An article I wrote was about being featured with renewable energy blogs. Although the value was there, hardly anybody ever searched for it. 

It wasn’t a problem that they were having or some knowledge that they didn’t know they needed.

It received about 1 view a month.

I had to make a change.  

I changed the title, the URL and the overall outcome of the article, and made the article about getting backlinks rather than getting featured. 

Backlinks are something that people searched for.

The results are much better now.

I get more than 1 view a month.

8. Conclusion

This is just one method of doing SEO. It has worked for me, and is working for clients of mine.

Your method may be different.

Please comment below what methods you use to rank your websites? I'd love to find out.

Get more customers

Find out how to attract customers, charge more or rank higher

Let's have a chat

Find out how to attract customers, charge more or rank higher

Join to get tips on growing your solar company online

No spam. I promise.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.