04 Jun SEO For Accountants: A Guide For Modern Firms
Your accounting firm is missing out on leads.
Unless you have leveraged digital marketing to create an omnichannel approach to client acquisition, then you are definitely leaving money on the table.
One digital strategy that is often overlooked, in favour of old-fashioned networking and referral partnerships, is SEO for accountants.
This is a shame.
SEO, when firing at its full potential, can give your firm the same results as networking or building partnerships. In fact, SEO should be seen as a partnership with search engines – you give the search engines what they want, and they give your prospects and clients in return. The only difference is that SEO can be working for you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week… try getting a business development manager working those hours for your firm!
In this guide, you will learn the different areas of SEO that you should be implementing within your firm. But first, let’s cover off on some basics…
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimisation (or SEO for short) is the process of optimising a website so that it ranks highly in search engines. This results in the website being placed in front of people who are conducting related searches.
SEO results in an increase in both the quality and quantity of traffic landing on a website.
As an example, imagine that you are looking for a new place to get a haircut. You’d probably go to Google and search for “hairdresser near me” or “barber Sydney”. The results show after you’ve hit enter on the search are known as the Search Engine Results Page (or SERP). Studies show that the bulk of people click on one of the first three links and very rarely click through to page 2 (or more) of the SERP.
In fact, there’s an old joke amongst the SEO community… the best place to hide a body is on page 2 of Google.
The fact is that people are searching for accounting firms on Google every day. They are typing in queries like, “accountant near me” or “accounting firm Brisbane”.
So, let me ask you a question…
Where is your accounting firm’s website located in the search results?
Amongst the top 3?
Or, on page 2 (with all those bodies that SEO people have hidden)?
Why Is SEO Important?
SEO is important for accounting firms for one simple reason – it will help your firm grow through free, organic traffic. As mentioned above, people are searching for accountants every day. If you can capture some of these people through your SEO efforts, then you will be attracting inbound leads. As long as you have a sales process that converts those leads into clients, your firm will grow.
SEO is also important to set your firm apart from your competition. Whilst you are likely to have a similar clientele, you may specialise in servicing a particular niche. The process of building an SEO-friendly website will result in content that will attract your ideal client.
Also, SEO is similar to a good investment – the returns compound over time. This means that an investment in SEO can yield returns long after the SEO strategies are implemented.
SEO Strategies For Accounting Firms
There are a number of SEO strategies that all businesses should implement, however, in this guide I will tailor each strategy so that it is relevant to an accounting firm.
SEO can also be a technical subject. I’m going to do my best to keep everything in layman’s terms. If you don’t understand anything or want clarification on anything in the guide, just comment below and I’ll expand.
Keyword research for accountants involves identifying the keywords that you want to rank for, finding out the search volume, and checking out the competition.
The easiest way to approach the keyword research process is to first complete a comprehensive buyer persona. This will help your accounting firm to identify the needs, interests, fears and frustrations that your target market may be experiencing. You can then use this knowledge to compile your initial target keyword list.
It’s important to know that keyword research is an ongoing process. Some businesses will take a “set and forget” approach to keyword research, which is, once they have done it, they never update it.
I don’t recommend this approach.
You should be monitoring your keywords every month with an active review of your keyword list at least every three months. This will help you identify which keywords are working, which ones need work, whether you should remove any keywords, or add new ones to help you achieve your business objectives.
Keywords For Accountants
There are thousands of relevant keywords that you can choose for your accounting firm SEO, however, I’m going to brainstorm a few to help you get started.
Some examples of accounting SEO keywords are:
- Accountant Manly
- Accountant Sydney
- Accounting firm Fortitude Valley
- Accounting firm Brisbane
- CGT advice Liverpool
- CGT advice Sydney
- SMSF accountant
- Business advisory
- Small business accountant
- franchise business accountant
- Investment property accountant
- Investment property tax advice
- Advice on negative gearing
- Company tax returns
- … and much more
You can see from the first few keywords that you can add different locations to the keyword, for example, you can have keyword + suburb and keyword + city. I didn’t do this for all of the keywords, but you can quite easily make the adjustments to the individual keywords on your list.
It’s important to have high intent keywords that are applicable to your target market or niche. Don’t just stick with broad keywords like “accountant”, think about the unique problems that the members of your target market face and build out keywords around this.
Build out a page or post on your website targeting each of your keywords, starting with the high priority ones first.
On-Page SEO For Accountants
On-page SEO is the process of optimising the pages on your website so that your site can be ranked for the selected keywords. On-page SEO is important for accountants as this is one of the SEO strategies that you have direct influence over, whereas, off-page SEO is harder to control the many variables.
On-page SEO involves optimising each page or post on your site for the target keyword for that page. For example, the target keyword for this page is “SEO for accountants” so I need to optimise certain areas of the page for that keyword.
In fact, there are 5 key areas to optimise for on-page SEO:
- Header: Make sure that the target keyword appears in the H1 (or header) tag of the webpage.
- Slug: The slug is the final part of a URL that indicates that exact page of the site that you are on. Where possible, include your target keyword in the URL.
- 1st Paragraph: The first paragraph of your web page indicates to visitors and search engines what your page is about. include the target keyword in a natural way within the first paragraph of the content.
- Meta Description: The meta description is a piece of code that describes the content of a web page. It is often displayed by search engines in the SERPs so be sure to optimise it. Include the target keyword in the meta description.
- Alt-Text: The alt text is a description of the contents of images on your web page that is displayed when images don’t load properly. Include the keyword in the alt text, where and when it makes sense to do so.
Following this checklist can be hard if you have to come back to this page every time you’re optimising a page of your website. To save you the trouble, you can check out our 5-Point On-Page SEO Checklist from this page here.
Technical SEO For Accountants
The performance of your website matters and technical SEO factors can influence your search engines rankings. Because of this, it is important that you ensure that the technical side of your website is search engine friendly.
Some of these technical factors may be out of your comfort zone, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help.
The following are the technical factors that you should be improving on your website:
- Secure Your Site: SSL certificates will result in your URL beginning with HTTPS://. Google and other search engines have placed great emphasis on the security of sites, so it is SEO best practice to ensure that your website is secure.
- Mobile First: The way people browse the internet has changed. More people are accessing the internet (and search engines) from mobile devices. Because of this, it is important to have a mobile-friendly website that is responsive on all screen sizes.
- Loading Speed: Studies have shown that the longer people have to wait for a page to load, then the higher the probability is that they will “bounce” fro your site. Page loading speed is a ranking factor so make sure your website loads quickly.
- Sitemap: A sitemap is an XML file that you can submit to the various search engines to let them know about the structure and content of your website. Always have a sitemap.
- Structured Markup: Schema markup is code that you can add to your website to allow search engines to better understand the contents of your site. Add schema markup to your website to improve your search engine presence.
- Duplicate Content: Duplicate content makes it hard for search engines to attribute the original creator of the content. Because of this, it’s a great idea to keep all of your pages original.
- Robots.txt: This file can sometimes be blocked, prohibiting search engines from crawling your website. A good SEO website audit will uncover whether there are any issues with the robots.txt file.
Off-Page SEO For Accounting Firms
Off-page SEO is the process of building high-quality links on other websites that point back to your site. This is an important part of the process as it achieves a few important outcomes.
Links help to connect the web. Links help direct users around the internet and are recognised by search engines as being a ranking factor. The more high-quality links that point to your website, the higher authority they will assign to your site.
Building links can also be a traffic source in themselves. If a link to your page appears on a popular website, then you can expect to get a few visitors who have clicked on that link. We refer to this as “referral” traffic.
You can build links to your website using a number of strategies:
- Get your business listed in directories
- Submit your content to web 2.0 properties (i.e. blogging platforms)
- Publishing guest posts on other websites
- Submitting articles on directories carrying high authority
- Publishing content to niche websites
- Having your content shared on social sites
- Social bookmarking
- Creating and submitting infographics to various sites.
I could easily publish an entire guide on link building since there is so much involved. In fact, I probably should publish a link building guide… I’ll link to it here when I am done.
Off-page SEO can be very time-consuming. If you are able a busy business owner with not much time to spare, then it may be worth considering outsourcing this process.
Google My Business For Accountants
If your accounting firm has a physical address and serves people in a specific geographic area, then it is important to use Google My Business (GMB) as part of your overall marketing strategy. GMB will also help your SEO since it fuels the map pack and local search functions of Google.
For example, your business name, contact details and website can be positioned high for relevant local searches:
GMB can be used to acquire reviews from customers, which helps with your online reputation. You can also post to GMB, which is currently an underutilised option. Posting regularly to GMB may be the difference between your business being noticed online over your competitors.
Social media isn’t a direct influence on search engine optimisation, however, it can help build the online authority of your business. Some search engines deny that social shares are a ranking factor, whilst others have said that it does contribute to rankings.
Either way, it is a good idea to maintain a social media presence for your business. Studies show that the vast majority of potential clients will conduct online research into a brand before contacting them and you don’t want a stale social media account to put them off reaching out to you.
It’s also a good idea to share your content on social platforms. This can help drive traffic back to your site if people click on the link to your content.
Fresh content on your site is like fuel for the search engine fire. Search engines love fresh content so it’s a good idea to give it to them. Studies from HubSpot show that companies that blog more than 16 times per month generate 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than companies that only blog 0 to 4 times per month.
Blogging is just one format of content marketing – you can also use video and audio to create content. In fact, the savvy content marketer will actually produce a video, then create a blog, audio, and social content from that one asset.
Many small businesses would be lucky to blog a few times a year, let alone a few times each month. When was the last blog published on your website? How consistent have you been publishing content to your site?
How To Take Your Accounting Firm To The Next Digital Level
Whether you realise it or not, the above SEO strategies are already at play with your website. They can either be helping your rankings – or working against your rankings. Investing in SEO is a conscious decision to improve your search engines rankings which will result in more traffic to your site.
It’s important to note that attracting all the traffic in the world to your site won’t matter if it isn’t set up to convert visitors into prospects. The process of improving your site for conversions is referred to as conversion rate optimisation (or CRO for short). Whilst they are definitely linked, SEO and CRO are different processes. If you have invested in SEO and seen an increase in traffic but not an increase in leads or clients, then it may be an idea to also invest in CRO.
Either way, the first step to identifying how your site is performing in SEO is to conduct an audit. Fill in the form below for a complimentary SEO audit of your website.