Because of the rising electricity costs, many people are asking Google for easy and practical ways to go off-grid and reduce their electricity bills.
And you as a solar installer, have the answer to their problem.
But how to reach this audience and turn them into customers?
Well, the answer is very simple, keyword research for solar installers.
And in this article, we will walk you through the exact process we do to generate thousands of clicks each month.
Step 1: Sign up for ahrefs 7 days trial
Let’s face it, all SEO tools are super expensive and if you are just starting out, you won’t even use most of their features.
One of the main reasons we choose ahrefs as our keyword search tool for solar installers is the 7 days trial for only 7 dollars.
Ahrefs gives you the chance to use all their features for a week, so you can do all the keyword research you need without paying hundreds of dollars.
Now all you need to do is to go to https://ahrefs.com/start-trial, fill in your personal information, and get ready for step 2.
Note: There are many awesome keyword research tools out there that will do the trick such as Semrush, Moz, KWfinder, or even google autosuggest. However, we think ahrefs interface is super user-friendly and provide more accurate data.
Step 2: Go to Keyword Explorer
In this step, we will start inserting some broad solar-related terms such as solar power, solar energy, solar panel, and solar panels.
Now, you need to choose the country you wish to rank in.
The United States is the default search country for ahrefs, so if you are a solar installer in the United Kingdom, Australia, or any other country, choose your country from the drop-down list to make sure you are targeting the right audience.
Note: Your website can rank globally. However, as a solar installer, a global audience won’t bring you much value and it will be just a waste of time and effort.
After choosing your country, now it’s time to click the search button and filter the results to get the best keywords that will drive you tons of traffic.
Step 3: Understand The Metrics
Clicking the search button will show you an overview of the broad terms you inserted earlier with weird columns such as KD, Volume, Global, Clicks, CPC, CPS, RR, SF, and Parent Topic.
Don’t worry, in this section, we will go through each one of these terms and what they stand for.
It stands for keyword difficulty, which is how hard it’s to rank on the first page of google (top 10 results).
The scale is from 0-100 and the higher the score is, the more difficult it’s for you to rank.
What do you mean by “hard to rank”?
Hard to rank means that there is a lot of competition and in order to outrank these competitors you will need plenty of resources.
What are the resources I need?
- Good Content: Content is king, Google has only one job, provide its customers (searchers) with the best possible answer to their question (best content), so without good content, Google won’t bother ranking you
- Authority: Imagine if I started a brand new site and tried to compete against Wikipedia and I wrote the best content in the world, do you think Google will rank me #1?
Exactly, Google will never rank me over Wikipedia, because I am no one, I have no authority, no one even knows that I exist (link to my site). So make sure to understand the authority gap between you and your competitor (Domain Rating)
- Backlinks: If ranking in Google is an election, then backlinks are the votes.
Backlinks are a way to show Google that people like your content so much that they linked to it on their own websites.
Mainly, there are 4 types of backlinks:
- Dofollow: This is the most powerful type of links and it simply tells Google that this article is a great resource, please rank it higher
- Nofollow: Nofollow backlinks are good to have. However, it’s way less powerful than the dofollow ones and it will barely move the needle
- Advertise: Marking the link as advertise tells Google that this is a paid link, this type of links is mainly used for affiliate programs
- UGC: It stands for User Generated Content and it’s the backlinks you get from commenting on other blogs and forums
This is an estimation of how many people are searching for this specific term each month.
For instance, in the US, people are searching for the term “solar panels” 223 thousand times.
As mentioned before, your content can and will rank globally.
For instance, the term “solar panels” is searched for 416 thousand times each month all over the world, not just the United States.
However, global users won’t bring you much value, because after all, what really matters is sales (money).
Sometimes you search for something and you just read the snippet or find your answer in the “people also ask” boxes.
Also, sometimes you click on multiple results to find the best article that answers your questions.
You see where I am going right?
Clicks are simply an estimation of how many clicks people make while searching for this keyword each month.
For instance, the term “solar panels” gets around 170 thousand clicks per month although it has a search volume of 223K.
Why grind for content, backlinks, and wait months to rank organically while you can just pay Google?
CPC stands for Cost Per Click, and it’s simply the average amount of money you need to spend to get one click via Google Ads.
For instance, if you are a solar installer in Bakersfield, California, then you can opt for Google Ads and pay $25 per click.
But is paying $25 for a single click worth it?
Well, it highly depends on your conversion rate.
For example, if you have a conversion rate of 10% and each sale and each sale is worth $1000, then for every $250 you spend (10 clicks), you earn $750 ($1000-$250).
Also, there are many ways to significantly reduce your CPC such as targeting long tail keywords, use negative keywords, Ad scheduling, and many more.
CPS stands for Click Per Search, which is the ratio between the clicks and the search volume.
For instance, the term “solar panels” has a search volume of 223K and gets around 170K clicks.
So, the CPS will be 170 ÷ 223 = 0.7623.
This is the Return Rate, which is an indicator of how many times the same person searches for a given keyword over a 30-day period.
For example, if everyone searched for “solar panels” twice a month, then the Return Rate will be 2.
Step 4: Filtering
After understanding the metrics and what they stand for, it’s about time to start our keyword research journey.
The first thing we need to do is to click on the Phrase Match section at the left of the page.
This will show you a list of all the possible keywords related to the broad solar terms you inserted in the second step.
The Phrase Match tab will have more than 440 thousand keywords. For this reason, it important to filter the results to get the best possible keyword/s that will drive you hundreds and thousands of traffic each month.
Ahrefs allows you to filter by:
- Keyword Difficulty: This filter allows you to choose a range of keywords difficulties. For instance, if you have a low domain authority and need easy to rank keywords, you can apply this filter to show you only the keywords that have a KD between 0 and 10
- Volume: This allows you to filter the results by how many organic searches the keyword gets per month
- Global Volume: This is similar to the Volume filter, the only difference is that it filters using the global traffic
- Word Count: How many words your keyword must-have. For instance, if you applied this filter and choose the min word count to be 3, then all the keywords with less than 3 words will be removed leaving you with only the long-tail keywords
- Include: Keep only the keywords that contain this specific term
- Exclude: Remove all the keywords that contain this specific term
So how to apply filters to get the best keywords?
Well, because there are many variables to consider such as your location, domain authority, how many resources do you have, etc.
It will be pretty hard if not impossible to make a custom layout for each and every scenario.
For this reason, we will show you how it’s done using two custom scenarios.
Our first scenario will be a small solar installer in Bakersfield, California, who has very little domain authority (new site) and want to rank without building links.
So for this scenario, our approach will be:
A. Include Filter
In this scenario, your main audience is people looking to install solar panels in Bakersfield, California.
Therefore, the first thing you need to do is to apply the Include filter to show only results that have the word Bakersfield and its synonyms.
Note: Applying this filter will only show you local keywords (money keywords). This means that it won’t show you general info keywords such as how to install solar panels, how to clean solar panels, etc that will drive you tons of global traffic.
But as mentioned before, in this scenario we are a small solar installer who only targets customers that are located in Bakersfield, California.
B. KD Filter
Because you have neither authority nor resources to build backlinks, you need to opt for easy to rank keywords. In other words, you can only rank for the low competition keywords.
For this reason, you need to apply a KD filter to show only the results that have less than 20 Keyword Difficulty, as they are easier to rank.
C. Exclude Filter
Sometimes, you don’t want to rank for certain terms such as brand names (competitors), used solar panels, etc.
In our scenario, two of our competitors are OCI solar power and Golden State solar.
Thus, we will remove these search terms from our results using the exclude filter.
D. Volume Filter
Volume filter is mainly used if you are ranking across the state, so you have thousands of keyword results and you want to filter them even more because you obviously don’t want to waste your time or resources for a 50 search volume keyword while there are hundreds of 500+ volume keywords.
However, in this particular scenario, we are a small solar installer who would be happy with 50 visits per month.
Thus, we won’t apply any search filter as there aren’t many keywords in the first place.
You are a shark, you are a killer whale, you have high domain authority, can generate hundreds of backlinks, and you are here to dominate the solar energy industry in all of California.
A. Include Filter
In this scenario, you want to rank for all the keywords related to California.
Thus, we will use the include filter to show only results from California by typing in California, ca, cal, golden state, golden bear state, etc.
Note: Make sure to switch to the Any Word tab if you are writing in more than 1 keyword.
B. KD Filter
Because we have high authority and the resources to generate backlinks, we don’t really care if the keyword is hard to rank or not.
For this reason, we won’t apply any KD filters.
C. Exclude Filter
We will use the exclude filter to remove unwanted topics such as competitors, spam words like as free, etc.
In this scenario, we will exclude the brand name of all our competitors such as NRG, Solar Optimum, SolarUnion, etc.
If we are this big, we won’t bother ranking for the best solar installer in Bakersfield. Instead, we will aim to rank for the best solar installer in California.
As this will give us the chance to rank for all the cities in California state without making a specific page for every town.
For this reason, we will adjust our volume filter to show only the results that have more than 100 search volume per month.
Note: 100 is still considered to be a low search volume. However, because we rank locally and there aren’t many keywords, it’s OK to target them.
Step 5: Export
Now we are done with our keyword search and we have hundreds of keywords for solar installers that will drive us hundreds of customers each month.
The next step here is to export these keywords to a Google sheet, so we can analyze them.
To export, all you need to do is:
- Click the checkbox next to Keyword to highlight all the keywords
- Click the Export button
- That’s it, now it’s about time to do some search analysis
Step 6: Do Search Analysis
Sometimes, even if the keyword has a very low KD. It can be very hard to rank at the top of Google.
For this reason, it’s very important to do a search analysis for every keyword before investing the time and effort into it.
Here are a few things you need to ask yourself:
- Can you write much better content than what’s already ranking?
- Do you have enough authority with google to compete with them?
- Can you afford to get the same number of quality backlink they have?
If you answered yes to all of these 3 questions, then go for it.
If not, then consider ranking for a more longtail keyword or wait till you have enough resources.
Tip: How to Find More Keywords
As a solar installer, it’s always good to rank for more general solar-related keywords to drive more traffic and hopefully earn more authority with Google.
For instance, in Solar Energy Hackers, we have a full information section that answers the most frequently asked questions such as What are the Pros and Cons of Solar Energy, How Long Does it Take for Solar Panels to Pay for Themselves, What are the Different Types of Solar Lights, and many more.
This type of content is great for link building and will give you more credibility with customers.
And here is how you can find these keywords:
- Click on the Questions tab
This will provide you with a list of tens of thousands of questions that people frequently ask.
- Apply some filters to find the best keywords
- Export the results and do search analysis for each keyword
- Generate awesome content
Doing keyword search for solar installers is very easy once you know the very basics.
And as promised, in this guide, we provided you with the quickest and easiest ways to drive more traffic and hopefully sales to your site.
We really hope you enjoyed this article as much as we did.
Do you have any questions about keyword research?
If so, please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.