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This series of articles shares a methodical step-by-step process for using Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – to improve your return on investment for your sparkly new accounting, investment, or CPA website.

Effective SEO for accountants enables you to increase the number of high-quality visits to your firm’s website, allowing you to generate inbound leads.

As a bonus, I will also show you how best to avoid being caught out by low-quality, un-strategic SEO providers.

In Part 1 of this series, SEO FOR ACCOUNTANTS: HOW TO GET IT RIGHTI explained that, despite the euphoria of getting a new website live, it is just the start point, the beginning of the race. To be successful, you need to invest time and effort in getting website visitors – traffic – to your shiny new website.

SEO is central to achieving this. Any business, including accountancy firms, that:

  1. Has a website, and
  2. Expects that website to generate leads

…must invest in ongoing SEO. It really is that simple. Failing to invest in SEO is like not keeping up with repairs and decorating after spending money having your house renovated.

But Buyer Beware!

Finding the right SEO provider from the multitude that are available, without the right support, is like piloting through a hail storm blindfolded. Many businesses receive unsolicited emails like this on virtually a daily basis:

Dear Sir/Madam,
We have explored your website and can clearly see that it is currently ranking poorly in Google.
We are specialists in offering affordable online traffic solutions to businesses who need an immediate boost in website visitor numbers.

Our affordable, high-quality SEO service guarantees results that will see your website on the 1st page of Google.

And so on, and so on…………

Such emails should ring alarm bells and have you heading in the other direction for two key reasons:

  1. The sender has no way of knowing how well your website is ranking in Google. Rankings are determined by numerous elements including specific key phrases and unless they are mind readers, they have no way of knowing what your target keywords are;
  2. Spam is the last defence of the poor operator. If the sender was any good at SEO, they would have plentiful inbound leads of their own and wouldn’t have to resort to such low and desperate tactics.

 

Tip: Filter out these emails for good by adjusting your email settings. Set up Rule (Outlook) or a Filter (Gmail) so that any email that starts with Dear ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ is automatically sent to your Junk/Spam folder.

Part 1 of this series covered the first step – Keyword Strategy and Research – deciding on the phrases that you want your website to rank well for. Once you have done this you are ready for step 2.

Step 2, is ensuring that you understand three key things about SEO for accountants:

  1. On-Page SEO for Accountants = Things done on your website

There are two broad categories of SEO activities:

  • On-Page and
  • Off-Page

While it may sound a little technical to start with, this SEO terminology is really quite straightforward. If you choose to delegate the work to an SEO provider, it is important that you understand the basics. This way you ensure that you are getting value for money and a provider that knows what they are doing.

On-Page SEO relates to actions that are undertaken directly on your website.

Off-Page SEO relates to actions that undertakenon other websites to create links to and improve the credibility of your website.

SEO: Think beyond your home page

Your website is bigger than just your home page. One of the major mistakes that businesses make is to focus solely on getting their home page to rank well in search engines.

For the best results, you need to consider SEO across your whole website on a page-by-page basis. Your website can have a range of different pages that are optimised for different phrases that are specific to that page and its contents.

For example, if you have numerous different divisions or offer a range of services, you need to create specific pages and use SEO key phrases that meet the needs of those pages. You cannot expect your home page to range well for all the SEO keywords or phrases that are needed across the entire website.

The many windows into your website

Think of your business website as a building with many windows allowing visitors to see into the delights that are held within. Each page of your website is a different window. Your home page is just one of those windows, neglecting the other pages is like drawing the curtains on the other windows and cutting off the view. If you focus solely on the SEO of your home page, you risk neglecting the many other pages that could be working hard for you and ranking well in Google.

SEO for accountants — Ranking factors

Search engines, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing, use a range of SEO ranking factors including:

  1. The security and ease of access to your website.
  2. Load speeds – particularly on mobile devices.
  3. Navigation and ease of viewing on mobile devices.
  4. Domain age, URL wording, and authority.
  5. Whether your content is optimised for search engines.
  6. Whether the structure of your website and platform is optimised for search engines.
  7. User experience.
  8. Links to the page from credible directories and websites.
  9. Frequency with which the page is shared on social platforms.
  • Discernibility of verified information relating to the business’ identity, contact details, and location.

The first 7 items relate to On-Page SEO as each one involves actions that are taken directly on your website.

On-Page SEO for accountants — examples

A shrewd SEO provider will leave no avenue unexplored as they make improvements to your website each month to improve its rankings. Common specific On-Page examples include:

  • Improving page load times by optimising images to reduce file size without reducing their visual size or quality.
  • Specifically tailoring the title of each page; ensuring that it includes the target SEO phrase of the page, that it is well-worded, and reducing the length so that it does not get cut short when displayed in Google’s results pages. Titles encompass the text that is displayed as the main clickable blue heading in the search engine results. Pages that lack useful titles are commonplace – for example, ‘XYZ Accountants – Home’ rather than the more specific and helpful ‘XYZ Accountants | Accountants for Service and Trade Businesses.
  • Optimising poorly worded or missing Descriptions to include the target SEO phrase and related words or phrases. Writing them in a manner that is enticing and encourages visitors to click through to the website from the results page. The description is the paragraph of grey text beneath the Title in the search engine results.
  • The words contained in the URL (the words in the web link) also essential. When you first publish your webpage or blog post Google and your prospective visitors look for relevant words in the URL.
  • Your page’s headline – Heading 1 or H1 is also important. Your Title and H1 heading do not need to have the same wording as they have different purposes. The Title needs to get the visitor’s attention and to rank well in the search engine results pages. This encourages them to click through to the website. The H1 heading is the headline at the top of the web page. This is being read by someone who is already on the page. While Titles should generally be matter-of-fact and descriptive, H1 headings can be longer and more creative.
  • Subheading H2, H3, etc should also contain words that provide the search engine with cues to the focus and topic of the page.
  • SEO is also affected by paragraph text formatting. Google notes aspects such as words that have been given strong emphasis by being place in Bold format.
  • A word of caution: Keyword density—how often a word or phrase appears on a web page—is also taken into account. Keyword stuffing – where a word or phrase is used too frequently and without purpose – will hurt a page’s Google rankings. This is a particularly ‘black hat’ technique used by less discerning SEO operatives and SEO amateurs. Google’s algorithm is wise to this practice and will demote your web page in its rankings if keyword stuffing is detected. Using the target keyword phrase naturally throughout an article or page ensures that the keyword density is ‘just right’ and not ‘over-optimised’ or stuffed.

There are various types of On-Page SEO activities that can be achieved across the many pages of your website. There is no shortage of small changes and tweaks that can be done; each tweak makes a difference, and they all add up.

An experienced SEO team, however, will not just focus on your On-Site SEO each month….

  1. Off-Page SEO for Accountants = Things done on other websites

The final three points in our earlier 10-point list of types of SEO ranking factors relate to Off-Page SEO. These are activities undertaken on other websites, rather than on your website. These three factors were:

  1. Links to the page from credible directories and websites.
  2. Frequency with which the page is shared on social platforms.
  3. Discernibility of verified information relating to the business’ identity, contact details, and location.

Link building

Link building is an important aspect of SEO. It relates to your SEO team getting another website to link to specific pages on your website. These third-party sites can include:

  • Other business’ websites
  • Business blogs
  • Business directories
  • Forums
  • Social media profiles
  • Bookmark sites
  • And many others

Link-building may be labour-intensive work but it is an extremely valuable process.

Social shares

The quantity of social shares your webpage obtains is influenced by:

  • How ‘shareworthy’ the content is, and
  • The ease with which readers can share the content, through social share widgets on the page.

Verified business information

The importance of your business listings and reviews on Google My Business and Facebook cannot be underestimated. Accounting firms often do not pay enough attention to completing their Google My Business account information. This is a common mistake and one that signals a wasted opportunity, especially given that these listings are free.

Your online visibility and Google rankings are helped enormously by positive reviews. Ask happy clients to provide reviews and provide them with simple instructions and the link they need to do so, and you will reap the rewards.

  1. Importance of an experienced SEO provider

A poor choice in SEO provider risks ruining your website. While Google rankings are important, there is little point in ranking well in Google if people are turned off by what they see when they click through to your website.

Your accounting firm’s website is most likely to be wrecked by SEO providers who:

  • Are not specialists in SEO for your industry or profession. They may approach your website and make changes that are appropriate for hospitality or retail business, but that are not suitable for a professional services business such as a Business Advisory firm or an Accountancy business.
  • Use old-school ‘Black Hat’ techniques such as keyword stuffing and other techniques. Tricking Google may work for a little while—when they are first used—but your website will be banished and buried deep in the darkest places of the search results once Google counteracts these tactics with updates in their ranking algorithm.

Why industry experience matters

The easiest way to understand why experience matters is through an example. There’s a London-based Accounting firm that hired a cheap SEO provider—one of the Dear Sir/Madam spammers—that was:

  • not a specialist in SEO for accountants,
  • not from within the country or culture and
  • who used Black Hat SEO tactics.

The home page of the company’s website went from having a good home page headline and core message—one that would have impressed a website visitor—to reading as if it had been written by a virtual assistant with a poor grasp of English. The accountancy business instructed the SEO provider to support their search engine ranking for the key phrase ‘business accountant London’. The sloppy SEO provider proceeded to ‘keyword stuff’ that phrase into the home page like this:

Welcome to Business Accountants London (which is not their business name)
We are business accountants in London. We love helping businesses in London because as accountants in London we have helped many London businesses.

And the keyword-stuffed verbal diarrhoea went on, and on, and on.

Unsurprisingly, the effectiveness of the website dropped like a stone. It got more traffic from ranking well, but effective digital marketing is about traffic and conversion: Your website visitors must like what they see, read it, scroll through it, click on things, and engage with your site.

SEO providers who focus specifically on delivering SEO for accountants and advisors will not make these types of mistakes.

What you have learned so far in this SEO for Accountants series

You’re becoming savvy to SEO and learning how to avoid inferior SEO operators. You are also increasing your awareness of how to effectively harness the power of SEO for your Accounting firm’s website and how to intelligently select, delegate to, and effectively manage an SEO provider. This means that you will be able to ask them the key questions:

  • Which SEO phrases are you targeting?
  • What have you based that selection of phrases on?
  • Is your SEO approach mainly On-Page, Off-Page or a blend?
  • Which On-Page SEO activities will you focus on?
  • Which Off-Page SEO activities will you focus on?

More importantly, you will understand and be able to evaluate the effectiveness of their answers.

Need some advice on your SEO performance? Creative Harmony is an established London based digital marketing agency with expertise in helping businesses to grow their online presence, providing a range of online marketing services from SEOPPC to Website Development, Social Media Management and Content Marketing. Give our friendly team a call on 0203 773 9137.

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