By OLIVER ANDREWS
How to do SEO for accountants and bookkeepers - The ultimate guide
How can SEO benefit accountants and bookkeepers?
SEO for accountants probably isn’t a topic you covered during your accountancy training, especially if you completed your qualifications several years ago. Nonetheless, its importance is greater than ever, not least in the post-coronavirus era, and it cannot be overlooked by small, medium, or large scale bookkeeping firms. It is no exaggeration to state that YOU NEED SEO to succeed in the modern landscape.
The right SEO strategy can become the best weapon in an accountant or bookkeeper’s arsenal. Here are just some of the key stats that should encourage you to make it a priority for your future marketing endeavours:
- Over 92% of all online traffic comes from Google.
- Google processes over 5.5 billion searches every single day.
- Six in 10 marketers identify inbound SEO as their best lead generation tool.
- Only 1 in 4 users bother to click beyond the first page of Google.
- Organic SEO drives 10x more traffic than social media.
In short: SEO can help accountants gain more leads and, crucially, conversions every single month.
Whether searching for a local service or an online bookkeeper, most prospective clients (businesses and individuals) will head straight to Google. If your business is shown first, customers will head to your website because it is convenient while additionally making your firm seem more trustworthy and professional. Implementing the right SEO plan is the best way to make it happen.
And, unlike many marketing tools like PPC, organic SEO strategies bring lasting results.
What we will cover in this article
What exactly is SEO?
By now, you can already see that SEO for accountants is an essential feature of modern marketing for both local and nationwide leads. But what exactly is it?
The acronym stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which quite literally means that the website will be optimised for search engines (clever, eh?) meaning you will appear in a more prominent position. As the stats in the above section show, this means more traffic and sales for your business.
To understand SEO, you must first gain a little insight into search engines themselves. Google and similar sites essentially work on the premise that a user searches for content, and the algorithm subsequently presents the most relevant information by ranking all indexed websites on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for the user. In your situation, you want the firm’s website to feature prominently whenever somebody wants to find an accountant or bookkeeper.
Incredibly, over 90% of all webpages receive no traffic from search engines. A successful strategy should cover two distinct features: on-site SEO and off-site SEO.
On-site SEO should cover the following elements; site speed, meta, structure, content, keywords, internal linking, and outbound linking. Essentially, then, these are the attributes that are found on your website and tell Google that your webpages are relevant to accountancy and bookkeeping.
Off-site SEO should cover; backlinks, social media, directories, and citations. These elements are gained through steps that are completed on other platforms away from your website. They are largely seen as verification of your company’s work while they also attract clients in new spaces.
Only a comprehensive strategy that combines the two parts of SEO will deliver the first-page results you crave.
How to rank your accounting firm on top in local searches?
Most clients, whether businesses or individuals, prefer to work with local companies. Meanwhile, up to 46% of all searches are local searches. Frankly, it doesn’t take an accountant to add those elements together and realise that your website should focus on hitting the local audience.
Aside from the fact that a significant percentage of your conversions are likely to come from a local audience, it’s worth noting that it’s easier to rank highly on localised search terms. So, how can you rank your accounting or bookkeeping firm on top of the local SERPs? That’s easy: outperform your competition.
You can conduct the bulk of your market research simply by running a local search like “accountant in London” or “bookkeeper in Kent”. Alternatively, you may wish to go a little more in-depth with terms like “certified business accountants South London”. Once you have determined which firms rank highest, you can start to find the answers to key questions, such as;
- How can you create better content?
- How can you provide a better experience than them?
- How can you add even more value than they do?
- How can you have a greater level of relevance?
- How can you make a bigger first impression?
Several on-page SEO steps will be required to secure the top spots; you can make a significant impact by showing an appreciation of the features that Google loves when ranking local pages.
Google My Business should be at the top of the agenda. It is almost like another social media page, except it’s solely for Google. It will tell Google what your business does and where it is located. This subsequently ensures that it shows on Google Maps and other aspects of local searches.
In addition to GMB listings, you should consider the Google Reviews page. Google wants to provide users with the best experience, and there’s no greater testimony to your professional accountancy than verified testimonials from past clients. All five-star reviews are great, but companies with at least 40 tend to perform better, which is why you should aim for as many as possible.
Meanwhile, high-quality and relevant citations that promote your accountancy website can have a telling influence too.
Choosing the right keywords for accounting
When trying to master Google and other search engines, you must remember that they are merely a tool that are designed to provide users with the most relevant info in relation to their searches. Therefore, your accountancy firm will only be presented to potential leads if it ranks highly for the search terms that they run.
Keywords are the essential ingredient in the recipe for success.
Choosing the right keywords ultimately means predicting what prospective leads are most likely to type into Google. It is the one feature that could potentially make or break the entire accountancy SEO strategy. Before getting started, you should also recognise that voice searches are rapidly growing, which is why you must think about the way people speak to their devices as well as the terms they may type.
When considering keywords and phrases, you should first know that long-tail keyword consisting of four words or more account for almost 70% of all searches. Therefore, terms like “cheap accountants in London” may produce better results.
To achieve any level of success on search engines, you need to think about the end-user as much as the Google algorithm itself. One of the critical factors to consider is their intent. There are four;
- Informational intent, which is when the user wants to gain insight into a particular subject. As a bookkeeper, your users may be researching UK laws and their tax obligations.
- Navigational intent, which is when the user plans to visit a specific website but decides to use Google rather than typing the web address. They may, therefore, type your brand name,
- Transactional intent, which is when a prospective lead is actively in the position to complete a purchase or arrange a consultation. This could mean arranging to use one of your accountancy services.
- Commercial intent, which is when the prospective lead is analysing their options for research purposes with the intent to convert at a later date. So, they may be checking out your available services.
Depending on which state of mind a person is in, it will influence the keywords you want to target. When looking to complete more sales, transactional and commercial intent are the most important. However, the other two features are still important, not least because informational intent can lead to brand awareness.
The formula for success is to discover keywords that are popular among consumers looking for accountants but do not face intense competition. Find the right terms, and you’ll rank better and faster.
Why is content king?
Even if you’re new to digital marketing for accountants, you’ve probably encountered the phrase that content is king. It is vital for two chief reasons;
- If the content sucks, your traffic will simply lead to high bounce rates (people who leave as soon as they’ve entered your site) and low conversions.
- When Google realises that your accountancy website doesn’t provide a better user experience (UX) than your competitors, your presence on the SERPs will suffer.
Once again, it’s imperative that you learn to put yourself in the user’s shoes. When building your content, you need to think about whether it’s the type of webpage that would lead you to a transaction, encourage you to bookmark it or make you remember the brand. If you can honestly answer those questions with a ‘yes’, you’re probably on the right track.
Content can take the form of landing pages, web pages that describe a service, or a blog that explains important details about your brand and bookkeeping in general. The right content should;
- Be relevant to your accounting services and the search terms that generate the traffic,
- Answer all possible questions clearly and concisely,
- Engage the reader so that they follow the content to the very end.
- Encourage the user to follow an actionable Call-to-Action, which could mean a sign-up or calling.
Stats show that the average top ranking page has 1,447 words. However, text alone isn’t the only key feature. Websites thrive under visual media because it removes language barriers, enables you to show your brand personality to establish a sense of trust, and is deemed a more convenient way to consume media.
Crucially, visual media is often more memorable. Viewers retain 95% of the message expressed in videos, which is far greater than the rate of content they read. You must, therefore, try to implement video, audio, infographics, and images where possible. Google loves them, and users will too.
What are backlinks and how can you acquire the right ones?
Google needs to know that your business can be trusted. So, how do you prove that your local bookkeeping company is more trustworthy than its competition? Aside from reviews and testimonials, backlinks are the answer.
In fact, backlinks are one of the most significant metrics in the Google algorithm. Backlinks are essentially links from other websites to your webpages. You can get the process started by linking to your site from social media, but the process cannot end there. After all, most of your direct competitors are doing this.
Backlinks can be achieved in several ways. The most popular include;
- Adding your business and website details to relevant directories,
- Building mutual links with other companies,
- Producing guest content for publishers that link back to your site,
- Using the skyscraper technique.
One of the most important factors here is to focus on quality rather than quantity. One link from a high-performing website in the field of business or accountancy will be more valuable than 10 links from small, irrelevant blogs. You can use alexa.com to find a list of the most authoritative sites on the internet before reaching out to them.
The skyscraper technique is one that once again focuses on the idea that content is king once. Essentially, you will create a guide or webpage that provides a better perspective or more relevant details than the information currently available online. Following this, you will reach out to the websites currently linking to the existing guides on the subject to ask whether they’d prefer to link themselves to yours. Most companies want to be associated with the best content and will see this as a mutually beneficial solution.
However, you gain your links, each one is deemed a thumbs up that verifies your quality and professionalism. Ensure that the backlinks come from relevant sources (linked to your niche of accounting and bookkeeping), and you will see the website fly up the rankings for accountancy related search terms.
Creating a good User experience
Google continues to focus on giving its users the best UX. Guess what? Your accountancy website and SEO for bookkeeping strategies must be tailored accordingly. For starters, it can have a telling influence on your site’s ranking. Moreover, a better experience on your website could be the key factor that turns a visitor into a client.
This is because the UX is often the deciding factor as to whether a visitor stays on-site or leaves (adding to the bounce rate statistic), probably never to return. The harsh reality is that if the user gains the wrong first impression of the company, it will take a lot of hard work to win them back over. By that time, they’ll have already found another bookkeeper.
Some key factors to consider are;
- It takes just 0.05 seconds for people to form judgements on a website,
- A one-second delay can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions,
- Over 88% of users will avoid a website if they have just one bad experience.
Site speed is naturally a major priority for the sake of the customer as well as the SEO rankings, especially as each conversion can be worth a lot of money to bookkeepers and accountants. There are several ways to achieve this, such as using image compressing, but choosing a suitable web host is easily the most significant feature of all.
Given that mobile browsing is now more popular than desktop browsing, it’s vital that your site is optimised for mobile screens. The web design features are integral for this, but the SEO strategies for mobile need careful consideration too.
As already mentioned, testimonials go a long way to building trust, and it’s a concept that will significantly enhance the UX. It feeds into the bigger idea of using social proof to build credibility. Essentially, when people refer to friends and social media followers to your accountancy firm, they will instantly view it in a positive light.
Affiliate schemes, social influencers, and on-site reviews are all great additions. Embrace them all to create the best UX possible.
Strategies for successful On-site Business Blogging
An on-site blog is easily one of the best assets at your disposal when building a local SEO plan. Blogging allows you to achieve many things that standard webpages will not, including but not limited to;
- Promote brand awareness without directly showcasing your bookkeeping services.
- Create a FREE stream of content for users,
- Establish yourself as a trustworthy and authoritative voice through industry insights like Payroll,
- Diversify your brand and show the people behind it,
- Target accounting SEO keywords that aren’t natural on webpages, such as search terms.
Blog content can cover many forms. Interviews, help guides, industry news, features on new recruitments, case studies, and other pieces of interest can all add value. When you are struggling for content inspiration, Reddit and Quora are great solutions. Other blogs from non-competing industries are also ideal while you can also use your blogs to target low competition and long-tail keywords.
The blogging industry has grown 12% since 2015, showing that it remains a major part of the local SEO checklist. Any SEO agency for accountants will confirm that ignoring it is simply not an option.
Writing a blog article is the same process as targeting any other keyword. You should use the main keyword several times throughout the post (in a natural manner) to ensure that you rank for it while additionally using a range of related key phrases to get the full benefit.
Once again, you need to focus on the readers rather than Google alone. Traffic is futile without the intended next steps.
What to avoid in SEO
When looking to fire your bookkeeping firm up the rankings, you will naturally focus on finding the right accounting search engine terms. In turn, you may be tricked into using all SEO tools that could have a positive impact. However, it’s important that you follow the right strategies and the right strategies only. This means focusing on white hat SEO while avoiding black hat SEO at all times.
As per WordStream, black hat SEO is defined as “refers to a set of practices that are used to increase a site or page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service”. Essentially, they are SEO tools and methods that can fire you up the rankings in a quick fashion but will lead to penalties. In turn, this will mean that your website is no longer indexed and will not appear on the SERPs.
The list of black hat SEO techniques will include illegal practices like adding phishing or malware, but will also include aspects that give you an unfair advantage. Examples are;
- Duplicate content
- Buying links or using PBNs
- Spam content on other sites
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text and cloaking
- Content automation
- Doorway pages
- Keyword stuffing
The harsh reality is that a lot of companies, including accountancy firms, fall victim to these issues without realising it simply by teaming up with the wrong agency. When searching for an SEO company for accountants, it’s vital to check their credentials and confirm that they will handle all issues in an appropriate manner. Otherwise, it’ll end in disaster.
General SEO tips
By now, you should have a good idea of what to do and, perhaps more importantly, what not to do in regards to local SEO strategy building. In turn, your accountancy or bookkeeping business should be set for far better results.
However, it’s important to remember that this is an ongoing commitment. After all, it takes six months for results to show and even longer to reach the top page of the SERPs. Consistency is king, especially when looking at blogging and content creation.
Further tips for successful accountancy SEO include;
- Always track results
- Track keywords
- Track backlinks you get
- Track traffic numbers
- Track conversion rates
There are plenty of tools including Google Analytics and the Search Console that will allow you to make data-driven decisions or use ideas like A/B testing. Meanwhile, any professional and dedicated SEO expert for accountants will incorporate elements of tutoring so that you can maintain the results for many years to come.
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